Saturday, April 4, 2020

And That's The Way It Was

There used to be a thing called The News. It came out of your TV at six pm. There were three portals in your TV it could come out of. Every family had their favorite portal.

The three portals were NBC, CBS, and ABC. It was hard to compare them because once you chose your The News portal you stuck with it. You had your personal family anchorman and you didn't switch. This is because it would require hauling your dead ass out of your chair to change the channel.

We were a Huntley-Brinkley family. I don't know why. Daddy was a man of strong opinions, eloquently hollered, whether you asked about them or not. So I figure he had a reason. Because I had faith in that, I grew up thinking Walter Cronkite was not as good, and maybe bad. Similarly, I knew Eisenhower was not as good as Adlai Stevenson, even though I didn't know anything about either one. It's also possible we were Huntley-Brinkleyers because of the theme music, which was the second movement of Beethoven's 9th symphony. At the end of their final show, they played the whole movement. I was transported. I now suspect we had the album in our meager record collection and could have played it at any time, but I thought of the moment as a once-in-a-lifetime event. That's how TV events were. You didn't get a second shot.

Anyway, in much the same way as one could be either a Methodist or a Presbyterian, many people preferred Cronkite over on CBS. Nobody knows who did The News on ABC. Probably Ward Cleaver, with opinion by Uncle Bub for gravitas.

But whether you watched Huntley-Brinkley on the peacock channel, or Walter Cronkite on the eyeball channel, or Amos Real McCoy over on the channel with just the little letters inside a button, you got pretty much the same The News, at the same time of day.

They didn't necessarily get the news right, but one assumes they tried. Powerful people were still capable of manufacturing a story that would get us more enthusiastic about a war, and the portals would dutifully report that story, but good journalism eventually prevailed. All of us sat around our boxes and absorbed The News without much suspicion, and we formed our different opinions and voted based on the same basic product.

That turns out to be a big deal. Now we can simply default to our own ill-formed biases without any illumination whatsoever, if we want to. The News can be less a source of information than a vehicle to get and keep our dander up.

So on one portal you can learn that seasoned professional intelligence officers, diplomats, and presidential appointees have all agreed that the President has attempted to extort a strategic ally for a personal favor. Or, you can go to another portal and learn that House Democrats have conducted shady interrogations in the basement of the same D.C. pizza parlor Hillary "Lock Her Up" Clinton used to run a child sex ring out of, and that one of the inquisitors has been secretly recorded snickering at a photo of Trump in golf pants and a stiff breeze; and that the entire impeachment process is rigged, illegitimate, and illegal, and springs only out of a deep-seated irrational hatred of a successful and godly president on the part of people who simply can't get over having lost an election. And if Trump gets removed, Joe Biden and his son should be found guilty of entrapment. All of this would become clear if only we had access to HC's deleted emails, which are also thought to include correspondence with her sex-change surgeon, a scanned copy of Satan's compact with Obama, and a mysterious photo of a baby with one white head, one Kenyan head, and thick ankles.

You know what else? The three old portals used to blink off at midnight.

I miss that.

32 comments:

  1. We were also a Huntley-Brinkley family, but if the parents were gone for the evening I would sneak a peak of Cronkite. I liked his voice. And you are right. We were truly blessed that it all went dark at midnight or 1 a.m. on Saturday night after the late late show.
    "Dag nabbit Little Luke!" Amos McCoy.

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    1. Dagnabbiting is one of my favorite activities.

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  2. And you, Murr, exposed your bias by presenting 167 words on one side of the story against on 25 words on the other side. I've got your number!

    Who are those strange newsmen of whom you wrote? We watched zero news on TV in my youth. My parents bought a TV after I left home.

    I bought my first TV for $5, in college, which I promptly gave to my younger brother from which to make an oscilloscope. My second TV was a used set that lasted about 8 months - which was purchased after our kids were born, but while they were too young to watch.

    The next two TVs were, respectively, a B&W Heathkit and a color Heathkit - the assembly of which Hunky Husband and I had (mostly friendly) fights.

    These days, sad to say, I have to get my world news from erudite folks like you, Murr. Well...you and NPR. I grew up on radio (Hunky Husband and I met via ham radio) and it is still my primary source of daily news.

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    1. I have such a depressive personality that I get my news from the local paper instead of TV or radio. That way I can self-censor. That, or comedians like John Oliver, Trevor Noah, or Stephen Colbert.

      My husband, on the other hand, is a news junkie. The other night, he mentioned a bit of news to me before I went to bed. I couldn't sleep all night because of anxiety, so I told him no more news brought to my attention after dinner. My insomnia is not going to make the world a better place, nor help ME in any way, so what difference does it make if I'm so veryvery well-informed?

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    2. I think you're probably entirely well-enough informed with those sources. People really overdo this news business. The comedians do a fine job of it.

