Connie Chung Wiki – Connie Chung Biography
- Connie Chung spilled a stock of secrets on ‘The Originals’ podcast this week
- She said working with Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters at ABC News was ‘not unlike what Tonya Harding did to Nancy Kerrigan’
- The 74-year-old, who has been married to talk show host Maury Povich since 1984, also described her flirtatious relationship with David Letterman
- ‘I had this thing for him, and he had a thing for me,’ she said of the comedian
- Yet she recalled how her relationship with future-President Donald Trump soured after he was angered by her line of questioning in a 1990 interview
- She claimed that a ‘childish’ Trump would treat her like she was ‘invisible’ and speak only to her husband when they ran into each other afterward
- Chung also recalled her cameo on the HBO drama The Undoing, revealing how she struck a nerve with star Hugh Grant by telling him to fix his clothing
Famed broadcast journalist Connie Chung gushed about behind-the-scenes drama with several of her former colleagues including Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters in a bombshell new podcast interview.
Among the most striking was her description of working with Sawyer and Walters at ABC, which she said was ‘not unlike what Tonya Harding did to Nancy Kerrigan’.
The 74-year-old, who has been married to talk show host Maury Povich since 1984, also revealed her flirtatious relationship with David Letterman, saying: ‘I had this thing for him, and he had a thing for me.’
Yet admitted the host had a ‘dark’ side and refused her request to stop telling jokes about her attempts to have a child, even after she suffered multiple miscarriages.
Her relationship with future President Donald Trump also soured after he was angered with her line of questioning during a CBS interview in 1990.
Chung said afterward a ‘childish’ Trump would treat her like she was ‘invisible’ when they saw each other at celeb events.
‘When the executive producer of that program told me that we were doing an interview with Trump I asked them “why? … He is unsufferable and I don’t see the purpose,’ Chung said.
‘I sat down and he began to carry on the way he did and I just couldn’t stomach it. I had interviewed politicians in the 70s for 5 years covering Capitol Hill and the White House and the Pentagon and it was very easy to become accustomed to this bloviating behavior and how to combat it so I just went back to my old experience and said exactly what I was thinking at the time which was, ‘are you kidding me?”
‘He wasn’t very happy about it,’ she laughed.
‘So much so that my husband and I would see him at these golf tournaments because he plays a lot of golf … He would say hello to my husband Maury, but he would completely ignore me as if I wasn’t even there, as if I was invisible and it was quite shocking that I suddenly became invisible. He was very childish.’
Chung started her career as a Washington correspondent for CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite in the 1970s before becoming a morning news anchor for NBC news in 1984.
She returned to CBS five years later and joined Dan Rather in anchoring the Evening News – an experience she mentioned in her podcast interview.
Chung described Rather as ‘very Texas gentlemanly’ before comparing their partnership to a 1960 horror film, adding: ‘If I turned my back, I felt like I might be in a scene of Psycho in the shower.’
Chung and Rather parted ways in 1995, after which she moved to ABC News as a reporter for 20/20.
She described it as ‘Schadenfreude’ that he was later fired from the show after her but says losing the job turned out to be a ‘blessing’ because she received a call from her adoption lawyer shortly afterward to say that they could adopt their son Matthew.
‘I think it was meant to be,’ Chung said. She then took two years to stay with her son before she moved on to ABC.
Recounting the transition to podcast host Andrew Goldman, Chung said: ‘When I got to ABC News, I joined with both Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer there and I thought: “Oh, this is going to be great. It’ll be three women who get along.”‘
But things didn’t go as well as she’d hoped.
‘Diane and Barbara were in the same sort of arena of trying to get these big interviews,’ Chung said.
‘So when I tried to go after them, I was told I could not. That Barbara and Diane were the only ones who could compete for the interview and I had to stand down. And I said: “Really?”‘
Chung then appeared to compare Sawyer and Walter’s behavior to that of figure skater Tonya Harding, who was accused of planning an attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan before the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics.
A representative for Walter’s responded to Chung’s comment in a statement to TMZ, saying: ‘Barbara paved the way for every female journalist that came after her. She has been a tremendous supporter for all women.’
