Constance Yu-Hwa Chung Povich (Chinese: 宗毓華; pinyin: Zōng Yùhuá; Cantonese Yale: Jung Yukwa; born August 20, 1946), known as Connie Chung, is an American journalist. She has been an anchor and reporter for the U.S. television news networks NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, and MSNBC. Some of her more famous interview subjects include Claus von Bülow and U.S. Representative Gary Condit, whom Chung interviewed first after the Chandra Levy disappearance, and basketball legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson after he went public about being HIV-positive. In 1993, she became only the second female to co-anchor a network newscast as part of CBS Evening News. She was removed in 1995 as CBS Evening News co-anchor after a controversial interview with a fireman, during rescue efforts at the Oklahoma City bombing, which seemed inappropriately combative and her interview tactics to get Newt Gingrich's mother to admit her unguarded thoughts about Hillary Clinton.
She is married to talk show host Maury Povich and they have one adopted son, Matthew Jay Povich.
The youngest of five children, Chung was born and raised in Washington, D.C. less than a year after her family immigrated. Her father, William Ling Chung, was an intelligence officer in the Chinese Nationalist Government.
She graduated from Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland and went on to receive a degree in journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park in 1969. She has been married to talk show host Maury Povich since 1984. Chung converted to Judaism upon her marriage to Povich. Chung has become devoted to the faith, and attends synagogue with her family. Chung has noted publicly that she and Povich maintain a kosher lifestyle year round. Chung announced that she was reducing her workload in 1991 in the hopes of getting pregnant. Together, they have one son, Matthew, whom they adopted on June 20, 1995.
Chung was a Washington-based correspondent for the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite in the early 1970s, during the Watergate political scandal. Later, Chung left to anchor evening newscasts for KNXT (now KCBS-TV), the network's owned and operated station in Los Angeles. Chung also anchored the network's primetime news updates (CBS Newsbreak) for West Coast stations from the KNXT studios at Columbia Square during her tenure there.
In 1983 Chung returned to network news as anchor of NBC's new early program, NBC News at Sunrise, which was scheduled as the lead-in to the Today program. She was also anchor of the Saturday edition of NBC Nightly News starting in 1983. NBC also created American Almanac and 1986, which she co-hosted with Roger Mudd, after he left NBC Nightly News where he had co-anchored for two years with Tom Brokaw.
In 1989, Chung left NBC for CBS where she hosted Saturday Night with Connie Chung (later renamed Face to Face with Connie Chung) (1989-1990), and anchored the CBS Sunday Evening News (1989-1993). On June 1, 1993, she became the second woman (after Barbara Walters with ABC in 1976) to co-anchor a major network's national news weekday broadcast (the first solo national news anchor title in the United States goes to Katie Couric at CBS). While hosting the CBS Evening News, Chung also hosted a side project on CBS, Eye to Eye with Connie Chung. After her unsuccessful co-anchoring stint with Dan Rather ended in 1995, Chung left CBS. She eventually jumped to ABC News where she co-hosted the Monday edition of 20/20 with Charles Gibson and began independent interviews, a field which would soon become her trademark.
Kathleen Gingrich interview
In a January 5, 1995, interview with Kathleen Gingrich, mother of Republican politician Newt Gingrich, on Eye to Eye, Mrs. Gingrich said she could not say what her son thought about First Lady Hillary Clinton on the air. Chung asked Mrs. Gingrich to "just whisper it to me, just between you and me," and Mrs. Gingrich replied that her son thought of Clinton as a "bitch." Many people interpreted Chung's suggestion that if Mrs. Gingrich would whisper this statement it would be promised that the statement would be off the record. Bill Carter for the New York Times reported, "Ms. Chung had become the object of some of the most ferocious criticism, justified or not, ever directed at any network anchor as a result of her now infamous interview with Speaker Newt Gingrich's mother, Kathleen." The interview was also parodied on Saturday Night Live.
Oklahoma City bombing interview
A few months later, in the wake of the April 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, Chung was widely criticized for sarcasm as she asked an Oklahoma City Fire Department spokesman, "Can the Oklahoma City Fire Department handle this?" Many Oklahomans felt the question was insensitive to the situation. For instance, a few women created "Bite Me, Connie Chung" shirts in response to the interview. Thousands of viewers in Oklahoma and elsewhere called and wrote letters of protest over the tone of the questions. Moreover, co-anchor Dan Rather was irate that Chung was sent from New York to the assignment while he was already in nearby Texas. Consequently, after public outcry, and Rather's complaints, Chung was laid off as co-anchor of the CBS Evening News and was offered a demotion to weekend anchor or morning anchor. Chung left the network after being removed as Co-Anchor of CBS Evening News.
