So imagine our delight in the Gallup poll yesterday that shows us just what the average American thinks of all these small-screen personalities who pull off the balancing act of letting us know both what's happening in Iraq and who won this year's ugliest dog contest.
Gallup asked 1,001 Americans over age 18 whether they liked or disliked 17 prominent news personalities. Respondents were also given the option to say they had never heard of the person or had no opinion of them. So how'd they do?
ABC's Diane Sawyer was the most liked, with 80% saying they viewed her favorably. Right behind her was Mark Cuban's newest HDTV star Dan Rather, whom CBS showed the door earlier this year, with 70%. CBS's new anchor Katie Couric was the fifth-most-liked personality, coming in behind Diane, Dan, Barbara Walters and Regis Philbin.
NBC's promotion department better get busy. Katie's replacement over at NBC's "Today," Meredith Vieira, was liked by 38% of respondents, but 44% said they had never heard of her. NBC's "Nightly News with Brian Williams," anchored by, er, um, Brian Williams, should maybe up those local news promos, since 38% of respondents said they had never heard of him, either. (Of those who did know him, 47% like him, so once the rest figure out who he is, he seems pretty golden.)
Who was disliked by the most people? "The View's" newest co-host Rosie O'Donnell: 60% of respondents said they held an unfavorable view of her, which beats the 45% who dislike Star Jones Reynolds. (But to be fair, 24% said they had never heard of Star, so maybe if they had, she would have been just as disliked as Rosie.)
But as Gallup notes, liking or disliking a news personality is not a perfect measure of how that person will perform in the ratings, given that "Americans sometimes like to watch an individual on television whom they profess to dislike." Surely that explains the longevity of Geraldo Rivera, disliked by 56% of those polled.