Forbes Names Vieira Most Powerful On-Air Woman in Media
Forbes magazine released its list of the 100 most powerful women in its September 15 issue. Meredith Vieira, host of NBCâ€™s â€śToday,â€ť came in at number 61 as the top journalist. Vieira beat CBS â€śEvening Newsâ€ť anchor Katie Couric (ranked 62), ABC News veteran Barbara Walters (63), ABC â€śGood Morning Americaâ€ť co-host Diane Sawyer (65) and CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour (91).
Despite her $10-million annual salary, according to the April 13 Parade Magazine, Vieira has had difficulty reporting on business practices in a free market. The Forbes list didnâ€™t mention her anti-business bias.
In an April 2008 interview with Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) CEO Richard Anderson, she asked for a â€śguaranteeâ€ť that fares would not increase and services would not be reduced after a merger between Delta and Northwest Airlines (NYSE:NWA).
â€śI was just going to ask if you could guarantee your consumers that you would not reduce their service or raise their fares?â€ť Vieira asked.
But that wasnâ€™t the first time Vieira has gone after a CEO.
On NBCâ€™s â€śTodayâ€ť Vieiraâ€™s took on Northwest Airlines (NYSE:NWA) CEO Douglas Steenland in August 2007. She asked him to promise not to cancel flights and criticized him for almost the entire five-and-a-half minute segment.
â€śI donâ€™t doubt your sincerity â€¦ but do you understand â€¦ um â€¦ some of the anger thatâ€™s been directed at you? I mean these pilots, for example flight attendants, they took pay cuts, to help save this airline at the same time you were given almost $27 million in stock and stock options,â€ť Vieira said during that interview Aug. 15, 2007.
Steenland corrected her, reminding her that stock gains depend on how the company does in the next few years â€“ he wasnâ€™t â€śgivenâ€ť $27 million.
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The magazine said the women on the list did not â€śhave to be rich, but they did have to wield significant influence â€¦ We measure power as a composite of public profile â€“ calculated using press mentions â€“ and financial heft.â€ť
Vieiraâ€™s on-air rivals have also revealed anti-business leanings as well. In May 2007, Couric warned that â€ścorporate America is out to getâ€ť your kids. In March 2007, Walters fawned over Venezuelan socialist dictator Hugo Chavez, calling him â€śintelligentâ€ť and â€śpassionate.â€ť Sawyer was responsible for one of the Business & Media Instituteâ€™s â€śNine Worst Business Storiesâ€ť with her 1992 report on Food Lion grocery stores.