The Best Dressed News Anchor Isn’t A News Anchor.

America’s Most Influential News Anchor according to Ranker, updated October 7, 2020

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Please, for the love of god.  This is a piece about Ivy dressed news anchors, or the lack thereof.  I get you don’t like one side or the other.  We are talking clothes here.  Get it? – JB

Walter Cronkite is still America’s most influential news anchor according to the polling done by Ranker, last updated October 7, 2020.   I have to believe there wasn’t a lot of movement since then.  If you research images of Walter Cronkite, he started Ivy and then went almost exclusively to a spread collar.   In the picture above Cronkite is at least wearing an OCBD.  With a decent roll, I might add.

Of course the news isn’t the news anymore, of course the business isn’t what it was and of course there is no objectivity.  Of course the need for objectivity has not diminished, if anything it has increased.  The loss of objectivity in the news is a very tired rant.  I am not so sure the news ever was objective, I will leave that to the comments.   I do remember at least being able to trust that when Cronkite hosted the first moon walk that that was indeed the moon and we were indeed walking on it.  I mean, right?  Right?

With nowhere to go the advice is to use multiple sources, read instead of watch, etc.   Unfortunately for us writers, read instead of watch didn’t take, and big money goes into “news” every minute of every day.  On the decision tree, the choice of anchor is at the top.  And what they wear is right underneath it.   How on planet earth is Ivy so under represented here, then?  You would think that if you wanted to communicate the message “I am smart, have given this a lot of thought, and you can trust me,” that Ivy would be the first place you go.  Even back in the heyday.  And yet.

Here’s a young Brinkley, where’s the Ivy?

Number two on the list – David Brinkley.  Google it for yourself.  He went spread collar before he could even afford spread collar.  Number three?  Edward R. Murrow.

Edward R. Murrow at least brings a little game.

From there, it only goes down the Ivy Hill.  Jennings.  Brokaw.  Reasoner. Koppel.  No Ivy.  Some VERY unfortunate bracelets (there is a picture online that I do not have permission to use but if you Google Tom Brokaw bracelet you will see an offering from Getty Images of Mr. Brokaw behind the desk, and I am going to use a word here – bangles).

Everything about news anchoring in one picture, and no Ivy.

I found a picture of Ralph Lauren in a white OCBD, can’t find one of Hugh Downs or John Chancellor.  Or even Jane Pauley.  And that’s your top ten.  Dan Rather did not make the list.

It is always one button too much with this guy.


In the spirit of news, though, THIS JUST IN:

“Throughout his well-respected career both as correspondent and NBC news anchor John Chancellor was always fully attired in
J. Press” – R. Press

To find the best dressed news anchor (and again, please spare me in the comments – I know there aren’t any news anchors any more) I had to dig DEEP.  I came up with three finalists, but even they are flawed.  First, Chris Matthews:

It is very hard to argue with the way Chris Matthews dressed. That said, he never made it behind an anchor desk.

There were a few days where Chris Matthews and I were wearing the same thing, back when he was working.  I can’t get Matthews on the list though.  Not only did he never anchor, but this list is PAINFULLY void of women in the first place, and while I am not sure what went on with him (nor are you), I know it didn’t end well.   I was into Joe Scarborough for a little while, but damn, his wardrobe is so all over the map that I can’t get him on the list either.


Ok, here he is doing alright, but the next minute he is in some peak lapeled monstrosity that you damn well know he didn’t either (1) pick out or (2) understand.

I think my winner has to be Tucker Carlson.  He made the run with the bow ties and for the life of me I will never understand why he gave that up.  Even now though, Carlson shows up as close to Ivy as major media will let you get.

And the winner is.



36 Comments on "The Best Dressed News Anchor Isn’t A News Anchor."

  1. Richard E. Press | October 12, 2021 at 9:02 am |

    Throughout his well-respected career both as correspondent and NBC news anchor John Chancellor was always fully attired in
    J. Press, a credit to both his profession and standard of public appearance.

    Amended, please see above. – JB

  2. What about Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer? I did an image search and they dressed mostly Ivy.

    Some images have a “hard at work” look — sleeves rolled up, collar unbuttoned, loose tie. It’s an unfavorable look. If I unbutton my collar, I take off the tie, and use it as a pocket square.

