The Maury Povich School of Journalism?
Talk-show host Maury Povich (Penn ’62) is not a bottom-feeding pimp. He just plays one on TV.
“Maury,” a fat, screaming hit, features spontaneous guest brawls, “Who Da Baby Daddy?” DNA segments and feral teenage girls in heat. Ben Franklin would call it “sluts and nuts.” Povich calls it “edgy.”
“Edgy” pays better. Povich last week made his second $1 million donation to his alma mater—this one to establish a fund for journalism programs. He and his wife, former CBS anchor Connie Chung, trained in from New York for a campus shindig in their honor.
I’ve always had a soft spot for “Mo Po,” but “Povich” and “journalism” in the same sentence just radiates irony. Check out some “Maury” titles:
“Is My Husband Cheating with My Sister … Again?”
“My 3 Teen Girls Are Violent and Oversexed!”
“I’m 17 … Which of These Boys is My Baby’s Dad?”
“My Teen Wants to be a Prostitute and Have a Baby!”
“My Wife’s a Sex Addict … Am I Her Baby’s Father?”
In Ben Franklin’s words, “As Pride increases, Fortune declines.” In Povich’s words, 20 years in the syndicated trenches have honed his defensive skills to a fine edge. He’s not afraid to return fire.
“Ten percent of all kids in this country are living with the wrong father,” says the proud papa of three. “You think that’s a particular social issue that maybe the politicians should be dealing with?”
“You’ve got an out-of-control kid of 13 who wants to get pregnant. Don’t you think that’s a social issue the politicians should be interested in? Just because it’s a part of society they don’t want to deal with doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”
Chung, 64, who endured a tense, mercifully short-lived co-anchorship with Dan Rather in the early ’90s, stands by her man. The non-“Maury” Maury is a smart guy, she says. “He’s a history buff. A political buff. A reader of good writing. His knowledge is beyond comprehension.”
Beyond comprehension for Chung is why her Ivy League husband plays drum major to a band of genetic mutants when he could be interviewing toilet-trained guests with double-digit IQs.
“I always tell him, ‘Why not do a good, thoughtful interview show?.” Chung says. “‘You’re smart, well read, a good interviewer. You could run circles around some of these people.’ He says, ‘As long as you know that, I’m fine.’ He’s very secure in who he is.”
It depends on which “he” you’re talking about—the host or the husband.
“When I watch his show, I want to be married to that guy, not the one who comes home,” Chung says. “He’s so nice. He listens to everybody’s problems. Even if they scream and cry and go nuts, he’s very calm and sensible.”
At home, however, Chung says Mr. Empathy turns “grumpy, grouchy, cranky.” (What, no Sleepy? No Dopey? No Bashful?) “He doesn’t want to hear anybody’s problems, especially mine. He kvetches all the time. He’s an altacocker now.”
An altacocker with a mega-bucks contract through the 2013-14 season. Genetic mutants and all.