THE HOUSES OF JOURNALIST COUNTY: Meredith Vieira’s new show!


Part 1—Our scribes are just like us:
Today, we start our long-awaited, award-winning series, “The Houses of Journalist County.”

As we start, we assert a key point:

As far as we know, award-winning journalist Meredith Vieira is a perfectly decent person. We state that view for several reasons.

In our experience, most people are decent people. (This general fact is sometimes overlooked.)

We have no reason to suspect that Vieira is the exception. Indeed, in some respects, the opposite seems to be true.

Beyond that, Vieira’s image is built around the notion that she’s a good person—perhaps a very good person. In profiles of Vieira, her underlings, colleagues, investors and friends are constantly telling us this.

According to Vieira herself, Vieira is a little bit wacky and a little bit crazy, even perhaps a little bit raunchy and unable to shut her big mouth. But she’s also a kind and caring person—and she’s just like you.

Meredith Vieira is just like you! This claim has come into play across the nation as Vieira has promoted her new weekday program, which debuts next Monday.

The program will be called The Meredith Vieira Show. According to Vieira, Vieira didn’t want to call it that, being surprisingly shy.

Why would our award-winning series start with the roll-out of Vieira’s new show?

You’re asking an excellent question! Here’s why:

Last Sunday, Vieira was featured on the cover of Parade, a publication we sometimes discard. On this occasion, we were intrigued by the magazine’s cover, which showed a very casual Vieira standing casually in a place which looked a bit like Cape Cod.

Our suspicion was triggered and confirmed by the blurbs on the cover. These were the blurbs in question:
Meredith Vieira at home on Cape Cod
“I want people to see the real me”
The caption said that Vieira was standing “on Uncle Tim’s Bridge in Cape Cod.”

Inside Parade, Vieira spoke with journalist Brooke Hauser at her “cottage” on the Cape, which she likes better than the Hamptons because the Hamptons are refined while the Cape is scruffy.

In this passage, Vieira explained the point of her new program:
HAUSER (8/24/14): On Sept. 8, she will debut as host of The Meredith Vieira Show, which she hopes will entertain as much as it will inspire. In addition to game-show elements and celebrity guests, the hour-long weekday program, produced and distributed by NBC Universal, will feature human interest stories and community calls to action. In one recurring segment, Vieira will pair a service dog with a family in need. In another, the show’s Pick Me Up Truck will roam the country looking for ways to lend a little support, whether by donating books to schools or connecting someone to a job.

“I want a show that, in its own little way, will make a difference—without being up on a soapbox,” says the multiple Emmy winner, who has been brainstorming ideas with her executive producer, Rich Sirop. The pair also worked on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, which Vieira hosted for 11 years through a suffering economy. “When times were really bad, you could change someone’s life just by playing that game,” she says.


The name game aside, Vieira has been adamant about having the show reflect who she really is. “Meredith is exactly the same on-camera as she is off,” says Sirop. “She’s a kisser, and we joke that her lips carry more germs than a door handle, because she’s probably kissed 100 strangers before coming to work.” Originally, Vieira wanted to film at her house in New York’s Westchester County, “because I would never have to get dressed up,” she jokes. “My husband said, ‘Forget about it.’ But I said, ‘Then at least I want the authenticity of my furniture.’ The cats and the dog ruined it, and I just want people to see this is how I live, and probably the way a lot of people live.” So while the show will be filmed at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the set has been designed to look like her family room. “I want people to feel they are, in a sense, coming into my home,” she says. “It’s a safe place where you talk, you laugh, you cry.”
At this point, we’ll be perfectly honest. We didn’t exactly believe some of the insinuations and claims found in that passage.

We didn’t exactly believe that Vieira originally wanted the show to be filmed at her house. We didn’t exactly believe that anyone on the production end ever considered, or would have considered, that idea.

We didn’t exactly believe the idea that Vieira’s cats and dog have ruined her furniture. (The logic of that statement is more clear in other profiles.) Most of all, we didn’t exactly believe this:

“I just want people to see this is how I live, and probably the way a lot of people live.”

