Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Tale of Two Honest Brokers of Information

Two famous news anchors appeared on talk shows this past week, albeit one who has - or was, effectively - retired from network news.

Friday night saw 80 year-old Dan Rather being interviewed by Bill Maher and the nine-minute interview was a brilliant masterclass of opinion regarding the state of the news media today. Rather subtly, yet articulately, condemned the corporatisation and politicisation of the news media as the cause of the epidemic of elevating the trivial to the highest level of importance in the news media.

That was only part of what was an extremely watchable, albeit brief, interaction. Maher, when he wants to be, is no mean interviewer, himself; his problem is that he coasts along on generalisation and misinformation for three years and prods himself awake each election year. In this interview, we see the Maher who really wants to see himself as a serious pundit, and Rather gives him the respect he deserves, by answering some very prescient questions posed.

As the last surviving anchorman of the golden age of news, when - as he mentioned CBS's Bill Paley as recognising - there was a firewall between the profit-making entertainment of a network and the public service provided by a responsible news entity associated, Rather brought home the damage done by corporations bedding down with government to deceive the public with blatant broadcast misinformation and false equivalency.

Watch the interview below:-

Earlier in the week, NBC's Brian Williams, currently the highest-paid news anchor in the nation, sat down with David Letterman for a lenghthier interview.

I know this was on an altogether lighter note, but watch Williams's pithy obfuscation to some of Letterman's remarks and enquiries, especially around the four-minute mark when Letterman takes Williams to task for Williams's inherent false equivalency in implying that Obama's taking down bin Laden as somewhat easier for the President "inheriting" a somewhat easier situation because the war was "winding down." Also infuriating is the way Williams sidesteps Letterman's question. In this instance, it's Letterman who forces the point, and the "honest broker of information" who's the corporate man and, therefore, distinctly less than honest.

Gosh, how I miss the days of Rather, Huntley and Brinkley, Peter Jennings and wise Uncle Walter!

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