Some people fawn over actors. Others athletes. I, rather, drool over a man who can get me some news. God, I love a fellow in a suit and tie talking about the White House. Or a guy in combat boots and a bulletproof vest trolling the streets of Baghdad. Behind a desk. Jumping into rooms shouting, "Mike Wallace! 60 Minutes," causing everyone to scatter. I love Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather. I will never get tired of NBC's Brian "The Stiff" Williams. I love them all. Of course I'm biased. I am a journalist, so I'm partial to the sort of fellow who knows his Istanbuls from his Constantinoples. Plus journalists tend to be a pretty well-read bunch who can talk about almost anything at length and I'm a chatty nerd lover. Package that brain in a pretty body, and I'll covet it with the quickness.
For a long time my favorite journalist on television was Ed Bradley. I'm a "60 Minutes" junkie and I've had a special affinity for him since I went through that phase where I would listen to Jazz at the Lincoln Center on NPR, which he narrated, and dose off dreaming about me, Ed and a Golden Retriever having a nice day at a beach carnival or bazaar shopping for tchotskies and talking about the historical significance of Jazz music on American culture. He'd tell me about that time he got blown up while covering the Vietnam War. And we'd walk hand in hand. It ranks pretty high up on best dreams I've ever had. That one was number# 2. Number #1 is a 2005 dream of me ballroom dancing with Johnny Depp.
So, in honor of a man who was as good with his news as he was good looking, I've created the Ed Bradley Award for Journalistic Hotness.
I've done a lot of searching and watched a lot of news. Hands down, CBS and CNN have the best looking male talent, followed by NBC with ABC and FOX not even making the list. All opinion on hotness is based on my personal tastes, news reading ability and looks. Don't know what they're like in private, don't care.
So with that out of the way, here are this years recipients of the BlackSnob Ed Bradley Award for Journalistic Hotness, celebrating men who give good news, ranked in order of their amazing hotness.
The Thin Man
10. Jason Carroll (CNN): Jason would be higher on this list if he'd gain, like, 15 pounds. He is way too thin. Every time I see him on CNN reporting in the snow or extreme heat I'm afraid that he's going to pass out. But his high cheek bones mixed with his bare-bones delivery shows some promise as a TV newsman.
9. Chris Lawrence (CNN): A regular reporter on CNN, Lawrence covers any and everything and always looks friendly and ready to go. With a little pep in his step, he comes off as reliable and trustworthy. And he's kind of cute, which of course, doesn't hurt. Just look at those chubby checks! I want to pinch them.
8. Lester Holt (NBC/Today Show): Lester has a charming, inoffensive kind of hotness that's good anytime you have a craving for some decently done news. He's a professional and manages to be a more polished and less irritating version of Bryant Gumble.
Chipmunk Cheeked Charmer
7. Russ Mitchell (CBS/The Early Show): I first fell for Russ when he was a reporter on Channel 4 News in St. Louis. I think was in elementary or junior high school when he was promoted up to the majors at CBS News in New York. Along with reporting, Russ took over Ed Bradley's job of hosting the weekend news. I've always loved Russ' warm, but direct style of anchoring. He's a charmer with chipmunk cheeks. He's also on the CBS' morning show.
Scotty the Magna Cum Hottie
6. Scott Pelley (CBS/60 Minutes): I've always enjoyed Scott Pelley's reporting style, but I didn't notice his fierceness until he filled in for Katie Couric one day. He sat at that desk and opened the news with things, ever-so-slightly eschew. He looked down, then cocked an eyebrow at the camera, looking America in the eye as he ripped off his eyeglasses suddenly then read the news with such ferocity that it turned into one of the best dramatic news reading I'd heard in years. I can't even remember what the news was that day, but I remembered the dash and daring do of his anchoring. When he spoke with such earnestness and urgency in a ridiculous Ron Burgundy way I thought, "Gunga Dan? Have you returned to me?" Man, that was so hot I almost needed a cigarette afterwards and I don't even smoke. He was like a thunderbolt from news heaven. I love a guy who treats news reading like grand theater. A guy who straight makes love to the news. This was much better than watching him look like an ass in his interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad where there was little substance in what should have been an amazing news "get." But Scotty redeemed himself on other stories were he was hot. Like walking around burning embers and falling trees in the forever burning American west, or trying to out-grey, fellow grey-headed eco action man Anderson Cooper by hanging out at the bottom of the world looking for global warming. Manly nerds. God bless 'em.
The Best Man
5. Don Lemon (CNN/News Room): His last name maybe lemon, but from the way he reads the news all I can taste is sweetness. He's my Sugar Ray Leonard of cable TV news. While not as attractive as his beyond amazing, ranked #1 CNN co-worker, Lemon possesses talent for that sweet science of professional teleprompter reading. He can read the news and ad lib on the fly with the best of them. But he's not as personable or as "crazy" as most of the reporters I love. He doesn't go freeze his ass off in Antarctica. He's managed to only tip-toe around the journalistic rim of danger. If Scott Pelley is a news guy you date, reliable yet smooth Don is the kind of news guy you marry.
