Sharon Kennedy: E.R. Murrow a disappearing breed

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It’s been a long time since we’ve heard mention of Edward R. Murrow. He’s been a-moldering in his grave since 1965 so I suppose there’s no reason to resurrect his broadcasts and hear his words. As a journalist and World War II short-wave correspondent, he was an honest and well-respected broadcaster, but does modern America care about such virtues anymore? Perhaps some old-timers do, but for the masses who get their daily dose of “news” from cable commentators, I doubt it.

Men like Murrow, Cronkite, Brinkley and others from the past century, seem to have fallen by the wayside. There must be news anchors that are more than mere commentators spouting sound bites and opinions, but I don’t know where to find them. By means of commentary, Rush Limbaugh ushered in a new way to report what he considered “news.” It wasn’t long before his listeners took his word as gospel. What Rush said was based on his opinions and personal interpretation of events of the day in the political realm. As an ultra-conservative, his voice was the one catering to the crowd hungering for fake news. The more his listeners devoured his program, the more they enjoyed the entertainment he provided.

In the late 1980s I, too, was drawn to his show. His bold, unrelenting attack on Democratic politicians was downright addictive to anyone who frowned upon that party’s extreme views on political correctness. I’m a slow learner and easily entertained. It took a few weeks before I realized Limbaugh’s propaganda had nothing to do with actual news. When I awakened from my stupor, I couldn’t believe I had been duped. It was then I turned to Stephanie Miller to hear the other side of the story. As I listened, I wondered what Murrow would think of what passes as “news” today when it comes to politics.

Wikipedia informed me that Murrow’s prominence came during his WWII radio broadcasts. In 1938, he reported live from Vienna in the first on-the-scene news report of his career: “This is Edward Murrow speaking from Vienna. … It’s now nearly 2:30 in the morning and Herr Hitler has not yet arrived.” Who remembers the last time we heard a live broadcast from a war zone? We get a brief view of the rubble and a 30-second sound bite from reporters in Ukraine, but we quickly forget that war and move on to more exciting political commentators. No one is interested in what’s happening in a country far from our shores. As the war drags on, it’s easily forgotten unless we have a loved one fighting or fleeing the carnage. Our mind is preoccupied with other things such as the 2024 election and which old man will win if he doesn’t die first.

“Goodnight and good luck” was one of Murrow’s catchphrases. If there’s one thing our country needs now it’s “good” luck. We’re balancing on the edge of a precipice that threatens to plunge us into a dark night for a very long time. As former Republican strategist, Steve Schmidt, said on his recent podcast, “The Warning,” regarding the debt ceiling negotiations: “U. S. citizens are being held hostage by Kevin McCarthy, Matt Gaetz and other MAGA diehards.” By the time you read this, things might be back to “normal” or we could be a nation in bankruptcy court if the diehards have their way.

Where’s a Murrow clone when we need him? Where’s a newscaster who will tell us the truth? Gone to graveyards, everyone.

— To contact Sharon Kennedy, send her an email at Kennedy's new book, "View from the SideRoad: A Collection of Upper Peninsula Stories," is available from her or Amazon.

This article originally appeared on The Sault News: Sharon Kennedy: E.R. Murrow a disappearing breed