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    3. Cop Car, I don't remember when we got our first TV, but I know we didn't have one when I was wee. We did have one in time to watch Dick Van Dyke and Ed Sullivan. (But not Wonderful World of Disney, per daddy's orders!)

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    4. The theme from "Lawrence of Arabia" will forever be stuck in my head because the first time I ever saw TV was to watch a movie, while baby-sitting, after the kiddies were down. I don't, at this late date, know whether the movie shown was "Lawrence etc" or whether that piece was the theme song for a regular program that showed movies. I thought that family had to be fabulously wealthy to have their own TV.

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  3. We got a television late. It is a habit I have never really acquired - for which I am thankful.
    Here in Australia? It was the ABC news and the paper. And these habits have stuck.

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    1. A different ABC? Yeah. I'm actively snubbing news now. I'm going out in the back yard and finding my own news.

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  4. I'd be 100% down with 3 channels the way it used to be. Can we get that lucky?

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    1. I even found the star mesmerizing. When you turned off the box.

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  5. More than Reporting just News, and taking themselves out of the equation and allowing us to form our own Opinions... seems most Channels now are sharing Opinions and Biases. I think my Parents were Cronkite Fans, but I was always mesmerized by the Peacock, the Eyeball being Creepy and Boring.

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    1. I'm trying to remember. Did they use the peacock before color TV was invented? Probably not.

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    2. The Internet is always correct and it says you are correct: "The peacock, was first used in 1956" to highlight NBC's color broadcasting.

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  6. I hate to say it, but the left-leaning news reporters are drifting toward the "opinion" end of the spectrum instead of "straight news". I understand the urge to do something, ANYTHING, to fight against Trump and his ilk, but ... it's undermining their credibility, I'm afraid. I wish it were not so. Oh, to have the newscasters from our youth back again.

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    1. I think virtually all newscasts are like that now--maybe not PBS. I do think Rachel Maddow plays it pretty straight and is constantly being proven right, but she's the only one I watch. Even when I agree with the slant, it bugs me.

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  7. I realize now that the reason we were Huntley-Brinkley was because it was the only TV station we had locally. CBS was a Portland station and we couldn't get it clearly down here.

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    1. Well, that would do it! We got all three in Virginia, and I think, now, that Dad liked Brinkley. They gave the straight news and then Brinkley gave an opinion at the end, maybe.

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  8. Our three main channels are 7, 9 and 10. I rarely watch ch10 news because I rarely anything at all on Ch10, but the 7 and 9 news services are almost identical, if you missed something on 7 you might catch it on 9 if you swutch fast enough and they played another news item first. I only watch to get the weather report for the next day and now that I stay home a lot, I don't even bother with that. 'Swutch"? suddenly I'm a Kiwi, heh heh, that's a New Zealander accent for "switch" :)

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    1. I think that everyone watched the news back then primarily to get the weather. And they always put it on LAST! We had to watch the news first. It's like they were making us eat our vegetables before we could have dessert. Now I just get my weather online.

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    2. Oh we watched The News all the way through, but it was hard to hear over Daddy's opinions.

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  9. I draw the line at watching long haired blonds w. cleavage, assuming they are on the Religious Right,which you'd athunk would have covered over said cleavage...that is, if they're allowed to speak @tall, mostly being wedged in b/t the 2 guys who lecture us as to what's what. Otherwise, it's Rachel & the MSNBC crew for me, unless they're showing too much of T's fat face & tiny screwed up mouth: even w. the audio off, it's unbearable...We watched the Vietnam War w. dinner for years til I left home for college, and after watching in silence coverage of the Dem. Convention of 1968, didn't vote or watch the news for many years. And I was a PoliSci major, read history of nations rather than notice anything current, it was so awful. Am full in these days,though it's still awful, and looks to be getting worse...

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    1. We went from Huntley/Brinkley to Christie Brinkley.

      *headdesks*

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    2. Man, those late '60s were turbulent times as well. And yet even in memory they seem benign, now. I'm more hopeless.

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    3. Mostly, what I remember from the 1960s is having had our younger daughter and moving: 1960 moved, 1962 younger daughter born, 1963 moved, 1965 moved, 1967 moved, 1968 moved.

      I like Rachel for her humility, her intelligence, her deep thinking, and her same-same wardrobe in which she always looks professional (because we are not usually treated to the sight of her jeans).

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    4. I also like her sensible haircut, and esp. her manner of asking ea. authoritative guest if she'd gotten it right or if they'd correct anything she'd said initially- no assumptions there of being "in the know" better than anyone else...a little humility goes a long way these days, it's so rare.

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    5. And she doesn't talk over people.

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  10. My father worked for a CBS-affiliated station, so we watched Uncle Walter like God intended.

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