18 thoughts on “Where was Ted Koppel’s Indignation When … ?

  1. I try not to spend more than fifteen minutes writing anything…thus my speedy response to events of the moment, and the loose logic that accompanies same. If I were turning out finely-crafted 10,000-word entries like yourself I’d get nowhere. Plus, I can’t match your when-I-last-spoke-to-Koppel name-dropping aplomb. And anyway, I’m not doing any heavy lifting until I get one of those really big photos like you have…complete with your own goddamn logo for chrissakes. Whose ass do I have to kiss? And why doesn’t Jason DeRusha know who I am? I am not a potted plant here.

    1. Did I ever tell you about the time Murrow and I drank absinthe on the rooftops of Mayfair during the Blitz?

      What’s a “DeRusha”?

      As for a photo. I got a camera for you right here. You will work topless, right?

    2. I had no idea you and Keliher had such fragile egos as to be left out of my well-researched and deeply reported list of best Twin Cities Blogs. I’ll go in and update it, so you can take your rightful place along the lady with the cat blog and the dude with pictures swiped from Flickr.

  2. You’re confused. It was me who had martinis with Murrow at the Ritz during the liberation of Paris. You were on a junket in Hollywood doing tequila shots with John Huston.

    As for my portrait…I think I’d like to be photographed in uniform. I’ll need a few months to squeeze back into it.

  3. Frogster says:

    It’s been demonstrated by now that establishment journalists like Koppel are not going to move far from the political center; such objectivity becomes laughable when the center moves so far to the right that a so-called liberal, but establishment, outfit like NPR asserts that, yes, it actually is debatable whether waterboarding is torture, history be damned. Olbermann’s response to Koppel was excellent.

    1. I was planning to work in MPR’s “No rant, No Slant” marketing tag. But I gotta save something for another day.

      Also on the cutting room floor yesterday, in the context of “serious news” vs. the gassy opinionators — the release of that USA Today staffing breakdown that shows they have FIVE TIMES more people covering entertainment than Congress.

      Oh, and last night’s NBC news, with TWO segments on the announcement of the next royal wedding.

      I’d say “Murrow would puke”, but he lifted a lot of celebrity twittery for CBS.

      1. Great…a 1,500-word comment enumerating stuff you left out of your latest doorstop-worthy posting. Now I really feel like a piker, or would if I weren’t regularly beating Austin’s output.

  4. John Gaterud says:

    Parachute journalism by bigfoot guys like Ted Koppel leaves great deal to be desired, but (despite his own blowhard tendencies) at least he got/gets out of the office once in a while—unlike other bloviator-gasbags (radio, TV, print, Web) who never venture far to poke around the corner, let alone display a modicum of storyteller’s curiosity about this/that/the other. Conjures great Murray Kempton line about editorial writers: those who ride down from the hills after battle to shoot the wounded; it ain’t heavy lifting. Fill ____ with name(s) of your favorite commentator(s), as appropriate.

    Late media critic Michael Kirkhorn liked to cite Dan Rather’s infamous 1980 foray into Afghanistan as one institutional shortcoming: that is, how time (or, rather, its lack) compresses “expectations” of what news is (vs. what it could be). “Gunga Dan” filing from abroad for three months, for instance, would have produced something quite different than what he reported in three days. Obvious, perhaps, but Kirkhorn’s point goes to heart of much of this ongoing Rowdy discussion, it seems: the story always lies far beneath the surface. Rachel Maddow in Iraq? It kinda looked like journalism, I guess (she wore epaulets, right?). At least she went somewhere for a few days, unlike the others (fill ____ ) content to spew nightly from their bunkers.

    As to Brian’s point re Koppel, time again to haul out the Stone (I.F.): “The Establishment reporters know a lot of things I don’t know, but a lot of what they do know isn’t true—and a lot of what they know is true they can’t [or won’t] print.”

    Conversely (or in parallel…can’t figure which), see Exhibit B: Judith Miller.

    Hard-won stories retreat farther from popular view, but they’re still out there to be found. Reporters like Mark Danner or filmmakers like Charles Ferguson (“Inside Job”)—inspired by ghosts of Stone and Halberstam—keep rattling the cage.

