Connie Chung

Constance Yu-Hwa Chung is an American journalist.

One of several daughters of a high ranking Kuomintang diplomat from Taiwan, she was born and raised in Washington, D.C. She graduated from Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland and went on to get a degree in journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park in 1969. She has been married to talk show host Maury Povich since 1984.

Chung’s network television career has spanned NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, and MSNBC. Chung was a Washington, D.C.-based correspondent for the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite in the early 1970s, during the Watergate political scandal. Later, Chung left for the Los Angeles-owned and operated station of CBS, KNXT (now KCBS). She then moved to the nation’s second largest (and highest paying) local news market, southern California, home to established local news anchors like KABC’s Jerry Dunphy, Christine Lund, and KNBC’s Paul Moyer, Kelly Lange and Tritia Toyota. Chung also anchored the CBS Newsbriefs for the west coast stations from the KNXT studios at Columbia Square during her tenure there.

She returned with great fanfare to network news as NBC created a new early program, NBC News at Sunrise, which was scheduled right before the popular Today program. Later, NBC created American Almanac, which she co-hosted with Roger Mudd, after Mudd left the NBC Nightly News, where he co-anchored for two years with Tom Brokaw.

Chung left NBC for CBS where she hosted Saturday Night with Connie Chung, and on June 1, 1993, she became the second woman (after Barbara Walters) to co-anchor a major network’s national news broadcast (with CBS). While hosting the CBS Evening News, Chung also hosted a side project on CBS, Eye to Eye with Connie Chung. After her unsuccessful co-anchoring stint with Dan Rather ended in 1995, Chung jumped to ABC News where she co-hosted 20/20 and began independent interviews, a field which would soon become her trademark.

Chung's interviews were largely gentle, but often they were punctuated by a rapid-fire barrage of sharp questions. Despite this, her interviews were still widely recognized as being decidedly softer than those of other interviewers, such as Barbara Walters or Mike Wallace. Consequently, her interviews were often used as a public relations move by those looking to overcome scandal or controversy. Some of her more famous interview subjects include Claus von Bülow and U.S. Representative Gary Condit.

She faced controversy when, in an interview with Kathleen Gingrich, mother of Republican politician Newt Gingrich, on Eye to Eye, Ms. Gingrich said she couldn’t say what her son thought about First Lady Hillary Clinton on the air. Chung asked Ms. Gingrich to “just whisper it to me, just between you and me,” and Ms. Gingrich replied that her son thought of Clinton as a “bitch.” Many people interpreted Chung’s suggestion that Ms. Gingrich whisper this statement as a promise the statement would be off the record. When the statement aired, viewers felt Chung had compromised her journalistic integrity. (It has been suggested that CBS, by this time looking to drop Chung from her contract with them, made no defense of the incident.)

A few months later, in the wake of the April 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, Chung asked a Oklahoma City Fire Department spokesman, “Can the Oklahoma City Fire Department handle this?” Many viewers, particularly those in Oklahoma City, felt the question was insensitive to the situation. Thousands of viewers in Oklahoma and elsewhere called, and wrote letters of protest over the tone of the questions. Co-anchor Dan Rather also was irate that Chung was sent from New York to the assignment while he was already in nearby Texas. Consequently, after Rather's complaints and public outcries, Chung was offered a demotion to weekend anchor or morning anchor but was laid off as co-anchor of the CBS Evening News.

After making the jump to ABC News as a co-host of 20/20, she had a high profile interview with Gary Condit, on his relationship with murdered Washington, D.C., intern Chandra Levy.

She was a popular guest host of the morning program, Good Morning America. After short-lived host Lisa McRee left the program, Chung declined to take over on a permanent basis, saying she did not want to broadcast 10 hours a week in early morning hours.

Chung briefly hosted her own show on CNN entitled Connie Chung Tonight, where she was paid $2 million per year. Though her arrival at CNN was heavily hyped by the network, her show was panned by critics. CNN changed her show from live to tape-delay to make it flow better. Although it did moderately well in the ratings,(a 500,000 increase in viewers) her show was suspended once the 2003 Iraq War began. During the war, she was reduced to reading hourly headlines. Once CNN resumed regular programming, Chung requested that CNN resume broadcasting her show as soon as possible. The network responded by cancelling it, even though her contract had not yet expired. In an interview, CNN founder Ted Turner called the show “just awful.”

In January 2006, Chung and Maury Povich (her husband since 1984), began hosting a show titled Weekends with Maury and Connie on MSNBC. It was Chung’s first appearance as a television host since 2003. The show was cancelled and aired its final episode on June 17, 2006. On this episode, Chung, dressed in a white evening gown and writhing atop a black piano, sang a parody to the tune of “Thanks for the Memories.” Video clips of the bizarre, off-key farewell performance circulated on internet video sites like YouTube, ironically viewed by more people than viewed Weekends with Maury and Connie during its run. Connie herself commented, “All I want to be sure of is that viewers understood it was a giant self-parody. If anyone took it seriously, they really need to get a life.”

On the June 27, 2006 episode of The Tonight Show, Chung was interviewed by Jay Leno regarding her Thanks for the Memories parody. During the interview, Chung poked fun at her show’s low ratings, referring to the musical number as a “private joke for our two viewers.”

* Even when not in the public eye, Chung has been lampooned regularly on the FOX television series MADtv by Korean-American comedian Bobby Lee in drag. (Years before this, Chung was parodied on the program In Living Color by another Korean-American cast member of the show, Steve Park)
* In an episode of the animated television series Family Guy, Tricia Takanawa, the female Asian reporter apparently meant as a reference to the ubiquitousness of female, Asian-American news correspondents in local news, interviews the show’s main character, a dunce named Peter Griffin, who obliviously addresses her as “Connie.”
* Worked alongside sportscasters Brent Musburger and Roy Firestone, and Steve Edwards (talk show host) when she did local news in Los Angeles.
* On the January 29, 1977, episode of Saturday Night Live, Jane Curtin, as the show’s Weekend Update anchor, as a joke, lamented she was not as popular as her predecessor, Chevy Chase. At one point, she rips open her jacket and blouse, exposing her brassiere, and shouts “Match these, Connie Chung!”
* In the American-dubbed version of the Hong Kong action flick High Risk, a female reporter played by Chingmy Yau kicks a villain in the groin and says, “Eat your heart out, Connie Chung!”
* In the sitcom Full House, Stephanie Tanner (played by Jodie Sweetin) in an episode said when she ran away she would change her name to Connie Chung. She was also mentioned in another episode about career day, where she was slated to appear, but couldn't, so Danny and Becky took her place.
* In the Deep Space Homer episode of the Simpsons, NASA executives are shocked to learn that their recent space launch has received worse ratings than “A Connie Chung Christmas.”
* She appeared as a guest on The View in 2005.
* On a March 20, 2006, Chung was interviewed on The Colbert Report by Stephen Colbert.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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