Yet Chung claimed that each of the women would try to recruit her to gang up on the other and she was consistently asked to step aside on interviews so that Sawyer or Walters could take them.
Chung had nicer things to say about Letterman, whose show she appeared on multiple times.
‘Off the air, he’s dark,’ she said of the comedian. ‘He’s a dark, unhappy sort of – I don’t mean he’s unhappy. He’s anti-social is what he is.’
Chung acknowledged a chemistry between her and Letterman, calling it ‘inexplicable’.
‘I love people who have a sense of humor and who are charming, and he was that when he was on the air,’ she said.
Yet she did reveal that his dark side also resulted in him refusing her requests to stop making jokes about her attempts to have a baby.
‘It just didn’t work, I had so many miscarriages,’ she said.
‘Everyone else had abandoned the jokes and they thought finally it wasn’t funny anymore. I was a public person I understand you can take pot shots at anybody that’s out there and I made an announcement, it was a free for all, I’m not going to cry about it
‘But when it went into three years or fours years and Dave was still doing jokes about it, I went into his office and at another time I wrote him a nice note saying “can you just stop with the jokes?”
‘And he wouldn’t do it, he just continued with the jokes,’ she claimed.
‘The difference was very clear when Jay Leno called me one time .. he called me said “I was thinking about doing a joke about you wanting to have a baby, would that be okay?” and I paused and I said, “yeah sure go ahead” and he said, “I heard you pause, I won’t do it”.’
In more recent news, Chung lifted the lid on her cameo on the HBO drama The Undoing, revealing an unpleasant interaction with lead actor Hugh Grant.
‘He was not very friendly,’ Chung said of Grant.
‘I had interviewed him right after “Four Weddings and a Funeral” for his next movie. So w
hen I saw him I said: “Oh hi. I interviewed you … do you remember?” And he said: “No.”‘
Chung said she struck a nerve with Grant and the director, Susanne Bier, when she tried to give the actor advice on set.
‘When Hugh Grant sat down, he was looking all rumpled. He’s one of those British rumpled fellows,’ she said. ‘His tie was askew, and I am very OCD. So I said: “Hugh, straighten up your tie.” And he goes and fixes it.
‘And then one collar was outside of his suit. And I went: “Hugh, fix that.” And then he was looking like Rodney Dangerfield. He should sit on the back of – like in ‘Broadcast News’ – sit on the back of your jacket, so that it’s nice and tidy.’
Chung said she was about to give Grant another tip when he snapped: ‘Now what?’ – as Bier gave her ‘an evil eye’.
On her infamous CBS interview with Donald Trump in 1990:
When the executive producer of that program told me that we were doing an interview with Trump I asked them ‘why?’.
I was the only correspondent on that particular show and I was also the anchor so I had to do all the stories. I had to fill an hour every week so he said ‘look we’ve got to fill the hour and this producer got the interview so please just do it, it’s easy, it’s right in New York, and I said, ‘I don’t see why, he is unsufferable and I don’t see the purpose’.
I reluctantly did it because we had space, we had to fill air. I sat down and he began to carry on the way he did and I just couldn’t stomach it. I had interviewed politicians in the 70s for 5 years covering Capitol Hill and the White House and the Pentagon and it was very easy to become accustomed to this bloviating behavior and how to combat it so I just went back to my old experience and said exactly what I was thinking at the time which was ‘are you kidding me?’
He wasn’t very happy about it, so much so that my husband and I would see him at these golf tournaments because he plays a lot of golf and he would play in these ‘celebrity golf tournaments’ we would see him at the pre-cocktail party or whatever.
He would say hello to my husband Maury, but he would completely ignore me as if I wasn’t even there, as if I was invisible and it was quite shocking that I suddenly became invisible. He was very childish.
I probably sent him roses because we wanted to do a follow up because the very next day his divorce with Ivana was announced and during our interview, he was saying she was his best friend.
