And in tonight’s top story, which anchor is bad at their job?

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And watching all the hosts of The Morning Show backstab each other to try and keep their anchor chairs made me wonder: “Who is the best fictional news anchor of all time?”

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Bradley Jackson may have no answer to that, but I do!

So I, in good BuzzFeed fashion, did a ranking of notable fictional news anchors by how good they are at their jobs.

Apple TV+ / Via giphy.com

A couple of ground rules. 1) Only FICTIONAL news anchors qualified, so if the movie/TV show was based on a true story (like The Insider or Bombshell where actors play real people) they didn’t make the cut; 2) I only included on-air talent, so all of the producers/cameramen don’t count (thats why Nightcrawler‘s Lou Bloom isn’t on the list.); 3) This is for newscasters only and not journalists in general, so magazine editors/newspaper reporters/podcasters/radio DJs are not represented here; 4) For whatever reason sportscasters in movies are almost always either cameos of real sportscasters or are radio announcers/commentators, so sadly there aren’t many to be found here. (I wish I could have included Ranch Wilder.)

Regarding ranking criteria, I tried to factor in only things that are directly related to job performance, so if they have an affair outside of work, that wouldn’t factor in. However, behind-the-camera workplace behavior also plays a part here because they’re still on the job. I also gave points for degree of difficulty. If their job is HARD and they are still excellent, then they are ranked higher on the list. 

Are you ready to see where your favorite ranks?

35. Diane Simmons – Family Guy

Fox

At the start she seemed like a perfectly fine news anchor (at least on camera where she delivered the news competently.) But then she revealed herself to be racist while on a hot mic (an easily fireable offense.)  And then she started dating James Woods (who we have learned is just a generally odious character.) And then she proceeded to murder five people and try to blame it on her ex-co-anchor. So she’s maybe good at reading a teleprompter, but certainly not a great colleague to have.

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34. Herb Welch – Saturday Night Live

NBC

Bill Hader’s veteran reporter from New York (whose 71 years at the station make him at least 90-years-old) is about as bad as you can get. In the hysterical series of SNL sketches, he’s unprepared, doesn’t ask relevant questions, spews out racist insults, and constantly hits people in the face with his microphone (the depth perception is not there.) He also feels up interviewees and fakes his own death regularly to get more screen time. For shame to the network for keeping him on air. Two faked deaths, shame on me. Three faked deaths, shame on you. 

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33. Ron Burgundy – Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Dreamworks/Courtesy Everett Collection

Yikes. Yikes. Yikes. Where do we even begin? How he threatens to punch his female co-anchor in the ovaries? How he tells her to “go back to her home on whore island?” How he walks around the studio with a full on erection? And even if you put aside the bevy of HR complaints racked up against him, there’s also the fact that he will read absolutely anything that appears on the teleprompter including, “Go f**k yourself, San Diego.” He’s a menace behind the camera and inadequate in front of it. Really not bringing a lot of redeemable traits to the table here as a newscaster.

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32. Mitch Kessler – The Morning Show

Apple TV+/Courtesy Everett Collection

For all intents and purposes, it does seem that Steve Carell’s Mitch Kessler was good at his job. He was the host of the highest-rated morning show for 15 years. He was funny, and charming, and delivered the news. He was America’s dad. The only wrinkle is that America’s dad was using his position of power to force himself on half of the female TMS staff. So that kinda detracts from whatever skills he has as a journalist because he was making his co-anchors and co-workers uncomfortable. AND he doesn’t really think he did anything wrong. So yeah. Fine newscaster but bad boss and those things are very attached here. 

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31. Howard Beale – Network

United Artists/Courtesy Everett Collection

Okay, we got another one of these “good at his job until he wasn’t” situations. Howard Beale (Peter Finch) was a newscaster for 25 years. He had the nightly news gig so clearly he was talented and popular. But then he seems to have encountered a bit of a psychotic break that has turned him from reputable vessel of the news to prophetic vessel of the lord. He wanders around town in his underwear, shows up on set screaming in a drenched trench coat, and claims he’s going to kill himself on air. He’s “mad as hell and he isn’t going to take it anymore,” but I think a demure retirement dinner might have been the way to go. And since most of Network is about Beale losing his marbles, I got to rank him low. 

