Aug. 8, 2005--

The ABC's of Peter Jennings-- American; Born Canadian.

            Critics and fans of Peter Jennings share great sadness at his death.  One news source who knew him well, Brit Hume, described him as an honorable man who did not harbor grudges against, or maintain harsh feelings towards, those with whom he strenuously disagreed.   

            One protracted "event" and two newsmen did more to shape ABC News in the last twenty-five years than anything and anyone else:   The Iranians holding American diplomats hostage during latter part of Jimmy Carter's presidency, which led to ABC News providing nightly updates called "America Held Hostage" (which later became "Nightline"), was the protracted "event."  Ted Koppel (born in Britain) and Peter Jennings (born in Canada) were the two newsmen.  That two such immigrants rose to the top in America is more than a testimonial to their talents-- it's also a testimonial to part of what's great about America.

            "America Held Hostage" gave the then-struggling ABC News a foothold on the landscape of viewer loyalty.  When the crisis ended, ABC News' astute decision to continue a nightly news-update program in the form of "Nightline" with Ted Koppel gave ABC News a cachet lacked by the other two broadcast-news networks.  In hosting "Nightline," Koppel began, and for many years continued, providing a more balanced presentation of opposing views of current issues in the news than was being done by CBS or NBC.  This cachet helped ABC attract David Brinkley as the host for a revamped Sunday news program that became dominant and remained so for several years after Brinkley's departure.  Additionally, ABC News' periodic presentation of "town hall" programs (Viewpoint) inviting viewers to criticize ABC News exemplified a willingness to engage in introspection not comparably manifested by CBS or NBC at the time. 

            In becoming news anchor for ABC News, Jennings stood on the shoulders of the balanced-perspective cachet established by Koppel in the process of making Nightline an American institution for news junkies.   The balanced-presentation-of-issues goal I perceived Koppel and Jennings to have then been seeking to attain led me to prefer ABC News over the news at CBS or NBC.   However, as time wore on, Jennings (and later even Koppel) became comfortable enough with the status of ABC News as an established player in the broadcast-news game to begin backsliding into what many perceive (correctly, in my opinion) as the New York Times mindset, from which their balanced-presentation goals had initially distinguished them.  

            Paradoxically, Fox News today stands on the shoulders of the cachet conferred on "balanced" presentation of opposing views by both Koppel and Jennings when they were at their best.  Also paradoxically, Fox News also stands on the shoulders of Larry King, who, despite his limitations, provided another forum which news junkies initially found to be an emulation (pale though it was) of what they liked about "Nightline" -- i.e., a current-events program that afforded of a variety of opposing views to be expressed in an unfiltered way.

            Thus, even the most severe critics of the post-backslide Peter Jennings must in fairness concede, and should thank him for, an important role he played in proving the breadth and depth of the market for outlets for perspectives on the news beyond the cosmopolitan provinciality of the New York Times, which Jennings, Koppel, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and then MSNBC ultimately felt compelled to emulate.   Despite his flaws (surely no greater than, and likely far lesser than, my own), he played a vital, positive role in the gradual evolution of the broader balance available in the news media today.  

Peter Jennings-- Canadian Yankee.

The passing of Jennings this morn
leaves critics and backers to mourn
this naturalized Yank
who rose through our ranks
like many in Canada born.

'Twas Koppel and Jennings who raised
the ABC News from its grave
to rise to a challenge
for news less unbalanced--
a pathway they both helped to pave.

Though both may have back-slid into 
the Gray Lady's loyal me-toos,
it can't be denied
at first they defied
conventions of other me-toos.

Because they first rose to the challenge
of making the news less unbalanced,
a pathway they paved
for sources today
to counter Gray Lady's imbalance.

Our heartfelt condolence we're sending
to friends and the family of Jennings,
a transplanted Yank
who rose in our ranks
and strived to view fences for mending.
            Despite his perception of the many flaws in America, he also often manifested great insight into America's greatness.  Indeed, I remember a few years ago when this native Canadian so proudly announced his becoming an American citizen.  I'm saddened by his passing and extend my condolences to his family.  

 --Jim Wrenn, Editor at PoliSat.Com.

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P.S. from Editor:  

By the way, use the logo and link for "Take Back the Memorial" (right) for information about how you can support the effort to "Take Back" the 9-11 Memorial from the politically-correct crowd now planning to overshadow the Memorial with a "museum" chronicling the sins of America as though they were relevant to the current war against the medieval, totalitarian, perverted version of Islam being peddled by al Qaeda et al.



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Aug. 8, 2005 #01 Daily Update at PoliSat.Com, where satire is always commentary, but commentary isn't always satire

Title:  ABC's of Peter Jennings. 

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