Breaking the TV News Mold

Today’s broadcast and cable news pundits are both independent thinkers and independent dressers.

Photo Credit: Amy Lombard for The New York Times

By Teddy Tinson

One day in January, Sunny Hostin, an ABC News senior legal correspondent and a host of “The View,” was sitting behind a desk on the “Nightline” soundstage talking to the ABC News correspondent Linsey Davis about a Purdue University “rape by fraud” case. She was wearing a tropical print wrap dress with blouson sleeves, a small gold “S” pendant necklace and a flowing mane of honey-colored, stadium-concert-ready curls.

“People think if you’re too glamorous, you must not be smart,” she had said in an interview in her office a few weeks earlier. A lawyer and former federal prosecutor who has won three Emmys — two for her work as a “Good Morning America” correspondent and a third for “The President and the People,” an ABC News special on Barack Obama — Ms. Hostin is doing her best to change all that.

Along with two other former lawyers, Zerlina Maxwell, 37, who is an MSNBC political analyst, and Maya Wiley, 55, an NBC News and MSNBC legal analyst, Ms. Hostin, 50, represents the new face of political news punditry.

Traditionally defined by news media personalities like Megyn Kelly and Kimberly Guilfoyle in bright-and-tight sleeveless sheaths, or besuited broadcast journalists like Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric, the image is ripe for reinvention, and women like Ms. Hostin, Ms. Maxwell and Ms. Wiley are challenging the antiquated aesthetics of the television workplace.

And they’re ready to air their views. “For people with the access, you have to share the information,” Ms. Hostin said. “I’m just trying to kick open the doors.”

These are edited excerpts from individual conversations with the three women.

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