Monday, February 9, 2015


Twilight in Morro Bay
     Naming Walter Cronkite and Brian Williams in the same sentence is somehow inappropriate but now inevitable. 
     They had the same job title, but the world between them is profoundly different. Williams appears to be a likable guy, big personality, glib and facile mind but he's no longer right for the job.The NBC Nightly News anchor and managing editor has benched himself for a few days during the furor over his indiscretion. As hard as it would be to do, he should step down and find another role. 
     In the age of Cronkite, Huntley, Brinkley, Smith, even Jennings, Brokaw and Rather he'd be out. Rather's demise at CBS News was linked to his voicing a report, prepared by a producer, that claimed documentation they did not have. Later those documents were evident, but not when CBS claimed they were. Williams, kindly put, exaggerated. More pointedly he hyped or lied about being on a helicopter hit by ground fire. His credibility is shot.
     Back to my lead sentence.  Walter Cronkite was a journalist who spent years in the field and learned the craft first as a writer and reporter. Eventually he became a broadcaster.  Williams is of an era of "studio babies."  There are many of his generation who have spent most, if not all of their career in studios. That is not a skill to be discounted, but it is nothing like being in the field, gathering facts and data and sorting through experiences.  
    I know the difference. I've been a reporter on his own and I've been an anchor in the field, surrounded by producers, and other support staff.  When a network anchor leaves the studio for the field  there are many who accompany them.    
    The current gold standard for a television anchor today is personality, looks, style and communication skills. There was a time when journalistic tools, writing and reporting were the skills that moved a person to the anchor desk. It is a different world and while standards and roles have changed, an appearance of credibility still matters. 
     I can't begin to understand how Williams could have confused reality. I don't know why he would need to inflate his resume and experiences. I don't buy the excuses he offered. 
    I've covered stories with gun fire. I've reported from war zones. I've had a gun jammed into my chest by a young combatant. My crew and I were the only unarmed people in some situations. Memories like that remain focused, even when you try to forget or bury them. 
    I'm sorry for Brian Williams, but I'm old fashioned enough to expect my anchor person to be honest and to understand the most important part of the role is the news, not them-self. The task is to get it right and to be honorable and honest.

 A once stately building on Oahu provides an interesting photo op.
   JC Chandor seems to have mastered the art of making a film that has a mostly singular focus, immersing you in a tight and enthralling struggle and delivering extraordinary and unique work.
    A MOST VIOLENT YEAR is not for everyone, but if you enjoy a compelling tale, realistic in style and scope and full of brilliant acting, you'll want to see this.  Chandor wrote and directed A MOST VIOLENT YEAR. His previous work was the solo performance of Robert Redford in ALL IS LOST.
   Oscar Isaac is marvelous as the New York fuel dealer who trys to play it honestly in a business full of corruption and violence.  Jessica Chastain is also superb as his wife who's family ties are to the other side of the street. Albert Brooks demonstrates his great acting chops as Isaac's partner.
    The film is not full of violence, despite the title, though it is a marvelously taut script, brilliantly directed and unpredictable through out. And it is a tribute to honor and honesty.

    See you down the trail.


  1. The Chinooks Williams was flying with were carrying sections of bridging. They were the 2nd in the formation, there was ground fire and the lead Chinook was hit by the RPG. The Chinook Williams and his crew were riding in left the formation and dropped off the bridging then came back. The charge of Williams showing up an hour later was unfair and defended by the pilot. What is indefensible was Williams saying he was in the Chinook that was hit by the RPG and his upgrading of the stories over the years. He also didn't have a "Fred" type boss who would sit his ass down and tell him to stop his BS. And it's not the first time he's embroidered his role in stories. The way NBC works now Luke Russert will probably get the anchor chair.

  2. All time favorites: Edward Murrow, Walter Cronkite and Tom Cochrun!

    The rest were just amateurs and pretenders…and that’s telling like it is!!!

    1. To quote someone--"I am not worthy!"

      You did put a big smile on my face however.

  3. It saddens me to say it, but the era when we could believe the anchor at the news desk is over. Now these are all pretty boys, actors hungry for ratings.

  4. Ah, journalism. Wherefore art thou, journalism?

  5. A couple of comments:

    I, too, found A Violent Year to be very interesting viewing.

    I find myself with a little different attitude toward Brian Williams, I guess, and one that's not at all with the majority. To my way of thinking, network news anchors have long since stopped being journalists and simply become pretty talking heads. Brokaw might be the last one to rightly claim that title. There may be a few true journalists among the ranks of TV news, but for the most part they are now simply entertainers. I no stock into what a news anchors says when entertaining as a guest on The Daily Show. They simply cannot be expected to be journalists anymore, because the nature of the industry is not remotely like it was in the glory years. Journalism, if it exists at all, dwells in the print media alone, and even there not as often as it should. Expecting anything different out of Brian Williams is a little silly, I think. As though expecting a supermodel to medal in the Olympic sprints.

  6. So much of what you say is sadly true, however. I invoke the however because after 42 years in journalism, most of it in broadcasting, I think we must hold the line, even if it may be a rear guard action. Most television has morphed into a hybrid of information, news, hype and sensation with the primary objective being to amass ratings. That is a diabolic tilt. There are however still elements of Big J journalism being practiced. Those need to be encouraged and one way to do so is for the viewing public, shrinking though it is, to hold the line on expectations. We should demand that media abide by the codes and canons of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) the new version of the old Radio, Television News Directors Association. Some say Williams should get a pass, because his trouble with reality stemmed from his own personal story. I don't see that distinction. Credibility should still be expected and honesty must be practiced for credibility to exist. One of the bright spots in journalism is the BBC. They've found a way to be credible and still competitive. There are many fine instances found in local US television, where local audiences can still exert influence by use of the on and off switch.
    Thanks for your thoughts.