Now Cough

Monday, August 08, 2005

Passing

Peter Jennings

Peter Jennings from ABC News died of cancer on Sunday night. I admit to having gasped when I saw the story, though we all knew he would never return to the anchor chair.

Still, it is a blow. Many will disagree with me but he truly was, as the AP story put it, the best of the TV news anchors. The sensibility I got from him was worldly, cosmopolitan---not dragged into the ridiculous nationalist performance of American flag lapel pins, or slipping into a 'we' and 'them' look at the world.

His scripts, especially on documentaries, were full of nuance and care and complexity. In an age when broadcasters are pressured to make things dumb in order to make them accessible, he made them simpler to grasp without cheapening the facts.

I enjoyed his astounding performance--and let's admit, being on TV demands performance skills. He appeared genuinely smart, perhaps without a real common touch, but as an elitist I liked that. Peter Jennings would never be one to pander or clumsily trade in awkward homilies like Dan Rather or many of the people at NBC and Fox.

I'll miss him as a viewer who only knew him from this side of a TV screen. Others whom I've known who worked with him regarded Jennings as simply a great guy to work alongside.

Is there any better compliment?

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