The long, lonely, unlovely scramble to making it to the top in TV news.
As she did in her fluid multitiered biography Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon—and the Journey of Generation (2008), Vanity Fair contributor Weller takes apart feminist icons of her generation—those who came of age in the 1960s and ’70s—to see how they work and how they made it to prime time. Here, concentrating on the three women of corporate TV news who are still at their peaks—Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric and Christiane Amanpour (the author ignores Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill)—Weller finds in their examples bracing tales of tenacity against a bastion of sexism during a time when established newscasters like Harry Reasoner believed women simply did not belong on the air. The passage of Title IX in June 1972 compelled the networks to hire a certain percentage of women or face discrimination lawsuits, and hence Leslie Stahl and Connie Chung got their starts, paving the way for others. At NBC’s Today Show, Couric would benefit from the battle-scarred promotions of predecessors Barbara Walters and Jane Pauley. Sawyer, curiously, languished for four years after Watergate aiding the disgraced President Richard Nixon in writing his autobiography; thus, the brainy, “mysterious,” hardworking reporter had to overcome a stigma when she first came aboard CBS News in 1978. Amanpour, born in London to an Iranian family, became a tireless, well-respected crusading international correspondent for CNN; she was especially instrumental in bringing the Bosnian catastrophe to American attention. Amanpour also had to overcome bias toward women in the field, as well as with regard to her English accent. Weller is most admiring of Amanpour’s gutsiness, rather hardest on “America’s sweetheart” Couric, and clearly smitten with Sawyer.
Inspiring bios of today’s professional heroines.