Shales On 'Little Ms Politics.'

Just in case you were wondering if I was too hard on Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales yesterday for his shallow and pernicious critique of Christiane Amanpour as ABC's choice to replace George Stephanopoulos on This Week, this is what he had to say about her during his live chat with readers :

Well you're talking about reworking the whole show -- so not discuss domestic politics? It's George Will's specialty though of course he can discuss international affairs as well. But it was conceived (for David Brinkley) as a discussion show about Washington DC, capital city....... I wonder if ABC is really going to revise the show or if they aren't going to try to turn Amanpour into Little ms Politics.

Amanpour has spent decades reporting from some of the most dangerous parts of the world since the first Gulf War. She's interviewed people like Iranian President Mahmoud Amadinejad, Syrian President Bashar el Assad, and the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. You'd think, that with a career like that, she might avoid being patronized because of her gender by another journalist.

A reader points out that Shales' colleague at the Post, Lisa de Moraes, thinks Amanpour is a smart choice.

Lisa said Christiane is a smart choice? I didn't know we were having a feud about it. I think Christiane is one of the most over-rated and hyped personalities of our day. There's a reason that 60 Minutes didn't pick up her contract; she disappointed them. Anyway c'est la vie.

Can't speak to why 60 Minutes didn't pick up Amanpour's contract, but she won two Emmys and a Peabody when she was there. On the other hand, she has lady parts and lived in Iran as a child. Tough call.

Shales also managed to catch the all important "but what about her hair?" angle that is so often missed by the most experienced veteran journalists. Here he is responding to a reader who agreed with him about Amanpour being a bad choice:

THANK YOU, isn't Montana "the cleanest state in the land of the free"? Well even if not -- clear thinking out there. You make excellent points about Amanpour's unsuitability for the job. And neither you nor I has stooped to mentioning that hair of hers -- yipe. What's the deal with that, as David Letterman might say.

Before Shales tried to make the case that because Amanpour isn't a regular on CNN's regular pundit gab fests, she'd be ill-suited for a Sunday news show. But I think it's becoming clear that Shales is the one who was out of his depth here.

-- A. Serwer

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