All COVID Newscasts Underserving America


If one only receives their news via the evening broadcasts from the three main networks it is most likely there is no awareness about a long list of international events that are shaping regions of the world.  I am clearly aware of the enormity of the COVID-19 pandemic and the many tentacles it has on all parts of the nation.  I am also aware of the need to report and juggle events within the roughly 22 minutes allotted for the nightly broadcasts.  But it also goes without saying that news programming needs to adapt during this time of pandemic so the events from Poland to Hong Kong also get covered.

If everyone read a morning newspaper there would be less reason to find concern about the absence from ABC, CBS, or NBC about events that not only impact large swaths of the world but also impact international policy decisions our nation is then required to make.  A well-informed citizenry aids in shaping our national discussion on the issues which our leaders will then be offering a response.

I wrote about the actions nations like China, North Korea, and Iran have been undertaking over the past months, as they hoped a pandemic and the lack of ability from our president would allow them to get away with their long-held desires.  In April I summed up a post entry with these two paragraphs.

There is  no doubt that international players are watching the United States very closely as this pandemic takes hold of the country.  They are most conscious about the lack of leadership exhibited from this White House.  It is troubling to see so many rogue players and confrontational nations seeming to wish to take moves that run counter to international norms.

While there is a lack of credible leadership in the White House there will be those who take advantage of the existing circumstances. At the fringes that is what we are seeing play out on the world stage. It is not something we can dismiss, and it is not something that the television news media in this nation should fail to report.  We need to be aware of international events, even during a pandemic.

A most draconian national security law imposed by Beijing has left Hong Kong in a most perilous position.  Those living in the city can now be jailed for life for vaguely defined laws.  What China deems “subversive” can mean not only a citizen of the city can be forced to the mainland for trial but jailed for decades over the most bizarre of reasons.

A truly important election is taking place this weekend in Poland, where the outcome could signal the beginning of the end of right-wing and illiberal democratic governments in Eastern Europe. (Illiberal democracy is a topic of importance on CP)  Those who follow the trend lines over the past years can attest to the dangerous outcomes for democracy when the press is vilified, courts turn out rulings dictated by oppressive rulers, and human rights are tossed aside like old bread.  Warsaw Mayor Trzaskowski is seeking to remove the right-wing incumbent President Duda.   The outcome is vital to the international tide of democracy that needs restoration.

If a news story on a major network started out with the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, when completed, being nearly twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty and as wide as the Brooklyn Bridge is long or that the reservoir behind it is roughly the size of London, viewers would pay attention. Once operating the dam will be the largest hydro-electric project in Africa.  It will produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity, but a massive dispute with Egypt and Ethiopia and Sudan has prompted threats of war and concerns about a future conflict over water resources under pressure because of climate change.

The world is filled with these types of news stories that we need to know about and with newspapers and newsmagazines, many people are better informed.  But there is a huge swath of the public who rely upon television network news for their source of information.  And that demographic is not prone to tune in to PBS’ NewsHour.  So it is incumbent that the three main networks find a better use of the time allotted to them in the evening.

Increasing the length of their national newscast is not an option due to the importance of local advertisers to affiliates around the nation.  Going without advertisers on the national broadcast would add about 8 minutes of content.  If there would be just a cold opening without a playlist of upcoming stories, and also jettisoning the ‘feel good’ story at the end of each broadcast would add at least 3 minutes of airtime for actual news content.

There must be a better way to inform those who tune in to the evening broadcasts and rely on it for most of their knowledge about the world. The recent past underscores why there needs to be a better-informed citizenry, which then allows for a better performing electorate.

And so it goes.

Conservatives Jumping The Shark

When one wishes to underline the moment when there is no question of the decline about a person, a movement, or an event it can be summed up with ‘jumping the shark’.  That harkens back to an ABC comedy of my youth, Happy Days, when Fonzie jumps a shark on water skies.   It was a telling moment about what happens when, in that case, a television network did not appreciate that shows need to have a definite shelf-life.

This morning come two glaring examples of conservatives who are not aware they are souring, spoiling, and decaying while in front of the public.

Disgraced television evangelist Jim Bakker said on the air in front of an audience Donald Trump is a test of faith for those of the Christian faith.  As soon as I heard that line the large red mental question mark in my head went off.


“You know what? Trump is a test whether you’re even saved. Only saved people can love Trump.”

Here I was sure only those with a marriage license to their cousin loved Trump.

Even some of Bakker’s audience laughed at his remark, and I think one even threw up a little in his mouth.

Not to be outdone for shocking stupidity yesterday was Rush Limbaugh, who I rarely hear anything about anymore.

Trump, who spends much of his mornings in the White House residence watching his conservative pals on FAUX News placed a call into the Rush Limbaugh Show and briefly discussed the Mueller report:

Trump: Even I was impressed with how clean I am, Rush.

Limbaugh: You may be cleaner than any previous president we can think of. 

Add 300 pounds to Fonzie in the photo below to mimic Rush, or a sanctimonious grin for Bakker and we have the news picture of the morning.



Cokie Roberts Brought Institutional Memory Front And Center With Reporting


It seems that Cokie Roberts has always been a part of my life.  Always a journalist and author who contributed to the national discussion about the times we live, while adding context with the lessons from the past.  Her institutional memory was such that she was a joy to listen to as she weaved the present with the past.

Today it was announced that Cokie Roberts, the daughter of politicians who grew up to cover the family business in Washington for ABC News and NPR over several decades, died Tuesday in Washington of complications from breast cancer. She was 75.  

