Who Is Connie Chung?
American journalist and news anchor Connie Chung became the first woman to co-anchor CBS Evening News, as well as the first Asian and the second woman to anchor one of America's major network newscasts. The Emmy and Peabody award winner has worked at CBS, ABC, NBC and CNN. Chung is married to talk show host Maury Povich.
Chung was born on August 20, 1946, and raised in Washington, D.C., as one of five surviving daughters of a Chinese diplomat. Chung received her journalism degree from the University of Maryland in 1969, and immediately launched her journalism career at Washington's WTTG-TV, ultimately working her way up to reporter. Two years later, she was hired by CBS News to work as a Washington-based correspondent. There, Chung scored her first big interview: an exclusive sit-down with President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal.
From 1976 to 1983, Chung worked and lived in Los Angeles as the lead news anchor for local CBS affiliate KCBS. It was in L.A. that Chung began a relationship with Maury Povich, a talk show host and old friend from their days as co-workers at WTTG. After seven years of dating, the pair married in 1984. "One day in the autumn of 1984 she called me up and said we could get married now," Povich recalled. "When asked how come, she answered calmly, 'Because I found a dress.'" It would be 18 months before the newlyweds' careers allowed them to live together in the same city. They settled in New York in 1986.
'Face to Face With Connie Chung'
In 1983, Chung moved to NBC. By the time her contract came up for renewal in 1989, she had become one of the most popular journalists in television news. After a fierce bidding war, Chung signed a three-year deal with CBS. She launched a program called Face to Face With Connie Chung, which mixed hard news with celebrity-friendly feature interviews. The program was popular with viewers, but many media critics questioned whether Chung was focusing on entertainment over information. The New York Times, for example, asked: "The question remains, is this program news? And, if so, what sort of news?"
Just months after starting, Chung quit the program, issuing a statement that she was leaving her grueling work schedule to focus on having a baby. "Time is running out for me when it comes to childbearing," said Chung, then 44. Her efforts to conceive a child proved unsuccessful. Povich and Chung would adopt a son, Matthew, in June 1995.
In June 1993, CBS announced to much fanfare that Chung was to become co-anchor of the nightly news broadcast, alongside longtime lead Dan Rather. Chung was only the second woman ever (after Barbara Walters) to hold one of the main network anchor chairs. At the same time, she launched a newsmagazine called Eye to Eye with Connie Chung. Like the short-lived Face to Face with Connie Chung before it, the program mixed coverage of serious news like the Israeli/Palestinian peace accords with soft, pop-culture stories.
Chung landed in hot water in 1995 after she prompted Kathleen Gingrich, the 68-year-old mother of then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, to admit that her son had called U.S. first lady Hillary Clinton "a bitch." The elder Gingrich made the comment after Chung said, "Why don't you just whisper it to me, just between you and me?" Though Chung said it was clear she was being playful, many viewers felt she had entrapped Gingrich.
Concerns over her interviewing style, and Rather's reported resentment at having to share the anchor role, doomed the Chung-Rather on-air partnership. In May 1995, CBS informed Chung that it was removing her from the co-anchor chair, offering the lower position of weekend and substitute anchor. Chung declined, requesting instead to be let out of her contract.
Chung attempted unsuccessfully to launch her own news program alongside Povich before moving to ABC News in December 1997, where she anchored the Friday night newsmagazine 20/20. At 20/20, she scored the first interview with Congressman Gary Condit after the 2001 disappearance of intern Chandra Levy.
In 2002, she moved to CNN to anchor a new show competing with Fox News Channel pundit Bill O'Reilly. The program struggled—CNN founder Ted Turner called it "just awful"—and CNN abruptly dropped her in March 2003. A "very shocked and extremely disappointed" Chung stepped away from television for some time, staying at home to raise her son.
In 2006, she returned to TV with her husband on a Saturday morning show called Weekends With Maury & Connie. The show was quietly canceled after six lackluster months, but it was hard to miss the viral video clip of Chung wearing a slinky white dress and warbling a parody song with lyrics like, "Thanks for the memories/ We came to do a show/ For very little dough/ By little I mean/ I could make more working on skid row." Chung later clarified that the whole thing was a joke mocking the show's cancellation. "All I want to be sure of is that viewers understood it was a giant self-parody," Chung said. "If anyone took it seriously, they really need to get a life."
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