When I grew up, there were three giants of network news: Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, and Peter Jennings. Each had held their job for over twenty years. I took for granted each election that I would turn on the television, and there they would be. When they stepped down (well, Jennings died), it was a pretty big deal about who would replace them. Charles Gibson, Katie Couric, and Brian Williams.

Gibson retired in 2009, Couric left in 2011, and it looks like Brian Williams is out (even if it’s technically a suspension). Brian Williams always struck me as the most lightweight of the three, and I don’t understand how he got the job when Stone Phillips was available. But to me, only Gibson had the “it” that I thought the Big Three (and, for that matter, Ted Koppel) had. Diane Sawyer, who replaced Gibson and who is also now gone, also had it.

I haven’t seen Sawyer’s successor, or Couric’s, for that matter. With the proliferation of cable news, I suppose it just doesn’t matter as much as it used to.

I previously likened this to the big annual Disney release. When I was a kid, it was always a big event what movie Disney would do next. Then along came Pixar and and the proliferation of media, and Disney movies came and went and just didn’t matter so much.

And with the proliferation of news outlets, Brian Williams getting suspended for six months is eclipsed by the host of a comedy and new parody show leaving.

I don’t know if this says more about the evolving business of news, our current culture, or that at some point the nakedness of the emperor just became a bit more obvious.


Category: Theater

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17 Responses to The Trivality Of Network Newsmen

  1. Mike Hunt Ray Rice says:

    I have literally never watched a network newscast.

    I am going to speak on this matter anyway, however. I am familiar with Williams because of his previous show: The News With Brian Williams, which was on MSNBC. I was familiar with it because it directly followed The Big Show with Keith Olbermann.

    As an aside, MSNBC’s studios were in Secaucus, NJ, at the time, at the current location of MLB Network studios.

    I couldn’t tell you who hosts the ABC network newscast. I know Scott Pelley hosts the CBS network newscast, only because he is on 60 Minutes, which I DO watch.

  2. Mike Hunt Ray Rice says:

    I neglected to mention that Williams daughter recently had tuchuslingus performed on her on Girls.

    Of course, since she (not her character) is a prude, she was clothed otherwise.

    • trumwill says:

      Only one with cable. Another in the kitchen that you couldn’t watch if someone was watching in the living room. Another in the parents bedroom with lousy reception and in the parents bedroom.

    • Peter says:

      From what I read, she used a device fashioned out of flesh-colored tape and a sanitary pad to avoid any actual contact during filming. Though it might have been motivated by squeamishness on the other actor’s part.

      • James Hanley says:

        It’s okay to show pretend sex that looks totally real on tv, just not actual sex. There should be a disclaimer, as when animals appear to be injured: “No actors were sexed in the making of this show.”

        Puppet sex, however, will get you an NC-17 rating.

  3. We were an ABC news household, as my mother would watch local news from 5 to 6:30, and the World News Tonight at 6:30 and then Jeopardy at 7 PM. So this whole Brian Williams issue is just background noise for her, but killing off Ted Koppel’s version of Nightline is still a great shame to her.

    With the proliferation of cable news, I suppose it just doesn’t matter as much as it used to.

    These traditional news programmes simply have lower ratings when compared to their past levels, and if you’re in the West Coast, the feed, IIRC, is delayed or taped, so the news is “stale” in some cases by the time it airs.

    FWIW, in Europe, the anchors tend to be easily replaceable figureheads, and in some cases, the reporters are rarely seen or limited on-screen presentation. Mind you, sometimes, state run European television news can feel like the “video” version of an radio news broadcast. IIRC, from what I remember, nobody shows the news at the same time there, with each network choosing competing times to show their respective broadcasts…

  4. Disney movies came and went and just didn’t matter so much.

    Admittedly, there’s more competition for animated films, and for all intents and purposes, Disney annual releases are really Pixar releases. Plus, the post-Lion King string of Disney movies weren’t as, um, well regarded as the previous set*, so the magic that existed has become somewhat subdued. I suspect as Lain gets older, you may find yourself enmeshed in that world again, and Disney movies may become more important. It’s easy to dismiss a segment when you’re no longer included, as I discovered first hand when my knowledge of children’s programming peaked when my niece and nephew were watching such shows, and waned as they aged out of their habits.

    *Look at how some of the pre-Little Mermaid movies are regarded today, and almost hidden in some cases.

  5. James Hanley says:

    I think the focus on network news anchors is an uncomfortable combination of the media’s need to feel important and some people’s innate preference for an authoritarian figure to tell them what is what. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy got it right–they’re just reading out loud off a TelePrompTer. I found Williams’ tortured monotone efforts to sound very serious the most irritating

    I’m not entirely sure the wailing and gnashing of teeth over Stewart’s departure from The Daily Show doesn’t show the same need for authority. At least he’s a funny guy who can think on his feet. Although I hardly ever watched him, either.

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