She’s leaving. What a shame. What a pity.
Can I make a confession? I think that Barbara Walters is largely responsible for the sad state of our news media. She started the trend that became the norm: news that focuses on the scandal, the people, the intrigue instead of the, ummmm, news.
Yup, I lay it all on Baba.
Before Baba, TV news was above the fray. Remember Cronkite? Huntley/Brinkley? Howard K. Smith and Harry Reasoner? News was news. It focused on what happened. On the event and its place in the current day and its context in history in a serious way. It was informative, not entertaining. And that, I believe, is how it should be. Because news is serious business and it should be treated as such. Is it today? I don’t think so. Had Barbara Walters never existed, I honestly don’t think we could have the clowns at Fox — or on the left either. News was news and sitcoms and variety shows took care of entertainment.
Since Baba, news has been completely people-focused. Everything is personality – nothing is action. I think that is very wrong.
Since Baba, news-folk have looked for the scandal, for the tears in the story — instead of the story itself. No story is complete without tears. Without scandal. Without some personality saying or doing something that can then be replayed, discussed, analyzed as if that matters more than the results of their actions.
Of course I’m biased.
I knew Harry Reasoner, slightly. One of his kids was (and is) a close friend of mine. So I was in and out of his house growing up. He was a great dad – involved but not intrusive. Interested. Humorous – very humorous.
I hung around his house when the folks in the Nixon White House took a particular dislike to him. That alone is a feather in his cap.
I hung around his house when he became anchor of the ABC Evening News.
[I once arrived at his front door in full makeup for a play – I had to borrow a prop from his daughter. My makeup consisted of dirt, smeared on my face, a torn dress – a rag, really. Bare, dirty feet. He and his wife met me at the front door in formal attire – they were having a seriously fancy party. His comment was classic: “Why Elyse," he said with a delighted chuckle (having already seen the play), "you dressed so nicely for our party! Thanks for coming!” Mortified, I ran upstairs hopefully without being seen by the crowd of Who’s Who in the living room.
I hung around his house when Baba joined him. And when he went back to 60 minutes.
I had few substantive conversations with Mr. Reasoner. I never tried to learn the scoop. In fact, it was only years later that I understood what had happened to him.
Harry Reasoner was not, from everything I ever saw, a sexist. He was a newsman who cared about words and integrity and getting the facts, ma’am. He believed that the news should be the story. Not the person who deliverd the news He believed in getting the story right and in writing well. In letting the event tell the story.
Baba Wawa is retiring – at least in part.
But today will be her last time on “The View.” But in the way she has done for five decades, Baba Wawa makes herself the story. And that is a huge part of the problem she created in the news industry. The story should be the news. Not the journalist. Of course, Baba has been milking this retirement. She has been for a year now, and will for another year or so. Probably until she dies. Because, of course, Baba is the story don’t cha see.
She’s leaving. What a shame. Don’t let the screen door hit you on your way out.