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30. Bradley Jackson – The Morning Show

Apple TV+/Courtesy Everett Collection

Oh Bradley. She wants so desperately to be a “truth teller” that sometimes she ends up being an unhinged newscaster. Such as the time she shakes down a bystander, screaming about coal while she’s on assignment. Or when she announces she’s had an abortion, unprompted on The Morning Show. Or when she decided it would be a good idea to bring disgraced sexual harasser Mitch Kessler on air for an interview. While Bradley brings some much-needed pep to The Morning Show, she’s been fired from numerous jobs previously and with a nickname like “Two F*cks Jackson” for dropping the f-bomb twice in a row on air, she seems like a potentially costly addition to your network given the FCC fines she’s bound to rack up. 

Watch it now on Apple TV+

29. Bruce Nolan – Bruce Almighty

Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

And while we’re talking about FCC fines, here is Jim Carrey’s Bruce Nolan, who after being passed over for an anchor job, goes on a rampage on a Niagara Falls tour boat, insulting passengers and also spewing obscenities. Unlike Bradley Jackson, this seems to be a first offense for Bruce in years of great work, but a newscaster has to keep their cool, and he certainly did not. 

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28. Perd Hapley – Parks and Recreation

Danny Feld / NBC/Courtesy Everett Collection

If there was an award for nailing the newscaster cadence it would go to Perd (Jay Jackson), Pawnee’s favorite reporter. However aside from nailing the voice, Perd doesn’t bring much to the table. He states the obvious over and over again and seems to have a very loose grip on what is actually going on. He is the man who had never heard the phrase “putting your foot in your mouth.” He also calls his fans “perdverts.” Don’t love that. 

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27. Ted Baxter – The Mary Tyler Moore Show

CBS/Courtesy Everett Collection

Before there was Perd Hapley, there was Ted Baxter (Ted Knight), another bumbling news anchor seemingly incapable of understanding common phrases and intent on using his newscaster voice at all times. Baxter is arrogant but dumb, constantly screwing things up and reading information incorrectly. And despite his narcissism, he’s also deeply insecure, constantly terrified that he will be fired for his mistakes. Luckily he’s got a strong team to support him, because alone he’d be lost. 

Watch it now on Hulu

26. Tom Grunick – Broadcast News

20th Centry Fox/Courtesy Everett Collection

Tom Grunick (William Hurt) is the third in the trifecta of dumb-but-sounds-good with Perd and Ted. His character on Broadcast News is hired basically only because he’s attractive. He can read the news fine, but he is generally dumb and has to have information fed to him through an earpiece because he knows next to nothing about current events. He’s slightly more competent than Perd and Ted, but he did also fake tears in a piece about rape which is a big no no and goes against journalistic integrity. So yeah. He’s rough. 

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25. Sally Langston – Scandal

ABC

Okay to start there is the tiny fact that then Vice President of the USA Sally Langston (Kate Burton) stabbed her husband to death because he was gay. BUT technically that all happens before she becomes the host of an extreme right-wing news program called The Liberty Report which she launches post losing her presidential bid. Sally runs a heavily skewed gossip show where she primarily is slinging dirt at other characters and trying to rile up trouble. She’s not especially bad, but we’d love a few fact checkers to vet these stories. 

Watch it now on Hulu

24. Mike Pomeroy – Morning Glory

Macall Polay/Paramount Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

As far as hard hitting Cronkite-esque journalists go, Harrison Ford’s Mike Pomeroy seems to be one of the best. However, he has been moved to a fluffy (a word he refuses to say) morning show instead, and his stubbornness is not serving him well. He’s desperate to be pulled from the show (and still paid for his contract), so he is doing the barest of bare minimums. Not the team effort we’re looking for Mike.  

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23. Phil Connors – Groundhog Day

Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Phil Connors (Bill Murray) has gotten a bit big for his britches. He’s a local Pittsburgh weatherman sent to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to cover Groundhogs Day, and he’s having none of it. He’s got contempt for the assignment and the town, and he’s ready to ship out to a new job. Openly showing disdain on the air is not the trait of a great journalist. Sure he learns and grows a bit by reliving the same day over and over and over, but I think you got to judge him based on his total performance here and that is lackluster. 

