Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not a morning person. This means that every day I get up, fire up the computer for emails, stagger into the kitchen to make a blistering hot, strong 20 oz. mug of coffee and finally, click on New York’s Channel One to check on the weather and/or news while sinking into the sofa and trying to wake up. Ergo: I hate mornings or as Moss Hart once famously said, “Nothing happens before noon, that doesn’t happen after.”
All of this helps me face the day. New York One focuses on local events, e.g., overnight fires, traffic accidents, club shootings, gang fights – just regular, everyday New York stuff. It’s calming to see the same faces diligently reporting all this mayhem in a civilized way.
Later I go out and buy, among other things, the New York Post. This is America’s oldest continuously published daily newspaper. It started in 1801 (50 years before the New York Times) – or a whopping 218 years ago. Yes, I check late-breaking news on the computer, but it’s not the same. The Post is great for gossip that the stuffy, old Times won’t touch. Then every Saturday morning I make a point of buying the Weekend Financial Times, a worldwide publication that, in my estimation, is the best on the planet.
All of this is a preamble to my reaction on Thursday, June 20, 2019 when I picked up the Post and saw a photo of five female Channel One anchors with the headline: “Lawsuit: NY 1 Made Us…Yesterday’s News.” I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I quickly turned to page 4 where a second head read: “THE BAD-NEWS: Five female anchors file age, gender lawsuit.”
A BLISTERING LAWSUIT
The first paragraph reads: “Five veteran NY1 anchorwomen have lost their airtime to younger female reporters WHO RESEMBLE THEM (remember those three words) – even as also-older male talent, Pat Kiernan remains the news channel’s golden boy. The suit was filed on Wednesday, June 19 against NY1’s parent company, Charter Communications.
THE WOMEN RANGE IN AGE FROM 40 TO 60
The anchors claim that Charter’s 2016 merger (with founding parent company Time Warner Cable) marked the beginning of a precipitous decline for their careers that continues to this day. “This has nothing to do with the talents and abilities of those coming up behind us,” says anchor Vivian Lee, age 44. “Rather,” she adds, “It has everything to do with staking our claim to what we have rightfully earned.” Wow!
AN EXCEEDINGLY HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT
The suit claims, “Their on-air time has been dramatically reduced, anchoring opportunities have disappeared, prime reporting roles have been taken away and promotional efforts have vanished. All of these opportunities have been snatched from plaintiffs and distributed to younger women and men with substantially less experience.”
“LOOK ALIKE” REPLACEMENTS HAVE BEEN HIRED
Now, here’s the really insulting part: “Kristen Shaughnessy, Jeanine Ramirez, Vivian Lee and Amanda Farinacci say that LOOK ALIKE younger talent has replaced them. For example: Bree Driscoll (like Shaughnessy is white and blonde) while Angi Gonzalez and Lydia Hu (like Ramirez and Lee, are Latina and Asian).
“THAT’S THE WAY IT IS. TOO BAD, BOO HOO”
When Roma Torre went to Charter’s HR department the quote above is what she heard. In 2017, when Pat Kiernan, the male anchor celebrated his 20th Anniversary at NY1 he was toasted with over-the-top promotions – the same year marked Torre’s 25th Anniversary. Her milestone was met with silence. Even more insulting: when she won a 2019 Emmy for her theatre reviews – her victory showed a picture of Kiernan photographing Torre. It never ends!
Hats off to Lia Eustachewich, Aaron Feis, Yaron Steinbuch and Andrew Denney for this excellent report. Stay tuned.
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