We didn’t exactly believe that the set for Vieira’s show will show us “how she lives.” Most of all, we didn’t exactly believe that Vieira lives “the way a lot of people live.”

We suspected that Vieira might actually live in one of The Houses of Journalist County—and we decided to check our suspicion out.

Does it actually matter how Vieira lives? On the whole, no—it doesn’t actually matter.

In another way, yes—it actually does.

Vieira is 60 years old. When she is profiled, she is often (accurately) described as an Emmy-winning journalist who has worked on major TV programs like 60 Minutes and Today.

That said, what kind of journalism are we likely to get from the people who live in The Houses of Journalist County? From people who have earned from five to twelve million dollars per year over the course of quite a few years, as is the case with Vieira?

Do such journalists really live “the way a lot of people live?” From their representations about themselves, are we likely to get a clear idea about “who they really are?”

More important, what kinds of journalism are such people likely to offer after years of living in Journalist County? When she should be at the height of her powers, Vieira seems to be offering “game-show elements and celebrity guests,” along with a truck which will “roam the country looking for ways” to donate books to schools.

That sounded like meager gruel to us. We decided to take a trip to The Houses of Journalist County.

How does Vieira actually live? What is her Cape Cod “cottage” like? How about the Westchester County home where she lives, by her own admission, “the way a lot of people live?”

Does she really lives “the way a lot of people live?” Will we see how she really lives if we watch her program?

Most importantly, what about Vieira’s journalism? What ever happened to that? Why would an award-winning journalist be wasting her time with “game-show elements” and celebrity guests, most of whom live right next door to The Houses of Journalist County?

Our interest in this award-winning series started with the creation of a new journalistic narrative. In this narrative, the Washington Post began telling the world that possible candidate Hillary Clinton just has way too much cash—cash right up the yin-yang.

The theme got a kick-start from Diane Sawyer, who lives in some of the finest houses in all of Journalist County. As we’ve noted, we thought it was a bit rich to see Sawyer creating this theme—and so, we started taking side trips in our own little truck to The Houses of Journalist County.

We found those side trips quite intriguing. In a slightly comical way, Parade’s profile of Vieira—and other profiles to which it led—captured some basic themes.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll show you what we’ve learned about some of The Houses of Journalist County. We’ll also ponder the journalism emerging from those addresses.

For years, we’ve been advancing a basic idea at this site: You can’t run a middle-class democracy with a multimillionaire press corps.

If memory serves, the idea began to take shape in the fall of 1999, when Mary McGrory was so concerned with Candidate Gore’s funny clothes, as opposed to his proposals for the nation’s health care (or those of Candidate Bradley).

The years since then have convinced us of a basic idea—this country rarely receive real journalism from the zip codes which contain The Houses of Journalist County. The promotion of Vieira’s new show lets us start to explore some of our basic themes.

We assume that Vieira is a perfectly decent person. As far as we know, she hasn’t been involved in building the new insider theme in which potential candidate Clinton is said to have way too much cash.

That said, she lives in The Houses of Journalist County. Based on our trips in our own little truck, we’d say it has started to show.

Tomorrow: A quick review of the houses

Also coming in our award-winning series:

Thursday: The Comical Bullroar of Journalist County
Friday: The (non-existent) journalism within that upper-end world

Coming next week:
Jacob Weisberg’s prescient warning about Journalist County—in 1986!


  1. IMHO Bob has a point. Very wealthy people are apt to have a different approach to journalism than, say, Bob Somerby. Bob's liberalism is, I suppose, more sincere than Meredith Viera's.

    And, yet, these very wealthy journalists aren't conservatives. The majority are liberals. (Perhaps that's because it's hard for conservatives to get top jobs in most of the mainstream media. A few conservative journalists have become wealthy, mostly via Fox News or radio talk shows)

    So, what is the true dominant philosophy of wealthy, more-or-less liberal journalists? Bob seems to think it's watered-down liberalism.

    1. I had a long reply typed out DinC, but it came down to the simple fact that you're an idiot. A willful, blithering idiot. Members of the millionaire press corps may espouse liberal stances on meaningless social issues, BUT THEIR WORK has been and always is in stark contrast to liberal and populist goals and movements. That's literally the entire point of what Bob has been doing for 10+ years.