4. Anderson Cooper (CNN/AC 360): Whether Anderson is in a jungle, in Iraq, wading through the floodwaters of New Orleans or in the newsroom, despite all the tight black T-shirts in the world, he's still the prettiest man in TV news. I don't know yet if he's a truly skilled interviewer or not. I've watched a lot of 360 and his appearances on "60 Minutes" and his body of work is a little choppy. From the ten-thousand presidential debates CNN has had so far all I can tell is that he's a better than Wolf Blitzer who is a crap sandwich, but not by much. Anderson does other things well. He's a lot more comfortable with humor and taking risks in an effort to redefine the anchor role. And I do enjoy the sometimes castrating conversations he has with Headline News' Erica Hill when talking about the more frivolous news of the day. So Andy's charming and affable. Endearing even. He has lovely blue eyes and greatest prematurely gray hair on television. And despite my ribbing, he does fill out a tight black t-shirt nicely. Plus, he's ambitious. His Katrina coverage was admirable and I enjoy the various environmental and social justice stories he's done. If he could tighten up that news interviewing belt a bit more, he might be higher on the list.
Win One For The "Glibster"
3. Matt Lauer (NBC/The Today Show): First off, when I searched for a picture of Matt this one was one of first ones that popped up, honest to God. I would have gone with a more normal one, but look at him! He's delicious and hairy ... not that I'm into that sort of thing. In the past when I thought of manly newsman I normally didn't think of NBC's Matt Lauer who usually looks bookish. He gives good news through his brainy, sharp wit and calm control. But then, oh then, came that time he was in Torino, Italy for the 2006 Winter Olympics. He flew down a zip line over the mountains, stopping in the middle to hang hundreds of feet above the ground. As he gave his report, dangling in the air, Today Show co-anchor Katie Couric remarked that this was the manliest she'd ever seen Matt look. And it was. I've been gaga for him ever since. Matt is a cracker jack guy in an interview. Like that nightmare of an interview with Tom Cruise, where Cruise went nuts and called Matt "glib". He even was decent during that train wreck, gum-smacking interview with Britney Spears. I know that had to be hard for a newsy guy like Matt. He shouldn't be talking to celebrities. He should be "Where in the World Is Matt Lauer?" not Barbara Walters. I don't watch the Today Show as much as I used to (which is weird as I love both Matt and Anne Curry.) So I'm not getting my Matt fix like I used to. But he's gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous.
2. Tiki Barber (NBC/Football Night in America/The Today Show): Ex-jock intellectual Tiki Barber is one of the most gorgeous ballers to be found and he's in the minority of ex-NFL players who don't sound like Ol' Mush Mouth or illiterate fourth graders. Tiki is a smooth guy who blends in well on the Today Show and was among the few watchable people on NBC's Football Night in America, with Keith Olbermann and Bob Costas canceling each other out with their inner dull sports nerd. Barber, on the other hand, is so polished he's chrome. And unlike the Scott Pelleys and Don Lemons of the media world, Barber is drenched in raw sex appeal. And he's wearing a suit. While reading the news. He's straight Mary Tyler Moore, turning on the world with that smile. It's like the unintentional laughter he got when he went on The Daily Show to talk about his book and Jon Stewart remarked that he should be bigger, teasing Tiki's about his former football physique and Tiki remarked that he was "bigger where it counts." I don't think he meant to say things that way, but from the hoots and hollers in the audience everyone had a mind just as dirty as my own. But that's Tiki Barber, second sexiest man on television. King of the literate ex-jocks on TV who can conjugate a verb. If other jocks are Hershey's, Tiki is Godiva.
And #1 is ...
LL Cool TJ
1. TJ Holmes (CNN/News Room/News Desk): Have you ever seen someone be so sexy while reading the news it makes start catching feelings? Have you stayed in on the weekends just to hear a newscaster talk, just to see him smile? Did you know someone could be so smooth, so smart, so cool? TJ Holmes is cool. He's Ed Bradley cool. He hasn't done as much as Ed and isn't as well traveled, but Holmes is on the come up. He is a news man with brilliant potential. He's also the most gorgeous in a line up of gorgeous black men that CNN offers. When he and co-anchor Kyra Phillips trade barbs, or when he talks sweet to Susan Lisovicz over stock prices the chemistry is popping. Not because something is going on, but because Holmes is that smooth. He can make you believe that he could talk anything and anyone into sexy submission. Now while I have more or less a crush on all the men listed above, Holmes is the only one who I fantasize about getting whisked away in too hot journalist love heaven. Where we discuss politics and what to name our children. It's that deep. I love TJ. But I'd like to see him branch out more. Experiment a little. One can't rely on hotness alone to keep their number #1 Ed Bradley Award spot. Meant to be filled with hot men who can work the news, Ed Bradley style, kicking the inverted pyramid and taking names, all while emanating a smooth jazz vibe scored by Wynton Marcellus.
After all, Scott Pelley is one eyeglass rip-off from making a run for hottest news dude in 2009.