Special guest Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's
The Daily Show put his finger squarely on the pulse of Connie
Chung Tonight by telling the host, "It's an honor to be here,
especially following arson and pedophilia."
Lucky him, he now can devote his full attention
to parodying CNN's newest "news" program. That should be easy
as pie judging from Monday's stupefying premiere.
Ms. Chung, formerly of CBS, NBC, CBS again
and ABC, nonetheless seemed out of sorts, out of sync, even
out of her league. Deploying tabloid teases and sound effects
that sounded like incoming missile attacks, she went to battle
against Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor with a show that
surely will have him laughing uproariously if he ever bothers
watching it. In other words, it was pretty bad.
Perhaps even a battle-scarred vet like Ms.
Chung is entitled to a few opening night jitters. She's never
anchored her own live program before, and that requires thinking
on one's feet. A thought occurs. Ms. Chung just doesn't look
up to this task. So how's she going to do it five nights a week?
The one-hour program began with a brief segment
on the big news of the day – President Bush's call for
the removal of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Ms. Chung talked
to CNN senior White House correspondent John King and then to
Wolf Blitzer in Jerusalem.
"The Palestinians have to be disappointed,"
she informed Mr. Blitzer, who of course had to agree.
No time to tarry, though. CNN had spent much
of the day promoting Ms. Chung's two big "exclusives." One was
an awkward live interview with a brother-in-law of accused Colorado
arsonist Terry Lynn Barton. Then came her "heart-wrenching,"
pre-taped interrogation of Milwaukeean Paul Weiser, a possessor
of child pornography who was turned in by "Dear Abby" columnist
Jeanne Phillips after he wrote her seeking advice on how to
deal with his fantasies about having sex with young girls. He's
now on probation.
Titled "Cry For Help" and affixed with a
variety of tawdry teases, the two-part Weiser interview was
bridged by an "Up to the Minute" news update from CNN newcomer
Anderson Cooper. He might be more familiar to some as the host
of ABC's Mole II: The Betrayal. Training grounds for network
news anchors just aren't what they used to be.
Ms. Chung earlier was interviewed on CNN's
Crossfire, which immediately preceded the debut of Connie Chung
Tonight. And while her pedophilia interview ran, CNN's omnipresent
"News Crawl" reminded viewers that Mr. Stewart would be appearing
on Connie Chung Tonight .
Remarkably, Ms. Chung didn't have anything
stenciled on her forehead. She could have used that valuable
space to tout her inept interview with three members of the
U.S. World Cup soccer team, to whom she gave "fives" beforehand.
Mr. Stewart hung around as the designated
court jester for that one. Maybe he was still in shock from
Ms. Chung asking him whether he'd been approached to replace
either Dan Rather or Peter Jennings.
"Are you serious?" he asked.
"You're very good at anchoring," she
assured him. "I'm telling you, you really are. You do it very
Here's the scary part. Don't think for a
minute that she didn't really mean it.