On questioning Trump about having a best friend:
You know how sometimes you can tell when people are not telling the truth and television doesn’t lie. The charm of television is that you can look at the person’s face and I think you can pass judgment when Henry Kissinger said peace is at hand, I think everyone looked at him and went really, is peace really at hand I mean the end of the war close it was not
Television doesn’t lie, the truth eventually emerges
On her thoughts on Trump’s presidency:
My husband would, anytime I would want to cast ill on him in some way or another or say something untoward … my husband has this … he’s so proper for someone who does a crazy talk show, he has this crazy level of propriety when it comes to anything I do or say.
His mantra is ‘yes, but you have a reputation to uphold.’
On joining Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer at ABC:
Oh, this is going to be great. It’ll be three women who get along. I was so naive and stupid.
I was always playing a game of whack a mole. I would pop by head up and one of them would have a hammer – ‘whack’ – and put me down back in my hole.
It’s not unlike what Tonya Harding did to Nancy Kerrigan.
[W]hen I got to ABC, both Diane and Barbara were in the same sort of arena of trying to get these big interviews. So, when I tried to go after them, I was told I could not. That Barbara and Diane were the only ones who could compete for the interview and I had to stand down. And I said, ‘Really?’
The one that was worked ultimately in my favor was Gary Condit a congressman who was accused of having an affair with a woman called Chandra Levy who was an intern in D.C. she was found dead.
I was told I could not, that this time it was Barbara who they decided [would get the interview] they would bounce back and forth between Barbara and Diane about who would get the interview and I was always out of the ball game. I was taken to lunch by a VP who said you cannot pursue this; we know you had already made some calls, but you must stand down.
I asked, ‘what happens if they call me and say you got it’ and they said, ‘we’ll deal with that if it happens’. And it did, the lawyer called me and said it’s between you and another news organization and I said but you know Barbara is supposed to do it, and they said we’re not doing it unless it’s you.
It was more a case of each one recruiting me to try to get me two on one.
On David Letterman:
I had this thing for him, and he had a thing for me, and I really think it was inexplicable in that respect, and yet I really didn’t have a thing for him. Do you know what I mean?
I love people who have a sense of humor and who are charming, and he was that when he was on the air but off the air, he is dark. He’s a dark unhappy, not unhappy he’s a kvetch. He’s a goyishe kvetch.
He’s anti-social is what he is.
I would say, ‘Do you want to go out for pizza sometime?’ And he’d say, ‘Maybe,’ and I’d say, ‘I’ll bring Maury.’ And he’d say, ‘No.’
Off camera, I said why don’t we get together, and his answer was only if Maury wasn’t coming to.
I think one time I asked him to not do any more jokes about my having a baby. My husband said, ‘I know you want to have a baby’ and I said, ‘no, I’ve got a convention to cover, I’ve got an election to cover’ and he said, ‘you’re going to be 40 in seconds and if we don’t do something about that now you’re not going to be able to have a baby’.
We proceeded to go through the process if you will and … it just didn’t work, I had so many miscarriages.
Everyone else had abandoned the jokes and they thought finally it wasn’t funny anymore. I was a public person, I understand you can take pot shots at anybody that’s out there and I made an announcement, it was a free for all. I’m not going to cry about it so when it went into three years or four years and Dave was still doing jokes about it, I went into his office and at another time I wrote him a nice note saying ‘can you just stop with the jokes’.
He wouldn’t do it, he just continued with the jokes and the difference was very clear when Jay Leno called me one time .. he called me and said ‘I was thinking about doing a joke about you wanting to have a baby, would that be okay?’ and I paused and I said, ‘yeah sure go ahead’ and he said, ‘I heard you pause I won’t do it’.
On Dan Rather at CBS:
For being such a wizened old new person, even today, there’s this incredible naivety about me. [On joining CBS with Rather.]
He is a Texas friendly kind of guy; you know how Linden Johnson used to get nose to nose with people and go ‘how are you?’ Dan Rather is that way. Everything is Texas gentlemanly, everything is ‘just fine how are you?’ and ‘you’re looking very good today’.
If I turned my back, I felt like I might be in a scene of Psycho in the shower.
