Paula Zahn may have no longer been the same as she was almost two decades ago. But back in the day, she was considered “just a little bit sexy” to be a news anchor on television.
These days, Zahn is often busy with hosting her On the Case with Paula Zahn documentary series. It’s been going on for over a decade, if you’re still wondering what she’s up to these days. Yes, she’s come a long way since her breakthrough from ABC News in 1987. Zahn moved on from ABC to CBS News with a job she could not refuse in 1990.
After almost a decade with CBS, she worked for two years with Fox News Channel from 1999 to 2001. Then, the job of her life came with CNN in 2011, covering the 9/11 incident on the first day of her job. Then 45-year-old, Paula Zahn was compared when there was a flurry of talks about news people, men or women, opting for plastic surgery to be appealing when delivering the news.
Paula Zahn Was Furious When CNN’s Promotions Department Launched an Ad That Questioned Her Credibility
In early January 2002, CNN’s promotions department ran a promo ad over the weekend that described the morning newscaster as “just a little sexy”. While the promotion department just aired the ad, even the CNN Chairman/CEO had no idea such an ad was even being passed on to air. Of course, Zahn was also furious at her image being painted the way it did.
Watch: The Ad That Wasn’t Supposed to Air
Walter Isaacson, the CEO at the time, called the promo “a major blunder by the aforementioned department as it was “never seen or approved by anyone outside our promotions department” before being telecasted.
A CNN rep told the Washington Post that Isaacson, Jamie Kellner (the chairman of CNN parent Turner Broadcasting) and Zahn each called the network independently to pull the ad.
“I had no knowledge of the promo until it aired; when I saw it, I was offended,” Zahn gave her statement on the issue. The 15-second ad was played about 10 times before it was pulled.
What was in the ad? According to the Washington Post, “A voice asks, ‘Where can you find a morning news anchor who’s provocative, super-smart, oh yeah, and just a little sexy?’ as the words ‘provocative’ and ‘sexy’ are flashed on the screen, along with quick shots of Zahn’s profile and Zahn’s lips.”
There were a lot of reminders from her Fox days as she was fired when the CNN deal was learned in the FNC department. And another big issue was when a sound of “a zipper being unzipped” could be heard. And it meant something else at CNN.
That Thing Caused Discussions That Many News Anchors Opted for Plastic Operations
Why did that all matter in the current discussion of plastic surgery on Paula Zahn? That was the trigger that fired discussions of focus news anchors had on looking better rather than on presenting the news itself.
An LA Times column in February 2002 titled, Face It: Sex Sells TV News Too, wrote, “All the attention paid recently to Greta Van Susteren‘s eyes and Paula Zahn’s sex appeal is a depressing reminder of how often journalism comes second to appearance on television news.”
Discussions of presenters opening up about going under the knife in the past were brought into light as 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl conceded men have it tougher in this case. Geraldo Rivera, for example, did plastic surgery twice, once injecting fat into his forehead and the second time getting an eye job.
Speaking of which, Greta Van Susteren was often compared to Zahn at the time after getting cosmetic eye surgery, making her look unrecognizable afterward. At the time in February 2002, People wrote, “In the days before her debut, Van Susteren’s raised eyelids, raised eyebrows, thanks to a buzz-building promo in which she looked more like CNN’s Paula Zahn than her former no-frills self.”
So, Did Zahn Opt for Plastic Surgery As Well?
While the discussions of Paula Zahn’s sex appeal and others’ plastic surgery back then took the headlines, there was no question about whether Zahn herself had gone under the knife. And so far, she’s always been discussed as an original at that department.
However, she has, at various times, discussed plastic surgery as part of her news coverage with surgeons doctors in her piece. She continued to work for CNN until 2009 and has worked for WNET and PBS since, with her biggest project to date being with Investigation Discovery, On the Case with Paula Zahn.
And did you know Zahn featured in a couple of episodes of Murphy Brown in the ’90s?
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