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Journalism My Ass

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It was in the early eighties that I continued to demonstrate my inability to discern a proper career choice for myself.

I resigned from Columbia Pictures, a sin in those days punishable by threats to my future well being from their senior management, and started a television company for the then giant music company, Polygram.

For a variety of now irrelevant reasons, we decided to create a program with the then RKO General stations called "Eric Sevareid's Chronicle," produced by my dear friend Seymour Berns.

I screened the first program of the series that had Eric narrating this weekly documentary program, and then commenting on the subject matter, and was not thrilled with what I saw.

Before continuing with this, it is my belief that comments and suggestions as to entertainment content by people like me is absolutely what screws up the process, but I do digress.

Moving along, I suggested to Seymour that he have a discussion with Eric and ask him to be more critical and forceful with his commentary. Seymour suggested that perhaps I was losing my mind and if I wanted that done I should do it myself.

A week or two later, Seymour, Eric and I had lunch, and of course before I brought up the dreaded subject, Seymour excused himself feigning a prior commitment.

I began the discussion by diminishing myself in telling Eric that my news and journalistic experience was essentially meaningless, and that I held him and his career at CBS in the highest regard. I explained that his show was essentially sold to individual stations throughout our country, and that there was to be NO editorial control whatsoever, and I wanted him to know that his "commentary" could be as outrageous and blunt as he chose to make it.

Making what could be a long story short, (not easy for me,) Eric told me that was never under ANY restrictions concerning his commentaries at CBS News. I am sure that he was sincere in his belief; however I suggested that CBS provided an invisible box around him and as long as he stayed within it, everything was just fine.

Eric did tell me that he was only criticized by his news management four times in his career for being overly zealous in his commentaries. I thought that this was very odd in that I thought that had he been outspoken in his role that he would have been chastised more often then that.

Eric continued to do Eric, the program lasted one season, and no one was EVER upset by anything Eric said in any of his commentaries.

In my not so humble opinion, almost all, (if not ALL) US Broadcast Network on air "journalists," are later day versions of Sevareid, and report, "within the same invisible box" that constrained Sevareid.

I would suggest that: Katie Couric, Brian Williams, Charles Gibson, Bob Schieffer, Tim Russert, and George Stephanapoulos spend a day or two watching and listening to Video tapes of Stephen Colbert, Keith Olbermann, and Jon Stewart. I would expect that none of these guys would claim to be "journalists" yet they all do political commentary all the time.

Why is it on cable that their "commentaries" are far more critical about everything and everyone then the over the air broadcasters?

You need not be a journalist to be the "teller of truth."

Our country DESPARATELY needs perspectives on issues that concern the populace, and all they get as an example is The Administration Spokesperson Of the Week, doing the Sunday talk circuit knowing that they will NEVER be challenged in a meaningful manner.

When the Presidents remarks are carried on the network news it would be a good thing if each network had a "Sevareid" to comment on what the President said.

NO ONE IN NETWORK TELEVISION WILL TELL AMERICA THAT THE STUFF BEING DONE BY THIS ADMINISTRATION IS HORRID IN SO MANY WAYS.

Why not? Certainly it is about money and power, but sadly in this situation, apparently not about sex.

It would be interesting to most Americans if for at least one week, we replaced all of the purported journalists listed above with REAL news people from television in the UK. These guys are tough, and would make their American counterparts look silly and powerless.

Politicians should be afraid of Journalists, and not be their friends.

Stations are to act "in the public interest, convenience, and necessity" whatever that means, and I wonder how the networks maintain that they do that, even a little bit?

Norman Horowitz
Never a journalist