In 1997, Chung made the jump to ABC News as a reporter on 20/20, and co-host of the Monday edition of the program alongside Charles Gibson. In 2001, she conducted an interview with Gary Condit, focusing on his relationship with murdered Washington, D.C. intern Chandra Levy.
She was a guest host of the morning program Good Morning America. After short-lived host Lisa McRee left the program, Chung declined to take over on a permanent basis, saying she did not want to broadcast 10 hours a week in the early morning hours.
Chung briefly hosted her own show on CNN entitled Connie Chung Tonight, for which she was paid $2 million per year. Though her arrival at CNN was heavily hyped by the network, her show was panned by critics. CNN changed her show from live to tape-delay to improve its continuity. Although it performed moderately well in the ratings (a 500,000 increase in viewers), her show was suspended once the 2003 Iraq War began. During the war, she was reduced to reading hourly headlines. Once CNN resumed regular programming, Chung requested that CNN resume broadcasting her show as soon as possible. The network responded by cancelling it, even though her contract had not yet expired. In an interview, CNN founder Ted Turner called the show "just awful."
In July 2002 Chung interviewed tennis legend Martina Navratilova, who at that point had been a naturalized U.S. citizen for more than 20 years, about her recent criticisms of the U.S. political system. Chung labelled these criticisms "un-American" and "unpatriotic", and suggested Navratilova should "go back to Czechoslovakia" rather than use her celebrity status to gain a platform for her complaints. When Navratilova asked why it was unpatriotic to speak out, Chung replied, "Well, you know the old line, love it or leave it."
In January 2006, Chung and Maury Povich began hosting a show titled Weekends with Maury and Connie on MSNBC. It was Chung's first appearance as a television host since 2003. The show was later canceled and aired its final episode on June 17, 2006. On this episode, Chung, dressed in a white evening gown and dancing atop a black piano, sang a parody to the tune of "Thanks for the Memory". Video clips of the bizarre, off-key farewell performance circulated on internet video sites. Connie herself commented, "All I want to be sure of is that viewers understood it was a giant self-parody. If anyone took it seriously, they really need to get a life." On the June 27, 2006 episode of The Tonight Show, Jay Leno interviewed Chung about her "Thanks for the Memory" parody. During the interview, Chung poked fun at her show's low ratings, referring to the musical number as a "private joke for our two viewers".
Chung's interviews were largely gentle, but often they were punctuated by a rapid-fire barrage of sharp questions. Despite this, her interviews were still widely recognized as being decidedly softer than those of other interviewers, such as Barbara Walters or Mike Wallace. Consequently, her interviews were often used as a public relations move by those looking to overcome scandal or controversy. Some of her more famous interview subjects include Claus von Bülow and U.S. Representative Gary Condit, whom Chung interviewed first after the Chandra Levy disappearance. Chung was the first journalist to interview basketball legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson after he went public about being HIV-positive.
Chung was a judge for the Miss Universe 2011 contest.
Chung accepted a teaching fellowship at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. While at Harvard, she wrote a discussion paper titled The Business of Getting "The Get": Nailing an Exclusive Interview in Prime Time.
Chung played a TV news reporter named Connie Chung in the 1984 movie Moscow on the Hudson. She was portrayed as the reporter covering the defection at Bloomingdales of Vladimir Ivanov portrayed by Robin Williams.
- 1976–1983: Evening news co-anchor at CBS-owned KNXT in Los Angeles
- 1983–1986: NBC News at Sunrise anchor
- 1983–1984, 1987–1989: NBC Nightly News Saturday anchor
- 1989–1990: Saturday Night with Connie Chung/Face to Face with Connie Chung anchor
- 1989-1993: CBS Sunday Evening News anchor
- 1993–1995: CBS Evening News co-anchor (with Dan Rather)
- 1993–1995: Eye to Eye with Connie Chung anchor
- 1998–2002: 20/20 anchor
- 1999–2000: ABC 2000 Today correspondent
- 2002–2003: Connie Chung Tonight anchor
- 2006: Weekends with Maury and Connie anchor