The Triviality of Network Newspeople
When I grew up, there were three giants of network news: Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, and Peter Jennings. Each had held their job for over twenty years. I took for granted each election that I would turn on the television, and there they would be. When they stepped down (well, Jennings died), it was a pretty big deal about who would replace them. Charles Gibson, Katie Couric, and Brian Williams.
Gibson retired in 2009, Couric left in 2011, and it looks like Brian Williams is out (even if it’s technically a suspension). Brian Williams always struck me as the most lightweight of the three, and I don’t understand how he got the job when Stone Phillips was available. But to me, only Gibson had the “it” that I thought the Big Three (and, for that matter, Ted Koppel) had. Diane Sawyer, who replaced Gibson and who is also now gone, also had it.
I haven’t seen Sawyer’s successor, or Couric’s, for that matter. With the proliferation of cable news, I suppose it just doesn’t matter as much as it used to.
I previously likened this to the big annual Disney release. When I was a kid, it was always a big event what movie Disney would do next. Then along came Pixar and and the proliferation of media, and Disney movies came and went and just didn’t matter so much.
And with the proliferation of news outlets, Brian Williams getting suspended for six months is eclipsed by the host of a comedy and new parody show leaving.
I don’t know if this says more about the evolving business of news, our current culture, or that at some point the nakedness of the emperor just became a bit more obvious.