Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Under Appreciated

I really love broadcasting history, and because of that, the documentary series currently running on CNN, The Seventies, is a real kick.  The producers use news clips from the time to illustrate the events of the decade.  It's an effective, and rather entertaining way to narrate the timeline.

Regular blog readers know I was a huge David Brinkley fan.  There was no better writer on TV, and I point to his commentaries on the night of the Kennedy assassination, and a piece done at the end of a Vietnam documentary as proof.  His closing pieces were one of the highlights of This Week on ABC.

Today, two guys I feel never received their due as America's great news anchors.  Both have been popping up regularly on The Seventies, especially the hour devoted to The State of the Union.
The first is Frank Reynolds.  He was an ABC correspondent and anchor in the 60's.  He delivered one of the best lines ever, on his last night, before being replaced by Harry Reasoner in 1970.  Reynolds did a nightly commentary.  He said, at one time, he hoped his commentaries had not offended anyone.  Reynolds added he then gave it more thought and backed away because "there are people who ought to be bothered."  It was a great line.  So true.

It was once said the role of a journalist is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.  We need to get back to that.

Frank Reynolds became one of three World News Tonight anchors in the late 70's.  The president of the news division, Roone Arledge, always wanted a star anchor.  He tried hard to get Dan Rather, but the lure of Cronkite's chair was too much.  Arledge also made a push to get Tom Brokaw.  He settled on Reynolds because he couldn't land that major star.  All Frank Reynolds did was lead a solid report, night after night, until his death in 1983.
The other is John Chancellor over at NBC.  I didn't fully appreciate him until looking back at old videos, in recent years.  We were a Cronkite household growing up.

Anyway, look at Chancellor's resume.  It's impressive.  The man paid his dues, especially in Europe.  It showed on international coverage.  People often fawn over Peter Jennings' command of world affairs, and rightfully so.  John Chancellor was just as good, if not better.

Chancellor could be dry at times, and a little too college professorial for some.  I get that.  But, he was also a very smart man.  Watch him on election night archives.  Politics was his game, too.  One other thing also jumped out at me.  John Chancellor was great at setting up NBC correspondents, and he always made sure he was never bigger than the story.

John Chancellor died in 1996.

YouTube is a great resource.  News junkies and even non news junkies should go back from time to tome and see the way things used to be, when we were informed by some great people.  Some, were very underrated.