New York Times op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd, described by more than one admirer as a babe herself, has been thinking a lot lately about gender and age — she has written a whole book about just that — and today (Saturday) she devotes her column in the Times (subscription required) to the same topic.


Pondering the game of musical chairs going on at more than one network evening news show, Dowd approvingly notes that Elizabeth Vargas, ABC’s new co-anchor of the evening news, “is not a news division heavyweight, but she is a lovely, competent Hispanic woman,” who might draw a more diverse audience than the current demographic “that mostly attracts sponsors like Viagra and Depends.”


Reversing course, Dowd then describes Vargas’ new partner on the evening news as “pretty-boy android Bob Woodruff.” Just to rub it in, she dismisses Anderson Cooper, who recently knocked off Aaron Brown over at CNN, as “being fetching enough to make People’s Sexiest Man Alive list.”


Apparently, in Dowd World, it’s more than okay for a multi-million dollar newscaster to be a babe (Vargas) but not so good at all to be a pretty-boy (Woodruff) or a hunk (Cooper).


We have no idea if either Vargas, Woodruff or Cooper will bring the gravitas to work out in their new roles. Truth be told, none of the three has that that much of a track record at taking us by the hand and guiding us through the intricacies of a horrific news event — which is, as Dowd notes, a big part of what an anchor’s supposed to do. As for gravitas, that elusive quality may be over-rated.


But after reading Mo’s column, we do feel comfortable in declaring that hell hath no fury like a babe peeved by the sight of a man who doesn’t look like Walter Cronkite delivering the evening news.

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Steve Lovelady was editor of CJR Daily.