Posted at 11:00 AM on March 29, 2007
by Andrew Haeg
Remember when Dan Rather used to sign off the evening news with the single word, "Courage"? OK, it was corny. But I'm sure Rather thought it inspired us, and that it unified us as a people aglow in authority of network news. He may have been partially right.
But it was the utterance of a man in a role on the brink of relevance.
Rather's no longer an anchor, nor is Brokaw, and sadly Peter Jennings is no longer with us. Nor is the authority that they assumed as anchors and cultural arbiters.
So it was Sunday night that this media observer saw the role of network news anchor become even more irrelevant. Katie Couric, doing her turn on 60 Minutes, got the "get" of the week: The first post-finding-out-cancer-had-returned interview with John and Elizabeth Edwards. She asked some good, legitimate questions. But she preceded every one with "Some say," or "Some people would say," instead of just straight-up asking the question, as I imagine her forebears would have. It was unseemly, cold. It lacked, well, Courage.
I can't tell you just why exactly, but to me it was a moment of recognition--long in the making--that the role of news anchor as the voice of our nation is dying if not already dead. Good night and good luck.