I can give you an example. I think when the OJ Simpson thing came up and they said you must go; I think Dan Rather was going to Haiti for an interview with the leader Cedra Aand I wanted to go to Haiti to do an interview with … I thought it would be a great one-toe punch, we would both be doing interviews regarding an international incident.
That’s when I’m pretty sure they insisted I did an OJ Simpson interview and I really do regret doing so many tabloid stories under duress because frankly when they wanted me to cover the Tonya Harding it was because CBS was carrying the Olympics and it was because they wanted to build up the story and they wanted to build up this good girl bad girl fairytale.
[On Rather being fired after her] Schadenfreude? … that’s I think would but it in a nutshell.
One time I saw him on a train going to Washington … he asked me to come over to talk to him in a seat near him and he said, ‘I just wanted to clear up what happened afterward I just want you to know that I don’t hold anything against you for whatever occurred after you left’. It was quite peculiar frankly and I said ‘ok’.
On appearing in The Undoing with Hugh Grant:
He was not very friendly
I had interviewed him right after ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ for his next movie. So, when I saw him, I said: ‘Oh hi, I interviewed you … do you remember?’ And he said: ‘No.’
When he was getting into his zone I could only presume, he put his head back in his chair for a long time, a long time.
I figured he was getting into his acting zone whatever that is.
When Hugh Grant sat down, he was looking all rumpled. He’s one of those British rumpled fellows. And his tie was askew, and I am very OCD. So, I said, ‘Hugh, straighten up your tie.’ And he goes and fixes it. And then one collar was outside of his suit. And I went, ‘Hugh, fix that.’ And then he was looking like Rodney Dangerfield. He should sit on the back of—like in Broadcast News—sit on the back of your jacket, so that it’s nice and tidy.
On The Undoing:
It was a whole new experience for me, I was asked by this wonderful casting director who’s done a friend of mine Vicki Gordon.
Asking Hugh Grant questions with the presence of his lawyer there, I didn’t think that it sounded like me and the questions were written by David E Kelly and his writing partner Matthew Tinker, who happens to be the grandson of Grant Tinker, so I asked them can I change the words a little so it sounds more like me.
Matthew Tinker got back to me and said David’s fine with it, and I was blown away. I’m rewriting David E. Kelly are you kidding me?
So I show up at the shoot and the director looked at me and said, ‘what happened to the other script’ and I said, ‘David E. Kelly let me rewrite it’ and she said, ‘oh no we’re going back to the original’ and I though oh s**t.
When you do an interview you just listen to what the person says you have a list of questions but you go with the flow but I thought, ‘oh god I have to memorize new lines that don’t sound like me’.
[On her scenes being cut] I look so old and so dreadful that the director decided to save me from myself.
On her husband Maury Povich:
He always said that he was Mr. Chung … he was along for the ride for a long time. He was always boosting me. I can honestly tell you that I would not have survived my career ups and downs if it wasn’t for him.
I would come home, and he would interpret some of the things that a boss would do to me that he thought was a typical male mind-fing. He’d go, ‘god Connie he’s mind-fing you’. I had this incredible ability to be naive despite being an old hand and a rough talker … yet I wouldn’t quite get it.
Two years earlier, we started the process of trying to adopt a baby, here I was I had lost my dream job on a Friday night [at CBS] … got a call from our adoption lawyer.
It was blessing to end up free and be able to look after our son, he was less than a day old, he was in our arms within a week … I think it was meant to be.
I can’t believe how many things he [Maury] didn’t know how to do … vacuuming … he was doing it like he was mowing a lawn. He knows how to make spaghetti
He’s done well. His parents never thought that he would survive his teenage years and support himself. I think his father eventually said I think you’re going to be ok.
I said this to him a million times. He’s extremely well read, he’s a history buff, a political buff, he knows so much and he’s extremely thoughtful and yet I said, ‘you could do an intellectual talk show and run circles around some of the dodos out there … You could do such a good interview program because you’re smart’ and he said, ‘as long as you know that, I’m fine’.