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Big Chuck

May 19, 2014

The plain plane truth ruins CNN

Bye-bye CNN. It’s been nice to know you.

I was kind of a news nerd as a kid. All my other friends watched or played sports while I was the one who raced home to watch the “Huntley-Brinkley Report.”  My bedroom walls were lined with the front pages of the New York Daily News (“Man Lands on Moon,” “Israel Defeats Arabs in Desert War,” “Mantle Quits,” “John Lindsay Elected Big Apple Mayor,” “Khe Sanh Overrun by Viet Cong,” etc.).

My life’s timeline can be tracked by my devotion to the famous talking heads of our time. I was too late for Edward R. Murrow but right on time for Walter Cronkite, “The Most Trusted Man in America.” Frank Reynolds, Douglas Edwards, John Chancellor, Dan Rather, Roger Mudd, Howard K. Smith and many others all were my teachers. The pithy and prosaic Eric Severeid was my tutor. Charles Kuralt was my tour guide.

The early days of CNN were heady times for those of us addicted to broadcast journalism. Who can ever forget Bernie Shaw and Peter Arnett hunkering down on a balcony ledge in downtown Baghdad the night “Shock and Awe” came thundering down as America unleashed its war machines against Saddam Hussein?

Or poor Aaron Brown, on his very first day at CNN, being in the anchor seat in midtown Manhattan describing the horror of the World Trade Center towers falling into a heap of rubble. On Jan. 28, 1986, when the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up killing all seven of its astronauts the whole world turned to CNN, the only network that was covering the launch live.

CNN chased the clock around the globe for us welcoming in the new century in 2000. When Baby Jessica was yanked from the center of the Earth in 1987 millions were glued to CNN. When the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, CNN was virtually sitting on top of it bringing the coverage to a waiting and relieved world. The infamous hanging chads of Florida? CNN helped us count each one.

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