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 NBCâs âToday,â came in at number 61 as the top journalist. Vieira beat CBS âEvening Newsâ anchor Katie Couric (ranked 62), ABC News veteran Barbara Walters (63), ABC âGood Morning Americaâ 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 didnât mention her anti-business bias.
In an April 2008 interview with Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) CEO Richard Anderson, she asked for a âguaranteeâ that fares would not increase and services would not be reduced after a merger between Delta and Northwest Airlines (NYSE:NWA).
âI was just going to ask if you could guarantee your consumers that you would not reduce their service or raise their fares?â Vieira asked.
But that wasnât the first time Vieira has gone after a CEO.
On NBCâs âTodayâ Vieiraâs 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.
âI donât doubt your sincerity âŠ but do you understand âŠ um âŠ some of the anger thatâs 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 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 wasnât âgivenâ $27 million.
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The magazine said the women on the list did not âhave to be rich, but they did have to wield significant influence âŠ We measure power as a composite of public profile â calculated using press mentions â and financial heft.â
Vieiraâs on-air rivals have also revealed anti-business leanings as well. In May 2007, Couric warned that âcorporate America is out to getâ your kids. In March 2007, Walters fawned over Venezuelan socialist dictator Hugo Chavez, calling him âintelligentâ and âpassionate.â Sawyer was responsible for one of the Business & Media Instituteâs âNine Worst Business Storiesâ with her 1992 report on Food Lion grocery stores.