    I will check them out – good catch! I actually did some work with them, and don’t remember any Ivy. But that was a while ago. – JB

  3. Charles Dana | October 12, 2021 at 10:46 am |

    It’s “Cronkite.”

    Thanks – JB

  4. I was wondering when this topic would come up. It had to someday and I guess today is the day. Good luck keeping the comments section clean with this one… Eesh.
    On best-dressed, I will agree completely. But while ivy style implies certain shared values, it is also true that one’s sartorial skill can be inversely proportional to the content of one’s character. I’ll comment no further on that.
    But I will say, I do miss the days of a shared set of facts broadcast by three or four well-dressed people each weeknight.

  5. Charles Dana | October 12, 2021 at 11:23 am |

    I doubt if, over the decades, the viewers have cared whether or not the male anchor was dressed in the Ivy League manner. Ninety-nine viewers out of a hundred don’t even notice the anchors’ shirt collars. Thus, the newsmen probably figured that inasmuch as they were about to go on camera before a national audience, they should dress crisply.

    And why not? An Ivy League rig may indeed convey sober credibility, but that doesn’t mean that a straight or moderately-spread shirt collar, in conjunction with a quiet necktie and well-fitting jacket, can’t get across the respectability quotient just as well. Those collars are hardly fashion-forward.

  6. Jesse Livermore | October 12, 2021 at 12:12 pm |

    Carlson continued wearing bow ties all the way through his broadcast career until 2006 when MSNBC — who previously promoted Carlson as “The Man. The Legend. The Bow Tie.” — convinced him to put on a regular tie. The New Yorker claims producers felt the bow ties “encouraged the audience to view him as a character, or perhaps a caricature.”

  7. Loved the article!
    Yes, even though I dislike Mr Carlson, you are right he dresses ivy and as a bow tie wearer for over 70 years, I missed his wearing them.
    As a fan of Jim Lerner, he to me was the best dressed ivy style
    But loved the idea of the article and it left politics aside
    Hurrah for you and your readers

    Thanks Howard! – JB

  8. I guess that this pretty much blow out of the water
    Mark Twain’s pronouncement that “clothes make the man”.

  9. Now that the coffee has activated; I was overreaching with MacNeil & Lehrer.

    Been there with the coffee, brother. – JB

  10. And to think that BBC newsreaders used to wear dinner jackets for broadcasts…on the radio.

  11. If integrity and character are essential to TV news and Ivy Style, Tucker Carlson doesn’t belong here. Maybe next time have a category for turned-out racists or purveyors of disinformation.

    THIS is what we were hoping to avoid. Why even? You have to know you are going to get the response that this is about clothes – so why even? Is it that you cannot help yourself? – JB

  12. Ooops! Make that “blows” out of the water
    Edit yourself.

  13. My Ivy vote is for Carlson. He’s got it all.

  14. Murrow’s clothes came from Savile Row.

  15. I’d also nominate Tom Keene of Bloomberg for this group (lead anchor of Bloomberg Surveillance, their morning program) – he’s a confirmed bow tie wearer (I don’t think you can find a photo of him wearing a necktie), but his style is Ivy or Ivy-adjacent, he is always on air dressed as though he could either be seen teaching a college economics course or about to walk into one of the E. 43rd/44th Street clubs, and his on-air demeanor is consistently respectful of the show’s guests and their viewpoints (not to mention that he never fails to give credit where credit is due).

  16. It may be only inherently* old school WASPy cultural movement (in America) outside of Mainline Protestantism, most especially Scottish Presbyterianism and Anglicanism, is the Liberal Establishment. Which is the political birthchild of Mainline Protestantism.

    For his obvious anger toward (and too obvious resentment of) The Liberal Establishment and its cultural, religious, and political offering, Carlson is notable— in a not-so-good way.

    It may be he’s “well-dressed” relative to this lot. (Granted?). But the spread collars and darted, heavily padded suits disqualify him for anything remotely Ivy. And, for all of his inherited $, he wreaks of the nouveau riche, ever anxious about higher taxes and more government. Pathetic.

    His (utter) lack of charm combined with the anxious fearfulness — almost laughable. At least pathetic …and probably lamentable.