      DinC you blind fool - you really have zero capacity to learn.

    2. Marcus, please calm down. You and I are saying pretty much the same thing in different words. Yes, their work is in contrast to populism. That's why I called their liberalism "watered-down."

      I am surprised that you consider social issues meaningless. Do you really consider gay marriage, affirmative action, racial and ethnic discrimination, a woman's right to choose abortion, women's rights, etc. to be meaningless?

    3. Dave - it's true. Your post is passive aggressive and shows a willful ignorance when you think about what Bob has written about so long and what he says about the middle class in this post. Boohoo about the media all being so liberal. You're playing a game that is much dumber that you seem to be.

    4. I would argue that our high end media are not ideologues. Their ultimate job is to promote elite interests as if they were the common good. They serve power.

    5. 12:39 would you say you are using Fawn Brodie procedures
      in calling David in Cal's comment "passive aggressive"?

    6. 12:38, Saw a study done awhile back that stated so-called mainstream media tended to be more liberal regarding social issues such as abortion, gay rights, etc. and more conservative regarding economic and foreign policy (war) issues than the general public as a whole.

    7. There's a parallel with politicians who conservatives scathingly call "RINOs" -- conservatives in name only. Marcus might consider these wealthy journalists to be LINOs. However, from a conservative POV, I'd rather elect a RINO than a flat-out liberal. Similarly, liberals would no doubt be happier to see mainstream media shows hosted by LINOs than by, e.g., Rush Limbaugh.

    8. Conservatives in name only are called CINOS and wingnuts in name only are called WINOS.

    9. "I'm surprised you consider social issues meaningless."

      Read Comp Fail. Let me help: "social issues [that are] meaningless."

      And Zoddy is the troll?

    10. Yes 5:39, that's a possible interpretation. However, these big bucks journalists do generally agree with the liberal position on all the social issues I mentioned. So, under your interpretation, Marcus's statement would be incorrect.

    11. 646: your chain of reasoning is strange.

    12. Since the "liberal" position on social issues is actually pretty consistent with the public's at large (pro abortion rights, mildly pro gay marriage, and so on), it's only your own hyper-partisan definition of "liberal vs conservative" that is the issue here. And of course, showing instances where these "journalists" allowed their putative biases to inform their actual reporting is more than should be expected of a pea-brain troll like yourself.

    13. Ahh yes, the old "liberal media" canard.
      The one where the corporate-owned media is liberal. When the obvious nonsense (that corporations are liberals!)is pointed out, they fall back to the one where the liberal on-air talent tells the boss how to run his business. Anyone who states such idiocy should be forced to go into work and tell their boss they know better than the boss, and report back how that worked out.


    14. the "liberal" position on social issues is actually pretty consistent with the public's at large (pro abortion rights, mildly pro gay marriage, and so on

      I don't fully agree. I think a narrow majority of the public now supports gay marriage, but that's a recent development. Gay marriage was defeated in a number of state referendums.

      The public is similarly split on abortion. E.g., see this Gallup Poll Support for abortion to be legal in all circumstances is about 50-50 .

    15. Who gives a fuck what YOU agree with, you smelly troll? The conservative opinion is that abortion is akin to murder. If they could outlaw it entirely, they would. That is not what the rest of the country believes. Therefore, a reporter who (privately) has the same opinion as the rest of the country (ie, not conservative) isn't being liberal, but being a typical American. And none of this matters anyway until you stop chomping on turd logs long enough to show that the actual reporting is liberal, whatever the biases of the reporters might or might not be. But you can't. Enjoy those turd logs.

  2. Meredith Viera, Bob? Really?

    1. As long as Bob is visiting homes of former Today Show hosts, I am hopeful he has time to drop in on J. Fredd Muggs in Citrus Park, Fla. where he lives with his long time companion
      Phoebe Beebee. Muggs is credited with making Today a success, bringing in over $100 million to NBC.

    2. A current product roll out complete with a PR campaign that plays right into a primary theme of Somerby's discussion. Makes sense as a starting point.

