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“Lucky Life Can be a Comedy…Sometimes”

February 17, 2015 Leave a comment

For those who stay informed about politics, general current events, comedy, and how they cross-pollinate the news of The Daily Show host Jon Stewart retiring is probably still fresh in their minds. Also, if one is paying attention these days the grapevine is still “shaking” with news of Brian Williams and his departure from NBC Nightly News because of apparent continued hyperbole in the telling and retelling of his war reporting during the Second Iraq War in 2003 (RollingStone has a good piece on this). Finally, as if the rule of threes is playing out in a weird way, there was the tragic and untimely passing of 60 Minutes reporter Bob Simon. A person who covered wars going back to Vietnam and as recent as Iraq 2. Tragic irony that he died in a car crash.

These three media events display the blessings of media in the United States and the tragedies. Jon Stewart carved out a niche for himself and others with his commentary and criticism of society and culture, and news media itself. Defining himself as a satirist he blurred those edges of comedy and journalism to present a critical analysis of what the general public has watched. Jon Stewart and The Daily Show were not just a vehicle for news gathering and reporting. They provided social commentary and analysis…at least from one perspective. Lost though in the comedic art skill set Stewart displayed was the fact he was a damn good interviewer. He spoke with guests in a very direct, funny, and respective manner. Hopefully he continues to at least talk with the people who balance society. This is why Stewart and his incarnation of The Daily Show will be missed. The “real” news was left to people like Brian Williams.

By-in-large Brian Williams was the most trusted news anchor on television. He seemed humble, and despite recent events I believe he is still a humble newsman. But with fame comes a hefty price. With all his fame and what seemed to be power and influence, those tangibles quickly became intangible and bought him nothing except heightened scrutiny, intolerance, and what appears to be no second chance. We take such delight and pleasure in building up our idols, if only to take equal joy in watching them be torn down, or just fall. Brian Williams was an investment; a transaction; a commodity that provided great benefits for NBC. But seeing that the brand may be damaged NBC has chosen not to support one of its premiere brands. Instead, the corporation has decided to effectively terminate Mr. Williams. What comes of this is still anybody’s guess, but one thing is for sure, people will watch their news anchors with all the more scrutiny and skepticism.

All that said, Bob Simon was a newsman beyond reproach. As comedians are presented as legitimate purveyors of the news, and anchors defend themselves again accusations of false reporting, a staple for decades was Bob Simon. 60 Minutes is an institution, and Bob Simon was as well. I remember my father watching 60 Minutes every Sunday on CBS, so the show and Simon were somewhat familiar to me. In any regard as far as real newspeople are concerned, Bob Simon was as real as you could get.

In the United States people are fortunate to have a wide range of options as to how they access news. Jon Stewart used satire to analyze news placing a critical spotlight on the mainstream media; he taught us to think (while laughing…hoping that would change our behavior). Brian Williams represented how people, these days, need to take in news; in immediate 2 to 3 minute clips that seem fairly accurate and trustworthy. But now we know we should watch nightly news broadcasts with the same skepticism and critical eye that Jon Stewart has used to create his segments for The Daily Show. Finally, we are extremely fortunate to have reporters like Bob Simon who take journalism out of the theater of comedy and nightly news bits and into the theater of captivating story telling and poignant critical analysis.

How lucky that life in the United States can sometimes be a comedy, while also being deadly serious.

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Japan 2009 World Baseball Classic Champs!!!

March 24, 2009 2 comments

Team Japan as 2009 World Baseball Classic Champions

Team Japan as 2009 World Baseball Classic Champions


Stars perform when they have to. That was Ichiro Suzuki in the 10th inning of the 2009 World Baseball Classic final. A slumpy Suzuki, Ichiro underperformed throughout the entire competition. But when his team needed him he came through by driving in the winning run, in a close 10 inning epic with 2008 Olympic champions, South Korea.

If I were a betting man I would have put my money on Japan. I knew they would pull it out. I think the consistent team work and team support allowed the Japanese to pull out some tough victories. The talent was always there, it was just a matter of making it all click just right.

Congratulations!

Peace

David Gregory Filling the Shoes

January 2, 2009 Leave a comment

This is just an update to the previous article, “Filling Big Tim’s Shoes.” Basically, for the past few weeks David Gregory, former Chief White House Correspondent for NBC, has been filling the role of moderator because he is the new moderator. Tom Brokaw was just an interim moderator after the tragic death of Tim Russert. Gregory is the permanent replacement, and the show is now…”Meet the Press, Moderated by David Gregory.” Congrats Dave and here’s to a new beginning.

david-gregory-meet-the-press

Filling Big Tim’s Shoes

November 2, 2008 1 comment
Courtesy of The New York Times

Courtesy of The New York Times

It’s no secret that Tim Russert stamped the Sunday morning political affairs news show “Meet the Press” with his own unique brand. Since is death in June 2008 (RIP) NBC has been struggling to fill the anchor seat now being kept warm by Tom Brokaw. I don’t envy the jobs of NBC’s network executives.

The New York Times has an interesting column regarding this arduous task. They list various people from the NBC news family, and beyond, who are on the short list to fill the slot. Chuck Todd, NBC Political Director, who has been making his face known this election period is a possible replacement. David Gregory, NBC Chief White House Correspondent is on the list. Andrea Mitchell, a well known face at NBC who handles foreign affairs, and a host of journalistic tasks, is on that list. Coming from outside NBC you have Grwen Ifill, who hosts “Washington Week” on PBS (she used to work for NBC way back); Katie Couric, who anchors “CBS Evening News” is being tossed around as she co-hosted the hugely popular and successful “Today Show”; Ted Koppel has also been thrown in there.

All interesting, and capable anchors. That said, NBC should take a step back and ponder more options. I’ll give you 3.

My humble suggestion for NBC Universal would be to either – 1) Bring in Brian Williams from “Nightly News” and shift Andrea Mitchell to fill the vacated “Nightly News” slot. Brian is a known face and his credentials are cemented enough to not be overshadowed by Tim Russert. He is acutely aware of what it is like to be on such a stage, and have to perform day in and day out. NBC would do itself and the television viewing community a great service by putting Brian Williams in the moderators seat. And by moving Andrea to the “Nightly News” slot it gives that show a solid anchor. Andrea is as good as they come.

2) Just give the slot to Andrea Mitchell. She has all you need for the job. Sometimes though I get the feeling she likes being the guest more than a central host figure. That would be my only reservation.

3) The final option would be to go totally out of the way, and bring in a fresh face. Hold massive auditions/job interviews. When Tim Russert came in he had worked his way up in the ranks, but for the most part he was a shot in the arm – a fresh face. Maybe that is what NBC needs. Someone who can create his/her own brand.

Whatever NBC does in trying to fill the vacuum left by Tim Russert it has to choose someone who, from day 1, will keep the credibility and integrity of the show. Tim definitely showed his emotions, and in some cases his political leanings, but he was always a professional who never condescended guests. The person coming in has to be able to at least fill those shoes. Hard shoes to fill by anyone’s standards.

Peace