Diane Sawyer Wades In

Think Progress has video and lowlights of Diane Sawyer’s interview with Al Gore today. As TP points out the interview reaffirmed the thesis of Gore’s book on the “serial obsessions” of the media.

This reminded me of a post from Dan Baum’s New Orleans Journal at The New Yorker to which I’d been meaning to link. It’s a great post on Dan’s first visit to the lower 9th ward when he thought recovery “will never happen there” and one of his most recent visits in which he found hope for the area.

At any rate one my favorite parts involved Sawyer. Baum relates how in the days after the levees broke he went to the lower 9th ward, cordoned off by military, in hopes he could get in to see the area. The National Guard would not let him in. But they told him to park his car and a soldier would walk with him to the crest of the St Claude Ave bridge so he could take a look at the area. So he and the soldier “huffed up the bridge’s incline in the soupy humidity.” After cresting the bridge they looked upon the devastation in stunned silence. Then this occurred…

The silence was broken by three black S.U.V.s speeding along the bridge
toward us, engines roaring. It was too small a motorcade to be
President Bush, but I thought it might be Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice or Governor Kathleen Blanco. The trucks stopped, and a
platoon of suits and security agents jumped out, and then, one long leg
at a time, Diane Sawyer emerged, in fishing waders that were turned
down at the top.

3 thoughts on “Diane Sawyer Wades In

  1. Isn’t the meat of the problem this describes that TV “stars” make so much money and have such fame that we all treat them as if there is something very special about them? There really isn’t anything special about them, other than their ability to look good on TV. I used to see this all the time with news reporters who get to be on Washington Week in Review. They start out as reporters, but within a year or so they morph into celebrities, a totally different profession. From then on they exist only to maintain their celebrity status. And, we do like our celebrities, so we all help them all we can.

  2. Diane Sawyer is only another link in the chain. This crap started with Geraldo and Baba Wawa in the early 1980s, trying to out-Rather Daniel, who didn’t so much do the “star turn” as, in venues varying from the hills of Afghanistan to the open hatches of hurricane-skirting helicopters, chase the story to its seed and source.
    Other good journalists used to do this too but then came the whole “star turn” idea (that damn empty vault comes to mind, and the months of hype before Geraldo broke into it) that led us to think TV reporters were special, because they were paid to stand in front of a camera. Sensation and appearance — early drafts of “shock and awe” — have long since eclipsed substance and dedication, not just in DC media but among all “celebrity” newsreaders. I was forcibly reminded of this just the other night watching the CBS tribute to Walter Cronkite.
    Walter’s looks are going, but his mind is fine. He still has that voice, and he still appears to enjoy sailing. The man is a legend, and deservedly so, for his elan and for his ability to turn and look the camera in the eye and speak the truth — and the hell with who got pissed off in corporate headquarters over what he had to say, or how many politicians got indigestion over the facts of his reports; the truth was the point, and he felt his audience deserved it, whether that’s what they really wanted or not (can you imagine Cronkite doing the kind of spin Limbaugh, Russert, or Malkin are so famous for? Yeah — in a pig’s eye.) The man did have some unbridled enthusiasm, and NASA benefited from that; but he had unbridled humanity as well, and that was on display when he told us about the assassinations — JFK, RFK, MLK. More importantly, he wasn’t about ‘performing’; he was about ‘news.’ Facts. Numbers. Images. Truths. The incontrovertible, not because of the way he framed his reportage, but because “That’s the way it is.”
    Would that we had a snowball’s chance in Hades of ever seeing another journalist like Walter Cronkite.
    Dan Rather’s still as sharp as a tack. Still sounds like he just graduated from Sam Houston State when he’s on the track of a story; and he fears the Bushes (and the VRWC) about as much as he did Nixon (which would be something like NOT!) in the 70s. But Daniel’s past 70, now, too.
    (Oh, And FUCK YOU, JOHN HINDERAKER, VERY MUCH, you slimy filthy lying ignorant illegitimate whiny little son of a failed spinmeister, you!!!)
    Mike Wallace looks like a warmed-over George Hamilton, and sounds like he’s underwater. The days when his 60 Minutes pieces backlit themselves with the explosive pyrotechniques of confrontational journalism at its best have passed; he invented the form, but he rode it too hard and put it up wet too many times.
    Daniel Schorr, over at NPR, hasn’t lost his acuity, but his voice is going; and since he’s got to be at least 80, I bet his looks have left the building too. Sometimes I find his take on the US under Bush frighteningly refreshing; sometimes, I just don’t see where he’s coming from.
    I come from print media; radio is one step this side of mindless, and TV “news” — particularly in the post 2005 era — is really just “infotainment” blathering away between the commercials, which are the real point anyway.

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