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22. Tricia Tanaka – Lost

ABC

You can be great at your job without having to be rude. The ill-fated Tricia Tanaka, who will be killed by an asteroid while standing in a chicken restaurant, seems to have missed this memo. She’s on assignment to do a story about a lottery ticket winner who bought Mr. Cluck’s Chicken Shack, but she is NOT happy about it. While she is perky on camera, she quickly pivots to annoyed once the camera is off. She’s not cussing out people on air, but she could be much more professional. 

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21. Charlotte Dennon – Elf

New Line Cinema

Ok Charlotte. It’s coming across a bit like you don’t believe in Santa Claus and that is NOT a good look for you. She’s recently been transferred from Buffalo to NYC and her first story is about a crashed sleigh, but she’s got a lot of disdain for the whole thing. Plus, she doesn’t respond well to having her desire to get engaged exposed to the tri-state area. Look, I’m sure she’s great at her job or whatever, but if you’re going to move to the city that hosts the Rockefeller Christmas Tree and you’re going to refuse to have Christmas spirit, then that’s on you. Be a grinch, but I’m gonna dock you points. 

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20. Avery Jessup – 30 Rock

Ali Goldstein / NBC/Courtesy Everett Collection

Originally a zany financial journalist for CNBC on a show called The Hot Box, Avery Jessup (Elizabeth Banks), while a journalist, is primarily Jack Donaghy’s love interest for a few seasons on 30 Rock. She seems like a perfectly fine newscaster although her questions can be a little too fast to follow along with and she is a little rude to her guests. She is also kidnapped in North Korea and forced to do anti-American propaganda news. Now I know I shouldn’t judge her for that, but there are journalists later on this list with a lot more integrity (and talk at a more understandable pace). 

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19. Bridget Jones – Bridget Jones’s Diary

Miramax/Courtesy Everett Collection

Yes, Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) does get a reporting job in the middle of her agonizing love triangle with Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, but we don’t see her do much actual reporting. She pulls off a perfectly acceptable TV interview regarding a high profile legal case in one scene. In another she proves herself game to climb up and down a fire pole for a shot. That being said, she misses one interview because she’s buying cigarettes and the fire pole entrance is anything but graceful. She does get more poised with experience, but she still seems pretty average as far as this list goes. 

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18. Chet Ubetcha – The Fairly OddParents

Nickelodeon

Chet is your standard news anchor. He’s got a prominent chin, a deep booming voice, and quaffed hair. He mostly shows up on the television whenever the audience needs to corroborate something that Timmy says, although plenty of the time he’s contradicting Timmy as well. All in all, he’s perfectly fine at his job. He’s just a little prone to exaggeration, and doesn’t seem super bright as evidenced by this scene. He’s just okay. 

Watch it now on Paramount+.

17. Aaron Altman – Broadcast News

20th Century Fox/Courtesy Everett Collection

Tom Grunick’s rival and foil, Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks) is not as attractive or anchorly as Tom, but he certainly knows a hell of a lot more and makes a much better journalist. The only issue is that an on-air anchor job is all about poise, something that Aaron doesn’t possess. When he is given the chance to anchor, he sweats so much the whole production becomes a disaster. He is a better newscaster than Tom, simply because he knows what he’s doing, but he will never be great because he fumbles on air. And sadly, on air is the part that actually counts 

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16. Lilly Moscovitz – The Princess Diaries

Buena Vista Pictures

She’d personally like to learn about Voltaire (not hair.) She’s working on a Green Peace petition. And she hosts a cable show called Shut Up and Listen. Lilly Moscovitz (Heather Matarazzo) is an all star. Perhaps her show could use a smidge of polish (she is only in high school), and perhaps the show could use a few less magic tricks, but it’s a good start for a fledgeling journalist. An A+ for effort even if the execution is a little sloppy. 

Watch it now on Disney+

15. Will McAvoy – The Newsroom

HBO

As Aaron Sorkin’s creation, Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) is a professional anchor with a nationally televised show. That definitively gets you some points here in the rankings because it proves you know what you’re doing. However, Will’s two major traits are his inability to ask any questions that might offend on air (and journalism is often about asking the hard questions) while being difficult to work with off air. That’s really a doozy of a combo. We’re looking for someone harsh on the air but lovely in person, not the other way around. He’s also not quite as politically impartial as we’d like our journalists to be. Just the facts ma’am. 

