Inauspicious Start?

CHALK it up to excitement. Or attribute it to the slightly show-biz nature of multimillion-dollar television anchor jobs. Whatever the reason, a few odd moments occurred this week when CBS staged a press conference to announce Connie Chung's appointment as Dan Rather's co-anchor on the evening news.

There was Mr. Rather, planting a firm congratulatory kiss on Ms. Chung's cheek. After praising her skills as a network correspondent and as a "big-time anchor talent," he said, "Connie is Miss Congeniality. She could win a Miss Congeniality contest in any language on any continent."

Why does this seem more like Bert Parks congratulating a newly-crowned Miss America than a respected television anchor welcoming a new colleague? If the roles were reversed, would a woman describe a man as "Mr. Congeniality"?

For her part, Chung, the wife of TV talk-show host Maury Povich, explained that she and Rather have worked together since the 1970s. "It's like having a husband at home and a husband at work," she said.

As for that kiss, Miss Manners would not have approved. Earlier this month she called the social kiss "a silly, affected, complicated substitute for an excellent gesture - the simple, warm, and frank handshake."

Sandra Day O'Connor was not publicly welcomed to the Supreme Court by a kiss, nor will women be admitted to combat with a huggy-hug.

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