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TinotopiaLog → Tom Shales: What an Ultra-Maroon ( 4 Apr 2005)
Monday 04 April 2005

Tom Shales: What an Ultra-Maroon Tom Shales, in the Washington Post, on the Pope’s passing, and particularly on the TV coverage thereof (Shales is a TV and movie critic at the Post):

One authoritative presence was certainly conspicuous by its absence: Dan Rather, longtime anchor of “The CBS Evening News” who, if that situation hadn’t changed recently — and in a manner unbecoming of ruthless CBS brass — would have been on the job anchoring the coverage, voluntarily interrupting his own weekend to do so.

Because, of course, it’s not like Dan Rather did anything ‘unbecoming’, like say reporting claims of such a dubious nature that CBS lost an enormous amount of prestige and an enormous number of viewers, of course. Nope. It’s just that ‘ruthless’ CBS brass that lowered the boom on Rather, for no particular reason, after a snap decision that only took a few months (and that after several similar, but lower-profile, gaffes by Rather in the past).

But Shales isn’t done being insulting, yet. Earlier in his column, he complained that Fox network TV cut away to NASCAR coverage — a NASCAR ‘Busch series’ (i.e. minor-league) rain delay, no less — on Saturday afternoon.

I don’t actually disagree with Shales that this was poor judgment — though, it must be admitted, most NASCAR fans seem to be solidly Protestant. But he doesn’t stop there:

Authority and gravitas and stature like Rather’s are missed

Not to mention his impartiality and humility. Ahem. Sorry.

Authority and gravitas and stature like Rather’s are missed, but such values are racing out of style anyway. The Greatest Generation and the baby boomers respected such things, but the iPodders now coming to adulthood apparently do not. One wonders how many of them even knew of the pope’s passing, or how many were in a snit because they couldn’t see the NASCAR races as scheduled.

But he doesn’t know, because Tom Shales, journalist, didn’t ask. He just assumed that these ‘iPodders’ — that is, people who are younger than Shales is — were ‘in a snit’ because they couldn’t see a race that they couldn’t see anyway because it was rained out.

And this ‘snit’ — which people may or may not have been in — which is somehow tied up with Dan Rather having participated in disgracing himself and his employer, for which he was gently eased out of his position at the point of CBS News’ spear, is apparently the fault of these damned kids, i.e. everyone younger than about age 45. And they wonder why ‘young people’ don’t read newspapers as much as the wrinklies do.

Shales goes on:

Yesterday the global village was, comparatively speaking

i.e. except for those goddamned ‘kids’ with their iPods and their hair (not long hair, just hair full stop: most people Shales doesn’t put in the class of ‘irreverent whippersnapper’ would have gone bald and deaf long ago)

Yesterday the global village was, comparatively speaking, at peace, stopping to contemplate and recall a man whose very existence was the pursuit of peace. It made one feel very small, somehow, and yet part of something gigantically grand again.

Though the careful reader of his columns will note that it really shouldn’t take much — an honest mirror, perhaps — to make Mr. Shales feel small.

Posted by tino at 10:00 4.04.05
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I am struck by the utter lack of originality of Tom Shales’ commentary. Wow Tom, thanks for pointing out that American youth are not interested in the news. His jab could have been written almost any time in the last 50 years.

Furthermore, after weeks of various death watches, I would welcome a news “break.” And I can’t think of anything more boring to watch than hours of coverage of the pope’s funeral. I mean, I would even watch a rain delayed minor league NASCAR race instead of watching a really long line of people.

However, I have to admit that Shales has left me with a quandry — am I somehow supposed to choose between my love for my ipod and my equal passion for Peter Jennings?

Posted by: Shaye at April 13, 2005 11:47 AM