Wednesday, November 24, 2004

 

Anchor's away

Dan Rather steps down after 24 years as anchor of CBS News – who gives a hoot?

Walter Cronkite was the last news anchorman who really mattered. When he retired and was replaced by Dan Rather in 1981, people knew even then that it was the beginning of the end of major network broadcast news as an important institutional force. Although no one could have predicted the rise of cable television news and the internet, movies like Network and, later Broadcast News, were predicting a decline of editorial standards as network news slid into infotainment.

Dan Rather was perfectly cast for the role of director of declining news standards. Although undoubtedly smarter and more accomplished than our current president, and apparently a Democrat by inclination, Rather was the George w Bush of network anchormen. From the beginning to the end of his career as network anchor, he consistently maintained that deer-in-the-headlights, at-a-loss-for-words look as if to emphasize what his bumbling speech already suggested, that he was totally overmatched and at a loss, not for words, but for competent, insightful words.

There's a hauting scene in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers in which a knocked-out British tank, whose crew has obviously been killed, continues to roll forward, in flames, driverless, slowly veering off the road. Network news has been that burning tank for some time, and Rather its (brain)dead driver, so his stepping down is really not ... news.

What's the point of evening network news, anyway? I'm not constitutionally opposed to eating my dinner in front of the TV, with, say, a nice West Wing rerun on DVD, but I can't imagine any more unpleasant way to spend the dinner hour, or the first post-dinner hour of the evening, than watching bad journalism interrupted every eight to ten minutes by commercials. Rather is kind of an idiot, Jennings is a pompous ass, and Brokaw, well, I could never listen to Brokaw without going into a reverie about how there seems to be a disproportionate number of TV and radio broadcasters with, not only speech impediments, but Brokaw's particular form of speech impediment, that thing with the L's. My thinking would always go the same way: I'd imagine little Tommy Brokaw in speech therapy classes, and then I'd hypothesize that the effort and will involved to overcome a speech impediment probably acts as a psychological driver in the more successful of these kids to seek out public speaking careers as a sort of compensation, and that's why the seemingly disproportionate representation.... and before I'd know it, I'd have missed what Brokaw was saying.

The best thing about Rather's resignation is that it the hitherto unending right wing pundit-blogger wankathon over "Rathergate" can now achieve its climax, and the right wing bloggers can now finally stop bleating about the "media's liberal bias," that great canard of the zilches. Now our conservative friends can model that behavior they have demanded of us liberals, the "it's over, so get over it" thing.

No, wait. They can't. More on that later.

Comments:
Found a lot of useful info on your site about speech therapy - thank you. Haven't finished reading it yet but have bookmarked it so I don't lose it. I've just started a speech therapy blog myself if you'd like to stop by
 
I found a lot of useful info about speech therapy on your blog - thank you. I also have a new speech therapy tips blog - please click over and have a look
 
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