Her life story is known to most people who follow news and media.  Her dad was Hale Boggs, a former House majority leader from Louisiana, and mom was Lindy Boggs, who succeeded her husband in Congress. She worked in radio and at CBS News and PBS before joining ABC News in 1988.  In addition, she was a congressional reporter and analyst who co-anchored the Sunday political show ‘‘This Week’’ with Sam Donaldson from 1996 to 2002.

Roberts, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002, kept working nearly to the end. She appeared on ‘‘This Week’’ in August, drawing enough concern about her evident weight loss that she released a statement saying ‘‘I am doing fine’’ and was looking forward to covering next year’s election.

It was most obvious from the public offerings that she never became cynical or lost her love for politics.  From the rich tapestry of a family steeped in politics, I suspest there never was a fear about that happening.   All the same, it was wonderful how she made politics always seem like a continuous journey we can watch unfold, but also when times call for action, take time to shout out a warning.

As she did in 2016 when writing a column calling on ‘‘the rational wing’’ of the Republican party to reject Donald Trump as their presidential candidate.  She did so using that long arm of history as her guide, and also a moral compass about the needs of the nation.

Her interest in history and understanding of it allowed her to write several books about the role of women in our nation.  Founding Mothers is simply an essential read if one wishes to have any grasp of the power and necessity of Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Dolly Madison, and Esther Reed.  I would highly recommend the read.

We have lost a mighty fine reporter and a seasoned voice in our nation with her death.  But we can honestly say it was so much fun to have had her as a part of the journalism profession, doing the work that needs to be done in a republic.

Godspeed, Cokie.

Doug Limerick, ABC Radio Correspondent, Retiring

Everyone has heard this man’s voice.


Doug Limerick has been a part of radio for the past three decades.  When I worked at WDOR, and we were part of the ABC network, it was Limerick who reported the news broadcasts at the top of the hour.  Professional voice with timely and well-written scripts.    He delivered over 100,000 newscasts.

Most never saw his face, but millions knew his voice.   The power of radio is still remarkable.

I timed many a comment, or weather report, or music to end on the second his newscasts started at the top of the hour.    Those days still make me smile.

ABC News Radio correspondent and two-time Edward R. Murrow award winner Doug Limerick is retiring Dec. 18, announced ABC News Radio vp and general manager Steve Jones in a note to staff.

Limerick’s career at ABC News Radio spans 33 years, beginning in 1982 when he moved there from WRQX. “Doug has had an amazing career,” writes Jones, retracing a path that began when Limerick was 16:

He started as a 16-year old DJ on a one-thousand watt radio station in Shelby, NC (WOHS). During college at Wake Forest, Doug spun records and then entered the Air Force where he was a Russian linguist. After serving his country, Doug got a job playing records in Monroe, N.C. After his shifts, he used to check in on the community to learn what was happening. His interest in news developed and he landed his first news job with the Palmetto Radio Network in South Carolina.

Intrigue At ABC As Diane Sawyer Leaves Evening News Broadcast

There is always an interest to be found with the way people are promoted and moved into the major broadcast positions.   With Diane Sawyer leaving ABC World News this September, and David Muir taking over meant that some more details on who was not making anchor would make news.

Late last year there were reports that Sawyer did not want Stephanopoulos to replace her as “World News” anchor, even though he was believed to have a clause in his contract assuring him the role should she step down. Stephanopoulos signed a new deal with ABC News earlier this year. David Muir has long been rumored to be the favorite inside ABC to follow Sawyer, with the New York Post’s Richard Johnson reporting in March that Muir would get the top job, but that he would have to wait for Sawyer to step down to do so.

Is George Stephanopoulos Embarrassed Over Show’s Guest Dealing With Gov. Christie Mess?

I am quite sure Edward Murrow would not have made such a cheesy choice for a major news show.

This Sunday, “This Week” has complete coverage breaking down the fallout over the bridge scandal engulfing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, plus crisis management expert Judy Smith, the inspiration behind the hit ABC show “Scandal.”

Broadcasting Trivia: President Kennedy Network Coverage

All three networks were stretched to the limit on personnel and equipment during the time of coverage of the shooting of President Kennedy. It was sign on till sign off on CBS and ABC, but NBC fed a live signal around the clock on Saturday and Sunday with a camera trained on President Kennedy’s casket lying in state at both the White House and Capital. The FCC was very liberal with sign on and sign off rules during this time with both TV and radio.

Another Winner From Debate Was Martha Raddatz Of ABC News

The consensus around the nation is that Martha Raddatz was a winner at the debate.  Let’s hope that Candy Crowley and Bob Schieffer at least follow her example, and I suspect they will, in the final two debates between the presidential candidates.

Martha Raddatz of ABC News didn’t ask puffy questions like Jim Lehrer did at the presidential debate. Or let the candidates get away with vague non-answers, as Jim Lehrer did.

Ms. Raddatz acted like a working journalist instead of a television personality from her first question, on Ambassador Stevens’ death: “It was a pre-planned assault by heavily armed men,” she said. “Wasn’t this a massive intelligence failure, Vice President Biden?”

Ms. Raddatz showed a consistent willingness to call the candidates on their “malarkey,” as the Vice President put it. When Mr. Ryan said he could cut taxes without reducing the deficit by eliminating loopholes, but didn’t actually mention which loopholes, she drew attention to his evasiveness: “No specifics, again.”

And she refused to let Mr. Ryan ignore her question about his ticket’s plan to increase the defense budget. By my count, she returned to that point six times, culminating with the rather sharp: “I want to know how you do the math and have this increase in defense spending?”