have the right to speak
just as much right to not listen
exercise all rights
Watching TV with my wife last night, she said she found it hard to believe that you could have two networks report the same news, the same facts, and yet, with entirely different stories and opinions.
She turned to me and asked, “was it always like that?”
‘No, no way,” I was quick to respond.
TV was regarded as much too powerful a medium to allow editorializing.
I said remember how whenever Howard K. Smith or John Chancellor had something to say and the word, “COMMENTARY”, would be superimposed across the bottom of the screen.
Now TV News follows the rule laid down by Charles Foster Kane in the movie, Citizen Kane, when he said, “If the headline is big enough, the news is big enough.”
In age of 24 hour news, something has to fill those 24 hours.
Some how the news has to be big enough fill all those hours.
Or at least the voices and the talking heads.
I think of that monologue of Jeff Daniels in the HBO Series, The Newsroom, when he says, “We waged wars on poverty, not on poor people.
We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were and we never beat our chest.
We built great, big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases and we cultivated the world’s greatest artists AND the world’s greatest economy.
We reached for the stars, acted like men.
We aspired to intelligence, we didn’t belittle it. It didn’t make us feel inferior.
We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election and we didn’t scare so easy.
We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed … by great men, men who were revered.
Informed by people.
People who were revered.
Cronkite, Chancellor and Edward R. Murrow types.
But along with the people who kept us informed, the audience was informed.
The audience cared.
The audience had influence.
After Walter Cronkite summed up his trip to Vietnam at the end of his CBS Special Report, Report from Vietnam: Who, What, When, Where, Why? with a rare editorial report (Feburary 27, 1968) and he said the war was unwinnable.
According to legend and the historical record, President Lyndon Johnson watched the program and said, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.”
LBJ knew if he lost Middle America, he lost.
He announced he would not seek re-election within weeks of the show.
There is so much noise.
To quote the Grinch, “Its the Noise! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!”
I understand this is America.
This is the land of the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
This is the land where “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.”
There is no law, no amendment, nothing that says, I have to listen.
I have a remote control and I use it!