Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

May 9, 2014

JEFFREY McCALL: Barbara Walters a TV personality, not a journalist

Calling her iconic, legendary exaggerates her status

The ABC hype machine is in overdrive as it trumpets the retirement of Barbara Walters from on-air broadcasting. Walters’ last broadcast will be on the May 16 edition of “The View.” ABC will honor her with a two-hour prime-time special that evening.

ABC’s president, Anne Sweeney, gushed about Walters, “Her influence on television, and American culture, will resonate for decades to come.” The CEO of Disney, ABC’s parent company, Bob Iger, said, “In this business, there are legends, there are icons and then there is Barbara Walters.” His effusive praise went on, saying Walters “set the standard for journalistic excellence for more than 50 years.”

Walters did, indeed, make a name for herself and made mountains of money for ABC with her prime-time specials, and her work on the newsmagazine “20/20” and daytime chatfest “The View.” Her career deserves a retrospective, but from a standpoint outside of the ABC public relations office.

Walters broke into the media business as a behind-the-scenes writer at NBC, eventually working her way up to be co-host of “Today.” She entered the network news world with no journalistic credentials, a fact that bothered the grizzled news veterans of the day.

She made history in 1976 when ABC hired her to be the first woman to co-anchor a network evening newscast. The gimmick of hiring a “Today” host to do a serious newscast never worked. Walters had built her career as a morning gabber, and that didn’t translate to the serious news anchor desk.

Walters came on board when the ABC evening news show was mired in last place in the ratings. When she departed the anchor chair in less than two years, ABC was still dead last.

Walters’ co-anchor at ABC was veteran newsman Harry Reasoner. It was clear to viewers that Reasoner didn’t like working with Walters. Reasoner was a nationally recognized journalist who made a name for himself at CBS as a reporter and founding host of “60 Minutes.” ABC brought Walters on board with a million-dollar-per-year contract, five times what the veteran Reasoner was making at the time. No wonder he was miffed.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • DAVE BANGERT: Indiana's new chief justice and court's 'mom question' Two years ago, as Loretta Rush ascended from Tippecanoe Superior Court 3 judge to the state’s Supreme Court, I dropped this line in a column celebrating someone who had earned her place.“Across the state, the headline will be: ‘[Mitch] Daniels Choose

    August 14, 2014

  • JEFFREY McCALL: POTUS promises of transparency fail to materialize The United States system of government relies on citizens having full access to information that can be used in self-governance. Journalists and other First Amendment advocates were enthused when the Obama administration came into office with convinc

    August 14, 2014

  • Rob Burgess House of Burgess: RIP Robin Williams

    I was re-watching the 2006 movie “Little Miss Sunshine” Monday when I heard my phone buzz. After the credits had rolled, I looked at the screen and found myself shocked.It was a news alert that Robin Williams had died that morning at the age of 63 of an apparent suicide.

    August 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • ANDREA NEAL: 'Paddle Your Own Canoe' is a Hoosier inspiration

    Editor’s note: This is one in a series of essays leading up to the celebration of the Indiana Bicentennial in December 2016. James Whitcomb Riley was the most acclaimed, but he wasn’t the first Hoosier poet to gain national fame. Sarah T. Bolton dese

    August 13, 2014

  • DAVE BANGERT: Rokita, illegal immigration, Ebola outbreak and context At first listen last Monday, there was something so unsavory about our congressman, Todd Rokita, whipping up two full-fledged crises — Central American children at the U.S. southern border and the African scourge of Ebola — into one pungent sound bit

    August 12, 2014

  • DAN COATS: Let's give nonprofits relief from IRS delays A flurry of scandal has recently surrounded the Internal Revenue Service.Over the past few months, we have learned about missing emails from IRS employees and revelations of clear bias and hostility by a top IRS official towards organizations with ce

    August 12, 2014

  • BRIAN HOWEY: Pitchforks and pikes in our summer of discontent Congress is ... embarrassing. Our political system is failing us. On an individual basis, many of us have respect for members of our delegation. We can have a common sense conversation with a senator, congressman or congresswoman, and then they go ba

    August 11, 2014

  • DICK WOLFSIE: Enough reminders to forget It began with a simple phone call to my friend, Auri, a computer geek I asked to help me with my very successful website, which right now is attracting up to three visitors a month. To have a strong online presence, you have to spend several hours a

    August 11, 2014

  • ED VASICEK: Outsourced jobs, health crises in foreign lands The other week, my Internet was giving me trouble. I called the support number, and — to my surprise — I spoke to a representative who sounded as American as apple pie. It turned out the technical problem was an oversight on my end and fixed quickly.

    August 10, 2014

  • MICHAEL HICKS: Dodging corporate taxes Corporations are among our oldest institutions. Something like a joint stock company probably triggered the earliest formal written communication — the accounting ledger. It should be unsurprising that the early traders of Mesopotamia used a corporat

    August 10, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Furry Roommates: Dorms Allowing Cats and Dogs Chase Rice Defends Bro-Country 'Jersey Shore Massacre' Pokes Fun at MTV Series Raw: Wash. Mudslides Close Roads, Trap Motorists DC's Godfather of Go-Go Honored Ukraine Calls Russian Convoy a 'direct Invasion' Girl Meets Her 'one in the World' Match Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks Japan Landslide Rescuers Struggle in Heavy Rain Raw: Severe Floods, Fire Wrecks Indiana Homes Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future Raw: Russian Aid Convoy Arrives in Ukraine Okla. Policeman Accused of Sex Assaults on Duty Dominican Republic Bans Miley Cyrus Concert Raw: Israeli Air Strike in Gaza Raw: Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in Malaysia Attorney: Utah Eatery Had Other Chemical Burn
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller