Thursday, November 18, 2021

Genius

 

Every once in a while, the planets align and perfection is the result.  It happened 40 years ago, "This Week."

Sunday marked the 40th anniversary of "This Week with David Brinkley."  The format was blessedly simple.  The broadcast was a mix of a look back at the last week,  and a look ahead to the upcoming week.  It began some news headlines, things that happened after the Sunday papers were printed.  Remember, there was no internet in 1981.  Then, it was a set up piece on the week's big story.  An interview with a newsmaker involved in that story followed.  A round table discussion occupied most of the second half hour.  The broadcast ended with a Brinkley wry commentary.  It was a solid broadcast and Brinkley was the guy who brought it all together.

The top brass at ABC didn't want to hire Brinkley.  They thought he was too old.  Brinkley wanted out at NBC.  As he put it, there was nothing left to do there.  The network stuck him with a Friday night magazine show that got creamed in the ratings by "Dallas."   NBC had imported some managers from CBS.  They didn't see eye to eye with Brinkley and disrespect was the result.  It was a terrible way to treat someone who helped put NBC News on the map.  No dignity.  No respect.  ABC News president Roone Arledge thought David Brinkley was the right man for the new Sunday morning broadcast, and like most things, Arledge was right.  Brinkley brought instant credibility.

The show stumbled after Brinkley's retirement.  Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts were great round table panelists.  Hosting was another story.  ABC News then tried to take the emphasis off Washington and it hired Christiane Amanpour.  She is a competent broadcaster and a brilliant journalist, but she wasn't a good fit for "This Week."  George Stephanopoulos is fine, even though he isn't in the host's chair most weeks.

I watched the 40th anniversary broadcast Sunday morning.  There was disappointment over only ten minutes dedicated to the anniversary, but the geek in me adored the display of old ABC News logos on the ticker over the anchor desk.

Even though David Brinkley retired decades ago, "This Week" is still a Sunday must, and I still call the broadcast "Brinkley."