    3. Except that Viera's product is not "journalism" and the fact Somerby seems not to recognize that plays right into a primary theme of all the people his corps of equally discerning fans call "trolls."

    4. Is Diane Saywer's product journalism? The upper end media looks like all game show hosts to me. Seems they market themselves much the same as well.

    5. The choice of Vieira is interesting because it is fair to ask why a long time journalist is doing less journalism the more visible she becomes.

    6. Vieira quit being a reporter decades ago because she did not want to travel due to family obligations, and instead became a talk and game show host. Choosing her is interesting because it may show what being locked up as a sole blogger like BOB can do to teachers. Does BOB, like Fawn Brodie, suffer from Strange Logical Connection Syndrome? Does a game and talk show host really seem the best example through which to probe journalism by the rich and famous? That said, we don't know.

  3. "We didn’t exactly believe the idea that Vieira’s cats and dog have ruined her furniture. (The logic of that statement is more clear in other profiles.)"

    We didn't exactly believe Bob read multiple profiles of talk show hosts to verify accuracy of claims about pets until it became clear in this series.

    1. I believe he did. Don't have any reason not to. The guy like has Aspergers.

  4. "You can’t run a middle-class democracy with a multimillionaire press corps."

    Does the same hold true for the sainted Walter and David?

    1. "Grant Griffith, an agent at Pardoe Real Estate in the District, held an open house three weeks ago on a 58-acre property in Rappahannock County that was designed and builtby author and retired television anchorman David Brinkley. Brinkley sold the house about 10 years ago. Still called the "Brinkley house," and with a Brinkley Lane address, the property, which includes a fish-stocked pond and a charming three-bedroom, three-bath wood house, is on the market for $638,000."

      Washington Post 2001

    2. "The Walter Cronkite estate: Bought by the late CBS news anchor in 1974 for $175,700 and sold by his heirs for $11.3 million in January, the waterfront estate at 40 Green Hollow Road in Edgartown features a circa-1929 Dutch colonial home with six bedrooms on 1.3 acres. New owners David and Karen Brush of London, summer visitors since the mid-1980s, say they plan to keep intact the character of the relatively simple home."

      Martha's Vineyards Maganzine 2011

    3. Perhaps that is indeed one of the reasons why we are no longer a middle class democracy.

  5. butt bobby ...her old man not doing so good ... other people you can stick your fans into !!!

  6. Well, it's unlikely people who reach the top of a profession compensated on the basis of how many millions of an audience they command are going to be paid middle class wages. I guess we might as well give up and realize that liberal democracy is an impossibility.

  7. These "folks" who live in gated and patrolled communities don't understand why middle and lower class people backed Zimmerman and the Ferguson police. People who live in the real world where a response from police takes 30 minutes if they show up at all and meanwhile thugs destroy their communities.

    1. More people will have to take the law into their own hands, because they can't sit around waiting for the justice department to save them from having their economy destroyed by the thugs on Wall Street.


  8. OMB (Fawning Chains of Logic with the OTB)

    Part Dois:

    "Does it actually matter how Vieira lives? On the whole, no— it doesn’t actually matter.

    In another way, yes—it actually does.

    Vieira is 60 years old. When she is profiled, she is often (accurately) described as an Emmy-winning journalist who has worked on major TV programs like 60 Minutes and Today.

    That said, what kind of journalism are we likely to get from the people who live in The Houses of Journalist County?"

    What kind of journalism from Meredith Vieira has Bob ever examined while advancing basic ideas for years at this site?

    Outside of this series she has been mentioned three times. Twice because her name was in statements being made by others which were included in posts by BOB while criticizing someone else. The third time she was mentioned because she introduced a segment covered by another reporter BOB has taken some pains to spare from his usual thoughtful probing and prose---Jenna Bush Hager.

    You remember Jenna Bush? "Remember when we would get our jollies smutting up Jenna Bush?...On the whole no---Dowd started by retro-sliming Jenna Bush, although without using her name.
    As far as we know, there has been no “similar criticism” of Jenna Bush, which is fine by us."

    BOB did, on that occasion criticize Bush for a "hapless", "fawning" interview. The subject of the interview was the hated Michelle Rhee!