MARCO ISLAND — Is it the quality of Fox News anchors and reporters? Nah. Is it O'Reilly's bloviating, Hannity's hair or Krauthammer's genius? No way. According to Liza Mundy, writing in Atlantic Magazine, the Fox secret weapon is a shocker ... Fox's News makeup staff. Yep, makeup.
Writer Mundy quotes a CNN makeup artist as saying, "At Fox, they look very painted." Phrases thrown around by critics of Fox's mascara magic and loads of eyeliner include "pageant queen" and "Fox glam."
Mundy writes, "A publicist who works with high-profile news makers recalled that Fox covered one client's face with so much bronzer that she 'looked like a female George Hamilton.' "
The article is a mess of contradictions, including claims that Fox is pandering to older male viewers, followed by the headline news that many women viewers also enjoy the view on Fox, not to be confused with "The View," a dreary daytime talkfest on ABC.
We wondered whether local TV news anchors have makeup "issues," so we asked our friend, NBC 2 news anchor Kellie Burns.
"The look for TV news anchors has definitely changed, especially on cable," Kellie says. "It seems the requirement is now super model/beauty queen, instead of journalist/communicator.
"Still, I'm very attached to my makeup and can't imagine appearing on air without it, especially with those huge HD televisions. My freckles would look like craters and my wrinkles like caverns. It would be very distracting to our viewers if I did not wear it.
"On a daily basis, I do my own hair and makeup, using special HD makeup. It's a Godsend. HD is not my friend." Kellie is way too modest, but she has a point.
TV News uses makeup to enhance the product, just as performers have done have done for centuries. Consider the makeup madness that made "Cleopatra" a bigger box office draw than "Joan of Arc," even after Ms. Arc resorted to that fiery publicity stunt.
When we were toiling in TV land, we mostly had to self- apply whatever TV makeup was required.
In the '60s when I (Don) got my first on-air TV job, in Philadelphia, I was uneasy about buying some "pancake" makeup, so I asked my wife to go with me and pretend it was for her.
She told the sales woman she wanted the darkest shade.
"Oh no, dear, it's much too dark for you." the lady said, as I squirmed. My wife persisted. The clerk pushed back. Finally the standoff was resolved.
"It's not for me," my wife said. "It's for my husband here."
Our end of the cosmetics counter got very quiet. The transaction was completed and we hurried out of the department store.
From the founding of CNN in 1980, my wife Chris and I would apply our own makeup at our desks, right before we'd rush to the anchor desk to present the news.
At any TV station anywhere, male anchors who do the 11 p.m. newscast as well as the 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. programs have a makeup dilemma, whenever they go out to dinner between newscasts.
I always hated to take the makeup off, then have to reapply it for the late newscast. Yet leaving it on in a restaurant sometimes got funny looks from other diners.
So, the question is whether to be vain and remove the TV makeup between shows or to be vain and leave it on. Or to eat only in dark restaurants.Chris Curle is a former news anchor for CNN and for ABC-TV stations in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Houston. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Don is a former ABC News correspondent and bureau chief and a former news anchor for CNN and ABC-TV, in Atlanta. His Farmer File column appears Fridays in the Naples Daily News. E-mail: email@example.com.