Do you remember taking standardized tests or reading some arcane documentation and coming to an empty page with those words on it? The world has left me feeling the need to take a little white space myself. But before I do, I’m going to comment on the “rule of three” I observed this week.
The week opened with the ignominious suspension of Brian Williams for embellishing a story featuring himself and a military helicopter. Concurrent to this event my candy-boy of satire, Jon Stewart, announced that he’ll be retiring from The Daily Show by the end of 2015. And then, tragically, by week’s end Bob Simon of CBS News was killed in a car accident.
I like my journalism “neat.” I hold journalists to a higher ethical standard. Even my faux journalists, like Mr. Stewart, should exhibit full disclosure and transparency. I had a soft spot for Mr. Williams is the early days of his career because he seemed like a guy from Jersey who worked hard and recognized that he was the beneficiary of a few lucky breaks along the way. And he’s only human — who doesn’t like to get a few laughs palling around with the late night guys or making a cameo on a hot sit-com? Then, maybe, he began believing his own legend a little bit too much, didn’t listen to his friends, and took a dangerous, Icarus-inspired flight too close to the sun. America loves redemptive second acts so I wish him the best, but I think the business side of the media is going to consider him more of a “personality” and less of a journalist. Maybe he’ll go back to college and get his degree? That could be both a humble and inspiring act: we are never too old to learn and should never stop trying.
I am sad to see Mr. Stewart go, but I also know that The Daily Show is in good hands. Remember that nice man Jon Oliver? He did such a good job while Jon was on sabbatical making Rosewater that HBO lured him away with his own show. I watch it — it’s pretty good. And maybe we’ll finally get a female late-night host. That would be nice…. and about time.
Bob Simon graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in history (not journalism), and started his career as a foreign service officer. He joined CBS News in 1969 as a foreign correspondent and was actively working at 60 Minutes until his death. He won three Peabody Awards and twenty-seven Emmy Awards. Unlike Mr. Williams, I don’t know anything about Mr. Simon personally, but I trust his body of work will remain standing as testament to the practice of his craft.
Note: Can I Take A Nap? is not going “blank,” but I am working on something new for the A-to-Z Challenge in April that may take most of my juice for the next month and half. Stay tuned.