Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Rest in Peace Cokie Roberts

Cokie Roberts, who was a staple on the national press as I was entering adulthood, and was one of the foundation stones of the media as I began to become more and more aware of our nation's current events and our world, has died.  Rest in peace.

I remember her coming into  her own on ABC's World News Tonight.  She was of the Woodward/Bernstein generation that no longer saw its job as reporting the facts, but rather creating a narrative.  They saw journalism as a missionary movement, a vocation that was here to right the wrongs, and fix the problems, and call out injustices.  Sometimes, of course, that meant choosing sides, and increasingly the side that the majority of national journalists were choosing by the mid 1990s was becoming crystal clear.

This opened up a marketing opportunity for the new FOX News Network.  Ostensibly a fair and balanced network, it wasn't hard to see its own bias.  And it seldom bent over backwards to hide the fact that it favored a more conservative, or at least libertarian, viewpoint.  This was done to corner the market of the growing number of Americans - including liberals and Democrats back in the day - who were uneasy with a national press willing to accept at face value the punditry and policy agendas of only one side of the political aisle.

Ms. Roberts, along with her peers Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, Sam Donaldson and Ted Koppel, as well as many others, began changing the press nonetheless, and making it clear that the news will always be about reporting when man bites dog.  If, however, we conclude that men always should have bitten dogs as the actual normal, then we will no longer report that, but rather focus on the outrageous prospect of dogs biting men.  Or at least humans.

Nonetheless, compared to today, Ms. Roberts was a bastion of class and dignity and maturity, as were most of her peers of the day.  Compared to today, be it the mainline publications like the Washington Post or New York Times, or the less savory television news, that generation of reporters does come off as almost unbiased and impartial, reporting only facts and allowing the reader or viewer to decide.  It didn't look like that then, and perhaps it's their doing that it looks so different now.

Still, she was a part of the world into which I entered adulthood, and like Ric Ocasek or anyone of that time, she is part of my life's memories.  She was good at her craft, and she no doubt had a positive impact on many people.  I pray peace be with her loved ones and strength as well, and eternal peace be granted unto her.  RIP.

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