She was right. Dan looked terrible on his last day. Baggy-eyed, over-made-up, wooden. I mean even more than usual.
Dan chose his last segment to remember Sept. 11 through a Reporter's Notebook. To him, this was the penultimate story of his career, and we'll agree with him on that. I was less impressed with his closing, at which he wished his staff, his viewers, the soldiers, the people, and the peanut butter and jelly sandwich he had for lunch, "Courage!" I guess it plays better than, "Fairness!" Or "Objectivity!"
His last show was a rare return to network television news for millions who have left the format for Fox, blogs and the Internet. What did we see?
First, a sensationalist story saying that recent oil price increases may go on and on forever. "How high prices will go is the question. There's no road map because this is the first time it’s demand driven." Oh really? Every late spring gas prices go up due to demand. Scare journalism.
Then from sensationalism to bias, with the Democratic spin on the new bankruptcy legislation, focusing on a single mom with huge medical bills -- a bit more sympathetic than the BK-scammers. The reporter seemed perterbed that people would be required to receive debt counselling, then she presented a cameo from trial lawyer mouthpiece Joan Claybrook.
John Robertson reported on the opening of Congressional Social Security hearings, and grinned while reporting thatBush was having a hard time.
Oh, there's a WMD report is coming out that's critical of the quality of US intelligence on Iran and NoKo. I wonder what else it says.
Army recruiting is down, Dan says. This report included Zany Dan saying, "At least one more. ... Casualty." Odd. But it did offer a good interview with Iraqi woman working in Green Zone.
Then we got Lebanon in 10 or 12 seconds. Deep, deep understanding, with an anti-Bush spin: "President Bush is putting pressure on Syria, but Lebanon is reinstalling its former pro-Syrian prime minister."
Next, more fear sensationalism, this time on a bogus report linking second-hand cigarette smoke to breast cancer. Dennis Prager points out that Japanese women are surrounded by second hand smoke but have much lower breast cancer rates than here, but he wasn't quoted. The reporter closed by saying that there's some controvrsy, but, "This evidence is enough … delay will cost more women their lives." Damn the science! Full speed ahead!
All network news is brief, but some is briefer than others. Bush and Clinton golf ... big plume at Mt. St. Helens ... Nathan B. Bruckenthal: Fallen hero.
After the break, there was a good report on security for federal judges and the families. The interviewed judge, Charles Brieant, made me want to eat a bowl of oatmeal in a Wilford Brimley sort of way.
More quickies: Michael Jackson face-to-face with accuser. Philippines poisoning case kills 27 kids. Pope John Paul at window, waving. Then the Reporter’s notebook segment on Sept. 11 and the big close.
There's just not much there to watch. How can network news executives look at this mush and think it works? It's as old, tired and ready to be retired as Dan Rather. All it would take to fix it is a little ... courage.