(This piece has appeared in Cynic Magazine.)
rom the AP newswire: Cleavage breaks out in news rooms across the United States.
Both local and national news centers around the U. S. have reported a growing number of female news readers leaving untraditionally spacious regions of their blouses open while delivering the news. The result has been either "shadow cleavage" for those less bold, and, in a few cases, downright décolletage.
According to a source deep inside the industry, news programmers are frantically searching for a reason to explain the sudden upsurge in news cleavage. "They just can't explain it," noted the source, who asked to be identified only as Playtex. "It's driving everyone crazy. 'How could something like this happen right under our noses?' That's what they're saying."
Rumors have surfaced that cleavage is filling the gap left by the exodus of traditional news content such as facts and investigative reports. Industry executives balk at the rumors as just so much "news warfare." Snapped one NBC top executive, "People who don't have cleavage are just jealous that we've got so much of it lying around without even looking for it." The executive, who asked to be identified only as Victoria's Secret added, "These whiners would substitute cleavage for the old news format any day. But we're above that sort of pandering, so there."
Newsroom programmers in several interior states were some of the first to think outside the cup. One newsgroup enlisted the services of a fashion buyer to provide additional perspective on the troubling trend.
Ted Miller, Assistant Programmer for a Cincinnati CBS affiliate said he learned "the hard way" that many blouses manufactured after 2002 "had no actual buttons to button until you got down to the, you know." Holding up a blouse donated by the fashion buyer, he plunged his hand into the gaping, buttonless space between the garment's lapels. "Nothing's stopping my hand, right? So how's this going to look on television? I don't think I have to tell you. Geese, Louise, where are the buttons?"
Atypically, historians are in complete accord when it comes to explaining the origins of news cleavage that fashion trends alone cannot account for. Unanimously, they blame it on CNN.
"Back in the early days of CNN, women actually had to button up their blouses before sitting down at the news desk," explained Reynolds Cleveland, broadcasting historian known affectionately to his colleagues as "Le Bustier."
Once derided by the major networks as Ted Turner's "Chicken Noodle News," CNN's Atlanta headquarters coined its own private acronym for the fledgling station: "Chickie Num-Nums." Others claim it was "Chickie kNock-kNocks," and still others insist that it was "Chicks really like to parade arouNd iN the buff up top."
"Being of Southern extraction, these 'belles' of CNN were expected, as it was considered then, to build up morale in the trenches with a little brisket. Until recently, I would have said that we now find that sort of thing quite offensive. However, apparently now we're sort of liking it again. Only time will tell. I say that because I'm a historian. Or is it 'an' historian? That's always a tough one."
As one might predict, young female interns are taking the how-to-dress cue from their barely-there mentors in the nation's news rooms. Wearing only button-challenged blouses manufactured well after fashion's notorious 2002 button purge, these undraped news readers are well on their way to changing how the news is presented forever.
"Unless fashion gives us back our buttons, I'm afraid we're in for a very busty ride," lamented veteran journalist Barbara Walters, who takes pride in "holding onto my 'vintage' blouse collection," which sports not only buttons, but matching button holes.
Continued an exasperated Ms. Walters, "I've spent much of my career trying to establish credibility for women in journalism, and it's all been wiped out by fashion's button despotism. And CNN's long-standing back-room tradition of cleavage doesn't help. Put these two forces together and you've got, well all this!" Ms. Walters angrily tore open her blouse, whereupon 20th-century buttons flew wildly across the room as her never-before-televised cleavage emerged from its demure hiding place.
Responding to Ms. Walters' assessment, Tawny Bree of CNN's jiggling Internet team mulled, "Well, first off, what the Walter lady said about fashion being in a state of 'desperatism' simply is not true. No disrespect to the elderly. I'm sure in her day buttons were important to society, eccetera. But I just don't think there's anything wrong with trying to look nice while I have to inform my viewers about the dark side of YouTube, that it shows people how to break into your house. 'Take a little sweet with the sour,' isn't that what ladies like Ms. Walter used to say in the olden days? Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to powder my boobs. I'm on air in five."
© 2007 Kate Heidel