Watch it now on HBO Max

14. Alex Levy – The Morning Show

Apple TV+/Courtesy Everett Collection

Of the anchors to sit in The Morning Show‘s lead chair, Alex Levy is by far the most professional. Even when she has a mild breakdown in the season finale and paces back and forth in front of the camera, she’s not dropping unexpected truth bombs like Bradley or feeling up a PA like Mitch. She’s solid at her job (perhaps a bit too polished at times) and she can push forward even if she’s under pressure. A solid effort that definitely deserves co-anchor approval and an interview with Maggie Brener.

Watch it now on Apple TV+

13. Lanie Kerrigan – Life or Something Like It

20th Century Fox/Courtesy Everett Collection

The Razzie-nominated rom-com starring Angelina Jolie as a bottle blonde newscaster may have received terrible reviews, but that doesn’t affect Lanie Kerrigan’s newscaster prowess. She’s skilled enough to get a job offer to move to NYC from Seattle and is known at her station for extreme professionalism. Even when her death is foretold to her, and she goes off script in an interview with a A-lister, she keeps her composure and provides compelling content. Perhaps a bit uptight and distant, but otherwise an exemplar. 

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12. Robin Scherbatsky – How I Met Your Mother

Monty Brinton / CBS/Courtesy Everett Collection

If there is a word to describe Robin Scherbatsky’s (Cobie Smulders) career as a journalist it would be “solid.” Starting as a puff piece reporter, she rises in the ranks over the series to become a news anchor and eventually talk show host. While she’s often surrounded by zany and incompetent characters, she chugs along, delivering the news and plenty of poorly written puns to the New York metro area. Any local news station would be lucky to have her. 

Watch it now on Hulu

11. April O’Neal – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

New Line Cinema/Courtesy Everett Collection

Cowabunga dude! April O’Neal is the real deal when it comes to on-the-ground guerrilla journalism. She’s the one who first identifies the rise of the Shredder and his Foot Clan in New York City. And then when she’s attacked for speaking the truth, she is rescued and then teams up with the teenage mutant ninja turtles to save the day. She’s not afraid to be caught in a dangerous situation to spread the truth, and she’s more than happy to help out the turtles and buy them pizza. Perhaps she’s getting a bit too close to her subjects, but she’s a scrappy journalist and an ally to the reptile cause. 

Watch it now on HBO Max

10. Colleen Peck – Morning Glory

Macall B. Polay/Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

While Mike may be doing the least, Diane Keaton’s Colleen is certainly game for anything. She put up with a lecherous co-host for years before Rachel McAdams’s Becky fired him, and she’ll do whatever it takes to save the show. She’s doing cooking and fashion segments by herself (since Mike refuses to participate) and is even dressing up like a ballerina. A consummate professional. 

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9. Realistic Fish – Spongebob Squarepants

Nickelodeon

You want to talk about a pro? Look no further than Bikini Bottom News’s number one reporter, Realistic Fish. Not only is he always dressed to the nines in his little fish suit and holding a classic microphone, but he always reports the news at exactly the right moment. He’s not fighting with coworkers or sloughing off. No he is there when you need him, telling the good people of Bikini Bottom the local happenings. ALSO, if you didn’t know he also moonlights as the Spongebob theme song singer for a line. He can report the news and sing an iconic diddy. I think I’m falling in love. 

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8. Murphy Brown – Murphy Brown

Richard Cartwright / CBS/Courtesy Everett Collection

Murphy Brown is here for business. After a brief stint in rehab for her alcoholism, she returns to FYI to investigate and deliver the news. She isn’t soft and fluffy. She’s tough and here to get to the bottom of things. She wouldn’t have smashed countless glass ceilings in her male-dominated profession if she wasn’t ready for a little rough and tumble. She can be a bit cold and brusque at points, which doesn’t always land well, but she knows what she’s doing, which is more than we can say for a lot of the people on this list. 

