Stateside With Rosalea: Courage
Well, it's 6.30 pm Wednesday, 9 March, here in the Bay Area and CBS veteran reporter and editor Dan Rather has just said his last words from the anchor's chair. Last word, actually. ''Courage.''
And he wished it to all of us here in our homes, not just to people battling with the aftermath of natural and man-made disasters, or fighting far from home, or trying to stay alive in failing health and oppressive circumstances.
"Courage," he said, after explaining that was the way he had signed off earlier in his 24-year career at the anchor desk. (That was in 1986, and he was mocked for it.) He's going back to being a reporter. Now that takes courage.
I mean that "being a reporter" takes courage, not that "going back to" does. So often reporters lack courage, especially now that most of what is called news is merely plagiarism--an unattributed press release regurgitated.
Personally, I think anchors of news shows should have term limits. There is no appreciable value in having the same person sit in that seat all the time. On the contrary, people begin to identify with them and trust that what they say is the gospel truth, when they could be just as misinformed as the next person.
A more frequent turnaround would also lessen the stockpile of ammunition that can be built up against a news anchor by his or her detractors. Witness the Media Research Center's "Dan Rather File" at http://www.mediaresearch.org/profiles/rather/ for how that works.
Over on ABC and NBC, both of whose evening network news shows play in the Bay Area a half-hour before the one on CBS, Peter Jennings and Brian Williams ended with praise for Rather as a friend and newsman. Williams seemed to be so discombobulated earlier in the NBC bulletin that he referred to today as Thursday. All three shows play at the same time back East, where they originate.
Well, Dan. Thanks for the farewell word. Were you saying it as a warning for what is inevitably to come? Or were you hoping that people out here who could change the course of history if they would only get up the courage to face down the malignancy in this society would have their resolve stiffened?
Each day for a week or two now, Rather has been reviewing a story from his reporter's notebook. He ended tonight with 9/11. A story about chance. The chance of some people having survived even as the North Tower collapsed around them, just because they paused for breath on the 18th floor.
If you ask me, chance is the main reason people exhibit courage. Knowing that there's a chance of survival--for themselves, for their idea of a better world, for their honesty to be recognized when deceit is the norm--is what drives people to continue in the face of impossible odds. Since chance favours no one in particular and everyone at some time, you might as well rely on it and act courageously.