Anchors have become the brand, readers, for stories that other producers and reporters uncover. The problem with Brian Williams is that he is a storyteller. The ability to tell a story is very important in every reporter and writer's life. But, Williams did not have the background in reporting and writing to temper his tall tales.
Last week, the news profession lost three of its leading lights -- Bob Simon and David Carr to sudden and unexpected death and Brian Williams to a six-month suspension. In our shock and sadness we are drawn to ask ourselves some serious questions about the state of the news media today.
After nearly 16 years, comedian Jon Stewart is leaving the reins of The Daily Show. Recently, a number of comic hosts have left long-term late-night gigs, but barely a blip on the giggle continuity screen. I mean, Stewart's departure is not like Walter Cronkite signing off. On second thought, it's exactly the same.
This week, Jon Stewart announced his retirement from The Daily Show. He'll be missed -- not just because he was funny, but because he told the truth in an era when much of the media wouldn't. Later that same night, 60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon was killed in a car accident. "There was nothing simple about Bob Simon," said Anderson Cooper. "Except that he was simply the best." The next day, David Carr collapsed and died in the New York Times newsroom. The grace and wisdom he earned the hard way suffused his generous spirit. He never sugar-coated his insights, especially about recovery and redemption. "We all walk this earth feeling we are frauds," he wrote. "The trick is to be grateful and hope the caper doesn't end any time soon." Sadly, with David and Bob Simon, it ended much too soon.
Why do some people in the media announce months, maybe a year or a year plus in advance that they will be leaving their jobs on TV? What happened to just finishing your contract (as agreed to) and just going? I don't get it. Why the big fanfare? Is this more of the media and its "me, me and me" mentality?
Whatever the case, Brian Williams' downfall is symptomatic of our culture. No doubt Williams felt compelled to spiff up his newscasts.
Like it or not, lying serves an important function. It's the glue that holds society together. It sustains careers, keeps marriages intact, fuels wars, sells billions of dollars of goods, and spares the more sensitive among us the devastating hurt that often accompanies the awful truth.
I was informed of Jon Stewart's retirement from The Daily Show by an NPR news alert, which was swiftly followed by a deluge of texts, emails, and Facebook messages from friends. They were concerned about how I was coping with the news.
Stewart took the reins of The Daily Show as a goofy parody of local news, and turned it into something smart, influential and useful. It transcended mere entertainment. And it has done its job.
As someone who's concerned about the public dialogue, and especially concerned about conservative misinformation, the news of Stewart's pending exit is troubling. It's particularly dismaying coming on the heels of Stephen Colbert's recent departure from Comedy Central.
We hear a lot about "teaching moments" and "life lessons," but do we really know them when we see them? By honoring our heroes and promulgating their brave stories, we can be reminded of the ancient Greek's definition of "citizen."
Gone are the days of Cronkite, Rather, Brokaw, Jennings, Sawyer, and now Williams. Mark your calendars: Tuesday, February 10, 2015, ended the era of the celebrity, legacy news anchor.
Even as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert lay down the weapons of satire, even as they cease and desist from slashing away at the monstrous inanities of American politics, Arab TV producers have begun to attack ISIS with something its militants fear even more than airstrikes: ridicule.
Following Jon Stewart's announcement that he will leave Comedy Central's The Daily Show, Reality announced it will be acquiring Satire in a $100 billion deal. "We're finally making official what Mr. Stewart has made obvious for years," said Reality spokesperson Kyle Dorchanter.
I was able to sleep more peacefully because of my soul mate Jon. Okay, I also had a relationship with Stephen Colbert who was like the wacky genius uncle of the family. They forever changed the way we get our news, and they redefined TV truth.
The most important element of comedy is timing -- and in Israel, comedy and timing can be friends or they can be foes. No matter how funny the election campaign videos are, we live in a serious, disastrous neighborhood, and sometimes the reality calls for seriousness.