JANUARY 28, 1998, 8:01 EST. Lisa McRee, co-anchor of Good Morning America, is navigating what will be the news story of the year. It is the day after the president’s State of the Union address amid the breaking Monica Lewinsky scandal and rampant impeachment talk, and the Fort Worth native is at the White House to interview a crisis-mode Hillary Rodham Clinton. McRee lobs a few polite questions before she asks if—to put it plainly—Mrs. Clinton has ever just asked her husband for the truth about his relationship with the former intern. Mrs. Clinton bristles, then replies that she never talks about her conversations with the president. With the tension now turned up several notches, McRee holds her breath and presses on.
“Have you ever talked to him about sending mixed signals?”
“No, no, because he is who he is,” the first lady says icily.
The moment the broadcast ends, Mrs. Clinton unclips her mike and walks off the set without a word. Though McRee would later cringe when talking about the interview—“I was really not happy with it,” she told me—the next day she received her first notable reviews for her gutsy style, with one critic noting that she made Today co-anchor Matt Lauer’s interview with the first lady the day before “look like a kaffeeklatsch.”
Since coming aboard the embattled GMA last September, the 36-year-old McRee has had to contend with lagging ratings, the exit of longtime co-anchor Charlie Gibson, and a much-criticized new set that Entertainment Weekly recently lambasted as “disastrous,” yet she has managed to survive her first year with her reputation intact; one reporter even called her the “best hope to succeed Barbara Walters.” The reason is that McRee is truly a different kind of morning show host. Her wit and irreverence are a refreshing change from the