  17. And if this really is “about clothes” (only), how is the award bestowed upon a man who wears the same spread collared shirt (ugh) and solid navy suit accessorized with snoozeville-ish repp tie — every day? But maybe bland consistency is here prioritized over-and-above all else? True of modern day Brooks so why not proposed standard-bearers?

    At least Chancellor wore flannel and wool challis.

  18. @S.E. – Carlson wears a tennis collar (not a spread) from Mercer & Sons.

  19. William F. Buckley wore the look and lived the life!!

  20. Whatever Mercer calls it, looks like a spread.

    No mention of Charles Kuralt.

    Kuralt didn’t make that list, but I looked, and there is some Ivy going on for sure. – JB

  21. S.E.

    I’m not sure you have actually seen Tucker Carlson from your description of his dress. Like Lisa Birnbach, self appointed de facto commissioner of preppy revealed a few months ago in, I think it was the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, you seem preoccupied with him. VEA/AEV to his F.E. Castleberry.



  22. What about Robin MacNeil?

  23. Roy R. Platt | October 12, 2021 at 9:33 pm |

    Once upon a time news readers on radio wore ties and jackets.

  24. Prescott Trowbridge | October 12, 2021 at 11:32 pm |

    What Mark Twain actually wrote:

    “[One] realizes that without his clothes a man would be nothing at all; that the clothes do not merely make the man, the clothes are the man; that without them he is a cipher, a vacancy, a nobody, a nothing… There is no power without clothes.”

  25. Greg Lamberton | October 13, 2021 at 12:05 am |

    @Roy R. Platt
    And once upon a time, there were men who wore ties and jackets when they listened to news-readers on the radio.

  26. @ Preston Trowbridge
    Quote Investigator: The earliest known evidence for this saying was published in the book: “More Maxims of Mark”. This slim volume was compiled by Merle Johnson and privately printed in November 1927. Only fifty first edition copies were created, so gaining access to the work can be difficult. The Rubenstein Rare Book Library at Duke University holds book number 14 of 50. With the help of digital images captured by a friend, QI was able to verify that the quotation is present on page number 6 of this book. Below is the saying under investigation together with the preceding and succeeding entries. Maxims in the work were presented in uppercase: 1


  27. William M Kostrub | October 13, 2021 at 12:05 pm |

    Brit Hume!

  28. Re: the Ignatius comment and JB’s response, It is completely impossible to write about Mr. Carlson, well-dressed though he is, without eliciting a very strong reaction from a large number of readers. I’m frankly surprised there weren’t more comments about it. A significant percentage of the population do not view him as a sufficiently benign figure to feature in a blog about an unrelated topic like clothes. In a pandemic that has killed millions of people around the world, and in a society that is reckoning with racism, to feature him at all is, in my view, kinda irresponsible.
    In my first comment, I wrote that I’d comment no further on the topic. But no, I couldn’t help myself either.

  29. Carlson must be unpersoned, sent to joycamp for crimethink. Prolefeed says Carlson doubleplusungood. Sorry JB, I couldn’t help myself either.

    G and T time soon



  30. The emperor (news caster) wears no clothes.
    When anyone surrounds himself with “yes” men, it often leads to absurd and embarrassing results. It is far better to surround oneself with honest people who are unafraid to ask questions or to point out deficiencies as they see them.

  31. Will, in his favor, he’d be one of the better-dressed folks ever to visit Room 101.

  32. Andy Rooney.

    Morley Safer.

    Both Sack Men who deserve their own piece ….
    I’m beginning to get the feeling we are getting a bit lost around here.

  33. Good additions, and as long as we’re talking people from 60 Minutes, I’ll also add Mike Wallace, who was almost always wearing a button down collar.

  34. Tucker Carlson and Brit Hume for the conservatives and for the liberals, Jamelle Bouie.
    Washington politicians – hands down it is Sen. John Kennedy from Louisiana. Kennedy is Ivy all the way.

  35. Jonathan Sanders | May 12, 2022 at 4:24 pm |

    Here are two that weren’t anchors but were/are journalists: George Will (serious Ivy), Morley Safer (continental Ivy)

  36. RaleighPrep | August 17, 2022 at 12:02 pm |

    Seems like Chris Matthews (Holy Cross & UNC, and Scarborough (Alabama & Florida) have the look down pat. Not technically anchors, nor equating degrees with Trad per se, but they seem to have the old collegiate vibe.

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