Watch it now on Paramount+

7. Kimberly Wells – The China Syndrome

Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

We love an investigative reporter. We love a whistleblower. And for whatever reason those roles in films are usually given to print journalists but NOT HERE. Jane Fonda’s Kimberly Wells is a news reporter, usually asked to smile and share easy stories, but when she discovers that a nuclear power plant is in danger of collapsing due to fudged safety reports, they have to dig in and get to the bottom of the truth. Kimberly is doing exactly what she should. She’s giving journalistic excellence and is definitely on the Pulitzer short list. 

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6. Mary Jane Paul – Being Mary Jane

BET/Courtesy Everett Collection

Miss Gabrielle Union is great at cheerleading, breaking into her own house, and delivering the news. Mary Jane Paul (Union) is balancing a very busy (and usually a little messy) personal life with a successful professional life as a news anchor. On the BET show, she rises the ranks at her Atlanta station before ending up at a prestigious NYC show. She’s on top of what she needs to be. She gets the scoop, is professional on camera, knows how to tell a good story, and asks the right questions in an interview. She’s warm, personable, and intelligent. This is the standard we are aiming for. 

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5. Veronica Corningstone – Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Dreamworks/Courtesy Everett Collection

As she says herself, she’s good at three things: fighting, screwing, and reading the news. Christina Applegate’s Veronica Corningstone is here to be a consumate newscaster and she is not about to let a whole studio full of chauvinist pigs stop her. She ducks and dodges their attempts to seduce and belittle her and always gets to the desk looking proper and prepared. She’s working at an insane degree of difficulty, and she’s doing it with polish and flair. “Good evening San Diego. I’m Veronica Corningstone. Tits McGee is on vacation.” Pure genius. Imagine what she could deliver if she didn’t have the mill stone of Channel 4 around her neck. 

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4. Caesar Flickerman – The Hunger Games

Murray Close/Lionsgate/Courtesy Everett Collection

If Oprah and Bob Costas had a baby and he grew up in dystopian version of America known as Panem and died his hair purple, he would be Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci). The television host and teeth-whitening expert is THE voice of the dreaded Hunger Games, interviewing the tributes before they enter the games and providing colorful commentary as they murder each other with poisoned berries and bee hives. Due to his journalistic integrity, it is unclear just how much he believes in the games themselves, but he will make you laugh, sigh, and bawl your eyes out while he wrings the tributes for every tender morsel he can for the TV show. This man knows his job and does it well. 

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3. Lee Gates – Money Monster

Atsushi Nishijima/Tristar Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Lee Gates (George Clooney) is the host of a popular investment show, and by all accounts a fairly entertaining and intelligent one. When his advice leads a man to lose his life savings, however, the man infiltrates the studio and threatens to blow the place up unless Gates can get him some answer. Gates then shows a tremendous ability to remain cool under pressure as he works to uncover a whole ring of corruption regarding a prominent financial institution. Showing a journalist’s acumen for finding the truth and a news anchor’s grace under pressure, he is one of the great cinematic newscasters. 

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2. Gordon Deitrich – V for Vendetta

Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection

Gordon Deitrich (Stephen Fry) is more than a great journalist. He is a great man. The Graham Norton-esque figure from V for Vendetta holds a position of some fame and fortune in the new world order due to his longstanding career. However, he’s not allowed to openly express his homosexuality or rock the boat. He takes the fledgling Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman) under his wing at the studio and teaches her to resist. It’s then, live on his show for all to watch, that he makes the ultimate sacrifice, standing up to the evil Chancellor and his disgusting regime. Deitrich is later killed for his insubordination, but sometimes standing up for the truth is more important than our individual happiness. RIP Gordon Deitrich. A true hero. 

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1. Gale Weathers – Scream

Miramax/Courtesy Everett Collection

No one is doing as much and doing it as well as Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox). Not only is she a local newscaster, intent on getting the scoop by whatever means necessary, but she’s also a bestselling author of a book about Ghostface as well as a a crime novelist. But mostly she’s kicking ass and staying alive through four tangles with serial killers. Only a truly stubborn journalist would keep crawling back to the scene of the crime, each time intent on getting to the bottom of the truth and killing baddies along the way. We must stan Gale (despite her Scream 3 hair). No one is putting in work like her. 

Watch it now on HBO Max

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