    Question is, who cares?

    1. The “who cares” part is also interesting, in that, as many surveys show, truly curious news consumers have since moved beyond a simple diet of their morning paper and the networks’ evening news. Point being that they want to understand “what this all means” at least as much as “who said what”.

      Koppel’s career was devoted to enhancing basic reporting. i give him that. But there was another step beyond. The responsibility to say, “this is true, that is false” … WHEN POSSIBLE.

      1. John Gaterud says:

        Once heard NPR’s Tom Gjelten eloquently (and authoritatively) argue during a public lecture with a pro-Serbian sympathizer (post-Sarajevo seige), flat-out telling this guy “the real story” about “alleged” Serb atrocities, among other things. Having been stationed in the Balkans in early 1990s, Gjelten knew the lay of land and apparently felt no need to temper his remarks with some kind of pretense of journalistic “restraint.” He’d been there, knew the players, understood the scene. For audience members, I suspect, the exchange was enlightening and refreshing, as Gjelten was clearly making a moral point—occupying what Kirkhorn argued is indeed “virtuous” ground for any journalist.

        Attention as a moral quality, Kirkhorn called it.

        Whether Gjelten’s on-air reporting in the years since—including both Gulf wars, plus later foreign-affairs beats—has reflected that same kind of “attention,” including when necessary publicly expressing skepticism when internal alarms sounded, I hesitate to say—because he, like so many other mainstream journalists, also seem trapped by the institutional command to report whatever any “official” says (among classic defintions of news).

        But I always appreciated that moment when he used insights gained as a journalist to speak “the truth” when the bell rang. Likewise, with reporters Chris Hedges and Mark Danner, and photographer James Nachtwey, among others.

  5. Mike Kennedy says:

    Good reading and some thoughtful post

    There really is no excuse today not to do your own homework.

    It used to be that informed people would buy several newspapers and peruse them, maybe tune in some radio and TV news and lug around their book or books.

    That was a little cumbersome. Now, you can read through stories in the WSJ, Wash. Post or NYT and then take a quick look at Real Clear Politics and Real Clear Markets or the all encompassing site PM looks at or whatever. Then you can skip to Foreign Affairs, The Economist or whatever you like and even catch network or cable news highlights online. Ditto for books, either downloading them off internet, Kindle, Nook, I-Pad or God forbid, hold and caress the real thing (the book, I mean).

    It is more centrally located, quicker to find, and you’re not stuck with one paper or two or limited to what you can see.

    This is all predicated on people having the ambition to do so. The process has been simplified, but it’s still work to keep up and stay informed. That part will never be easy.

  6. john sherman says:

    Nostalgia is only available to those who weren’t old enough to have been there or who were there and have very poor memories. Ed Murrow, God love him for doing Harvest of Shame and calling out Joe McCarthy, also did a puke inducing series where he went around visiting, and sucking up to, the super rich: “This is a nice castle you have here.” “We like it, Ed.”

    Before Cronkeit flipped a lot of the U.S. news was well behind the people in the streets; I got a lot of my news from the British Guardian and the English language edition of Le Monde; before the web it was a real pain in the ass to get foreign press reports, but you could do it.

    A point Koppel misses is the dominance of access whoring in the last decade. It was Karl Rove’s peculiar genius to take something that was bad and make it truly horrible. There had been access whores at least since Teddy White, but Rove turned it into the defining mode. And it was great for reporters, they just had to write what their anonymous, but highly placed, sources told them, and they could turn in their copy and make David Broder’s dinner party where they could hear what George said to Cokie–the other source of Village wisdom. Of course, they couldn’t burn a source for lying to them because then the source would not lie to them again, and what would they do for news?

    An idea I want to try out. How about a rule concerning the debate over $250K+ tax breaks: every time some pundit or media bigfoot discusses the subject on t.v. a crawl should come on listing his or her income. Isn’t it a possible conflict of interest when somebody making $1.7 million a year claims that the world will come to an end if the rich have to pay taxes at rate somewhat under those that prevailed in the Clinton years?

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