I first met Seymour Berns over forty years ago while I was at CBS and Seymour was producing and directing the Red Skelton Show. We often worked together until his death many years later. He and his wife Annie became my dear friends, and we all shared some great times.
Seymour would tell me regularly about presenting ideas for programs to studio and network executives only to have them reply; "No Seymour that will never work." The person saying that did not know if it would or not, yet saying that is what they did. Had Norman Lear suggested the same Idea, you can bet that he would have received a different answer.
I would comment positively when presented with program ideas if I thought that we could afford to produce it and if I thought that we could sell it in that I knew that I didn't know if it would work or not.
The "that will never work" line is spoken more often in Movies and Television meetings then hello and goodbye. It is said that if you regularly say no to projects that you will be proven to be right far more often then you are wrong. My consistently not very humble opinion, along with writer William Goldman is something like: "no one really knows" and high up among the "no ones" is me. I once told the President of Columbia Pictures that I was going to risk several million dollars on a television project and that I did not have the slightest idea if it would "work or not" and he was shocked.
And now, the rest of the story!
A brilliant Barack Obama will soon be our President, and be confronted with a series of his predecessor's problems that threaten our nation's prosperity and peace.
The preponderance of our media and our congress stood mostly mute as President Bush lied in order to march us off to a horrid war in Iraq, and then trash our constitution. That would include those pillars of journalistic integrity at NBC, MSNBC, and CNBC, (General Electric) CNN (Time Warner) ABC (The Walt Disney Company) Fox News and Fox Network (News Corp) and CBS (Viacom/CBS.) The majority of our print media cowered as well.
In my opinion these companies were intimidated by our President, and were not prepared to take issue with the administration about the war and in fact anything else. If the Feds control the "process" it must be difficult for General Electric et al to be critical of them.
There is a new group of people who are making monumental decisions in Washington, and all of the media will face a new set of challenges.
As I watch these purported purveyors of "news" all become primarily the "interviewers" of each other featuring their own version of "that will never work" concerning our new president's policies and his hires. These guys are NOT in the business of providing news and information but rather are in the business of aggregating a large audience to be sold to advertisers. When did you ever hear "them" acknowledge "that?"
The delivery of real news is a secondary consideration to most of us broadcast and cable organizations.
This is a direct quote from NBC News:
Not every Republican is trying to sound positive about the coming stimulus package outlined today by the president-elect, Viqueira noted. While Mitch McConnell and John Boehner are doing their best to maintain an air of bipartisanship and not rejecting the emerging plan out of hand, the incoming head of the House conservative caucus is calling the plan, such as it is, "not only ineffective, but nonsensical."
Translating these words into simple English, it means that these Republicans are saying "this will never work."
While Republicans are vilifying the plans and staffing by President elect Obama, the Democrats are once again demonstrating their unique ability to "eat their young."
Dianne Feinstein initially criticized Obama's pick of Leon Panetta to head the CIA. Why did she do this one might ask? Apparently Obama did not consult with her first about the selection. Can you imagine that our country is collapsing and Diane Feinstein is "miffed?"
And now Senate Democrats questioning various parts of Obama's stimulus plan. The only real trouble Republicans appear to be giving Obama right now is over Eric Holder's nomination for attorney general, but you can bet that they will soon mount serious objections to whatever our new President suggests.
And now here is my meaningless suggestion to the Democrats and their "leadership."
If any or all of you have a problem with what our soon to be Presidents policies or people, call or contact the President and express your concern, but PLEASE keep your face off MSNBC, CNN, FoxNews and the non-news networks who will merely use you to throw another monkey-wrench into the process.
I have recently revisited a list of those who did run for the office of President of the United States and could not find the names Chris Mathews, Wolf Blitzer, or Bill O'reilly anywhere. The cable News Networks MSNBC, CNN. And FNC have in my opinion the obligation to regularly announce when their "news" ends and their "editorials" begin. They carefully blend one into the other.
I often refer to the NBC News head Steve Capus who said that he was terminating Don Imus to in some way protect the long standing integrity of NBC News. The real bad news is that he undoubtedly believed what he was saying. In order to protect that integrity Mr. Capus, you must, in my opinion clearly label news and commentary on your Cable News Networks, and report much more real news. Sir, what became of the integrity in reporting the Presidents lies as it pertained to war and his minor Constitutional violations? Had you done that, it would have made Huntley/Brinkley, Walter Cronkite, Ed Murrow and many others proud.
Our country is rapidly sinking into an economic abyss, and whining PUBLICLLY about our own "this will not work" stuff will only impede the process. The Republicans will supply the President with enough grief, and the Democrats and the media need not help them.
In my business and in my personal life it has been difficult to learn the "if you want to disagree with your management, do it quietly, discretely, and directly to those involved and do not seek the alliances of your associates in order to weaken the position of your management.
Older people will remember the cigarette advertising slogan of "I'd walk a mile for a Camel."
The slogan of most politicians is "I'd walk a mile to be on Television."