Connie Chung

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Connie Chung
ConnieChungByPhilKonstantin.jpg
Chung in San Diego in 2008
Born Constance Yu-Hwa Chung
(1946-08-20) August 20, 1946 (age 67)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Nationality American
Ethnicity Chinese
Occupation News presenter, reporter
Years active 1972–present
Spouse(s) Maury Povich (1984–present)
Connie Chung
Alternative Chinese name
Chinese 宗毓華

Constance Yu-Hwa Chung Povich (Chinese: 宗毓華; pinyin: Zōng Yùhuá; Cantonese Yale: Jung Yukwa; born August 20, 1946) better known as Connie Chung, is an American journalist. She has been an anchor and reporter for the U.S. television news networks NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, and MSNBC. Some of her more famous interview subjects include Claus von Bülow and U.S. Representative Gary Condit, whom Chung interviewed first after the Chandra Levy disappearance,[1] and basketball legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson after he went public about being HIV-positive. In 1995 she was removed as CBS Evening News co-anchor after a controversial interview with a fireman which seemed inappropriately combative, during rescue efforts at the Oklahoma City bombing and her interview tactics to get Newt Gingrich's mother to admit her unguarded thoughts about Hillary Clinton.

She is married to talk show host Maury Povich and they have one adopted son, Matthew Jay Povich.[2]

Background[edit]

The youngest of ten children (of whom she and four other girls of Chinese immigrant parents.) Her four older sisters were all born in China. Chung was born and raised in Washington, D.C., less than a year after her family immigrated.[3] She graduated from Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland, and went on to receive 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 converted to Judaism upon her marriage to Povich.[4] Chung announced that she was reducing her workload in 1991 in the hopes of getting pregnant. Together, they have one son whom they adopted on June 20, 1995, Matthew Jay Povich. He attended the Allen-Stevenson School and now attends the Riverdale Country School.

Career[edit]

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) which was in the nation's second largest (and highest paying) local market, southern California. 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 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 with ABC in 1976) to co-anchor a major network's national news broadcast (the solo national news anchor title in the United States goes to Katie Couric at 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 the Monday edition of 20/20 with Charles Gibson 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, whom Chung interviewed first after the Chandra Levy disappearance.[1] Chung was the first journalist to interview basketball legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson after he went public about being HIV-positive.

Chung was a judge for the Miss Universe 2011 contest.

Kathleen Gingrich interview controversy[edit]

In a January 5, 1995 interview with Kathleen Gingrich, mother of Republican politician Newt Gingrich, on Eye to Eye, Mrs. Gingrich said she could not say what her son thought about First Lady Hillary Clinton on the air. Chung asked Mrs. Gingrich to "just whisper it to me, just between you and me," and Mrs. Gingrich replied that her son thought of Clinton as a "bitch".[5] Many people interpreted Chung's suggestion that if Mrs. Gingrich would whisper this statement it would be promised that the statement would be off the record. Bill Carter for the New York Times reported, "Ms. Chung had become the object of some of the most ferocious criticism, justified or not, ever directed at any network anchor as a result of her now infamous interview with Speaker Newt Gingrich's mother, Kathleen."[6] The interview was also parodied on Saturday Night Live.[7]

ABC and CNN[edit]

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

She was a 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".[8]

Martina Navratilova interview[edit]

In July 2002 Chung interviewed tennis legend Martina Navratilova, who at that point had been a naturalized U.S. citizen for more than 20 years, about her recent criticisms of the U.S. political system. Chung labelled these criticisms "un-American" and "unpatriotic", and suggested Navratilova should "go back to Czechoslovakia" rather than use her celebrity status to gain a platform for her complaints. When Navratilova asked why it was unpatriotic to speak out, Chung replied, "Well, you know the old line, love it or leave it."[9]

MSNBC[edit]

In January 2006, Chung and Maury Povich 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 later 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 Memory. Video clips of the bizarre, off-key farewell performance circulated on internet video sites. 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."[10] 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."

Teaching[edit]

Chung accepted a teaching fellowship at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.[11] While at Harvard, she wrote a discussion paper titled The Business of Getting "The Get": Nailing an Exclusive Interview in Prime Time.[12][13]

Career timeline[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Dan Rather
CBS Evening News co-anchor
1993–1995

with Dan Rather

Succeeded by
Dan Rather