Walter Cronkite … where are you when we need you?

mad-as-hell words“R.I.P.?”  Not Walter Cronkite.  He’s a veritable whirling dervish … spinning in his grave.  Poor dead Walter.

And what got him spinning started with Paddy Chayevsky’s 1976 screen play, “Network,” a prescient dark comedy about American news casting.

If you’ve seen “Network,” you probably recall Peter Finch as trench-coated news anchor, Howard Beale in his deranged soliloquy:

“So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!!’”

But, if you’re blessed with my memory, most of the details have floated off into the “ozone layer of movies past.”

“Network Mad as Hell Scene:”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WINDtlPXmmE

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Plot Line:  Anchor for UBS evening news, Howard Beale’s a victim of death spiral sinking ratings.  He’s been told he’s fired which leads to his famous on-the-air tirade.

The rant’s witnessed by an uber-aggressive programming exec who’s trying to save her own endangered ass.  Thanks to her under-the-cover efforts, Beale gets his own show … billed as “the mad prophet of the airwaves.”

And “Network” gives birth to the news as the entertainment and Reality TV Frankenstein mutant of today.

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Time Warp:  Paint Beale’s hair orange and voila, he’s Donald Trump delivering the famed 1976 rant.  If you want a 2016 setting, dress “Don-the-Con” in Beale’s rumpled trench coat and ask him a question about “Trump-U.”  Quickly duck for cover to avoid getting a spit-shower from Trump as Beale.

Today we have thought-free news.  News morphed into a storyline … a buildup then the hook … to keep us watching.

Then … two sound bites later, they’re off and running to the next big item.  The movie of 40 years ago and current reality TV?  Twins separated at birth.

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Don-the-Con’s the creation of the Grand Old Partnership (GOP) and cable news networks.  Neither group blinked while Trump channeled his middle-school-bully, lying and dancing his way to win a plurality of angry GOP extremists.

Media pundits gave Trump free exposure in exchange for a ratings bonanza … dive bombing into shows via phone, Twitter, and occasional personal appearances.

Trump’s Winning Equation:  Trump = Ratings Increase = Network Dollars.

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So stop spinning Walter and get your revered ass down here to straighten out this mess.  We need you … even if you’re only a Star Wars hologram.

I wanna hear one more time:  “And that’s the way it is.  Sunday, June 12th, 2016.  This is Walter Cronkite, CBS News, good night.”

Just sayin’ …

6 thoughts on “Walter Cronkite … where are you when we need you?

  1. Poor Walter! (And Chet Huntley and David Brinkley and Morley Safer and so many others.)

    But to quote a much, much earlier commentator, “The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our (TV) stars but in our selves…”

    Forget Trump…a man whose proven track record of intellectual and behavioral skills definitely qualify him for a REALLY BIG JOB….like heading up Comcast Customer Service…

    The REAL problem is that we are paying attention to that crap! Personally, I don’t need a “news anchor” born in 1987 telling me what’s important!

    • How true, Tom … But I don’t think many of the current crop of TV Pundits would be able to reference Brutus in any historical context … maybe as an NFL linebacker.

      Trump clones are already on the other end of the ComCast Custo Service phone lines.

      Thanks for reading and for your support …

  2. Thank you Richard for putting my feelings of distrust and disgust and dismay about the news into words. I now go to Google news where I can get two or three takes from different sources on the same story. From there I can search and explore other commentaries.
    I heard that David Brinkley was able to re-write a story as he read it from the teleprompter. The control booth would go wild but the viewer never knew. Great days, those. Thanks.

    • Hey Porter … you’re right on the mark … We get our “news” from several on-line sources and then go from there onto other sources for the same “story.” We’ve learned that Google is a good starting point … we basically use the TV Pundits for comic relief … some exceptions with Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, Gene Robertson (WAPO-who Trump calls Gene Washington-after all, aren’t all black men named Washington or Johnson?) …

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. Oh, yes, I want Walter back too. I want to sit in my living room with my TV tray and watch the news; be able to eat my dinner and sip my wine without getting mad as hell at the content and the characters on the news. Even my beloved Rachel’s program is chocked-full of commercials. I just want to go home to Kansas and not see what seems to be the land of Oz and the wicked witch of the East (Trump) and scary winged monkeys (too many to name) before me every night. Alas, this isn’t going to happen, is it, Richard? Thanks for the memories and for making me think more deeply about how this whole Trump ordeal is affecting us. I am now going to open the window and scream!

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