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Forbes Names Vieira Most Powerful On-Air Woman in Media

     When an anti-business media personality makes a business magazine’s “Most Powerful” list, there is definitely something wrong.

 

     Forbes magazine released its list of the 100 most powerful women in its September 15 issue. Meredith Vieira, host of NBC’s “Today,” came in at number 61 as the top journalist. Vieira beat CBS “Evening News” anchor Katie Couric (ranked 62), ABC News veteran Barbara Walters (63), ABC “Good Morning America” 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 didn’t mention her anti-business bias.

 

     In an April 2008 interview with Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) CEO Richard Anderson, she asked for a “guarantee” that fares would not increase and services would not be reduced after a merger between Delta and Northwest Airlines (NYSE:NWA).

 

     “I was just going to ask if you could guarantee your consumers that you would not reduce their service or raise their fares?” Vieira asked.

 

     But that wasn’t the first time Vieira has gone after a CEO.

 

     On NBC’s “Today” Vieira’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.

 

     “I don’t doubt your sincerity … but do you understand … um … some of the anger that’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,” 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 – he wasn’t “given” $27 million.

 

     Media companies like The New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT) and Time, Inc. (TWX) were also represented in the Forbes “Most Powerful Women” list with chief executives Janet L. Robinson ranked 83 and Ann Moore at 93, respectively.

 

     The magazine said the women on the list did not “have to be rich, but they did have to wield significant influence … We measure power as a composite of public profile – calculated using press mentions – and financial heft.”

 

     Vieira’s on-air rivals have also revealed anti-business leanings as well. In May 2007, Couric warned that “corporate America is out to get” your kids. In March 2007, Walters fawned over Venezuelan socialist dictator Hugo Chavez, calling him “intelligent” and “passionate.” Sawyer was responsible for one of the Business & Media Institute’s “Nine Worst Business Stories” with her 1992 report on Food Lion grocery stores.