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Sexifying the News

Wednesday, 09 January 2002 12:00 AM

"You know why this show works?" asked the insightful longtime TV producer.

Without waiting for a reply he continued: "It's because of Vanna! People love to look at her while their minds try to get the right words. But it is the

Nine years later as head of the Fox News Channel, Ailes was struggling with his daytime lineup. His prime-time nightly shows - "Hannity & Colmes" and Bill O'Reilly - were already challenging rival CNN. But the daytime block was doing badly.

Soon Ailes had his winning formula. First he hired longtime New York radio newscaster Brigitte Quinn and gave her the time slot from 9 a.m. to noon.

Then he lured Linda Vester away from NBC and inserted her in the afternoons.

Then he made a

Guess what?

Fox's daytime ratings began a steady, unstoppable climb upward.

Then last year Ailes hired Laurie Dhue away from MSNBC and put her on in evenings and on specials. Recently voted the "hottest" newscaster on network TV, Dhue has helped raise the ratings even more.

And then Fox management must have sent out a memo to all their makeup artists: "Use tons of lip gloss on all our female hosts"!

Some purists malign this "Vanna White-ing" of serious news. But Ailes is no fool. Ratings are

CNN is finally beginning to figure this out. Its ill-conceived promotional advertisement for the new Paula Zahn show was stressing how "sexy" she is. It yanked the ad - but its new set prominently features her legs jutting out from under the anchor desk.

MSNBC also has sexed up its new star - Ashleigh Banfield - and made her the centerpiece of their war coverage.

Clearly viewers figure that they can listen to someone read the news while also looking at a nice figure. Better than looking at some 65-year-old guy.

Substance, you ask?

Well, thankfully MSNBC has hired Alan Keyes and given him the 10 p.m. slot up against Fox's new Greta Van Susteren show and CNN's Aaron Brown.

Prediction: Keyes will do surprisingly well.

Why? Not because he's sexy, but because he is serious and principled and unpredictable and substantive. All the things that serious viewers want.

Meanwhile, CNN and Fox will duke it out - with more sex undoubtedly interjected on both networks.

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You know why this show works? asked the insightful longtime TV producer. Without waiting for a reply he continued: It's because of Vanna! People love to look at her while their minds try to get the right words. But it is the Nine years later as head of the Fox...
Sexifying,the,News
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2002-00-09
Wednesday, 09 January 2002 12:00 AM
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