The Delightful Voyeurism of Watching News Anchors Report From Their Homes

The charms of self-quarantine are limited, and all of them are odd. Find out how much of your own body hair you can remove using your rapidly lengthening fingernails! Develop a crush on the one bird you keep seeing from your window!

Please, help yourself to one more accidental delight of this deeply unpleasant time: watching straight-faced news anchors broadcast from their homes, in front of their decorative rock collections, their wedding photos, and their psychedelic posters.

While some news anchors continue to beam into homes nationwide from formal studios, even as the number of deaths from COVID-19 double every three days, more—including the wonderful anchors on PBS News Hour—are broadcasting from home, standing in front of blank walls that producers (often also working from home) manipulate to look like “real” studios. You may not have been able to tell since he was standing in front of a stock photo of lower Manhattan, but MSNBC’s Ali Velshi reported live this week from his home for the first time in his three-decade career.

This feeble attempt at business-as-usual, though well-intentioned, must go. To hell with the over-pixelated images of twinkling skyscrapers and sepia-toned close-ups of cityscapes that networks think we want to see behind newscasters’ heads. Give us instead, Rachel Maddow’s breakfast nook. Let us see Jake Tapper’s man cave. Give us someone’s house cat crawling unexpectedly across a graphic comparing the S&P to the NASDAQ. Show us Ari Melber trying to conceal his irritation as someone in his house keeps flushing the toilet.

A true queen protects her health and works in front of a massive wine cooler

When news anchors do broadcast from home—with no faux background or support team—it’s enchanting. As newscasters are, more than ever, the messengers of terrible tidings, feast your eyes on CNBC’s Bob Pisani’s lovingly framed Grateful Dead poster. Play I-Spy on Steve Liesman’s desk, covered in tangled wires and a TV remote. Luxuriate in Joy Reid’s tasteful bookshelf plants. Sure, Pisani, a financial reporter, is in the process of breaking down a graph enigmatically labeled “PIMCO SHORT MAT STRAT,” but I, a home-bound viewer, am focused on his free-standing shelving unit of carved Buddha figurines.

Robin Roberts, who has survived cancer and lives with a rare blood disorder, cited her underlying health conditions as one of the reasons she will be shooting *Good Morning America* from home. Not only is she practicing excellent social distancing behavior and offering a masterclass in speaking up for her needs, she is also modeling matching your top to your flower arrangement and broadcasting in front of what appears to be a wine storage cabinet. Roberts showed off a beautiful dog and a giant geode (which a surprising number of anchors seem to have—what’s up with the rocks, journalists?). Meanwhile, Today anchor Savannah Guthrie, taking precautions because of a cold, broadcast barefoot from her basement, with help from her husband. Her fellow co-host Craig Melvin appeared on air from what looked like a hallway covered in palm-tree patterned wallpaper, featuring a Pinterest-y framed sign that reads, “Never Stop.”

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