The genesis of the ABC News show Nightline was the Iranian Hostage Crisis. Needing a place to consolidate all various news stories (and wanting a way to challenge the ratings juggernaut that was The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson), Roone Arledge bumped an occasional 20 minute segment from the Nightly News broadcast to its own dedicated 30 minute broadcast every weekday. It was an instant hit and became the go-to place to catch up on the news.
After the hostages were released, the show was retooled to cover a single news subject in a in-depth fashion that the nightly news shows were not set up to do.
And then we had the first Gulf War and the newly debuted CNN made its bones by wall-to-wall coverage, bringing us Wolf Blitzer and "SCUD Stud" Arthur Kent.
We are in the midst of another nation-shaken-to-its-core news event with nearly every aspect of the Trump presidency and businesses under investigation.
Trump’s 2016 campaign is under scrutiny by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, whose investigation into Russian interference has already led to guilty pleas by his campaign chairman and four advisers.
Trump’s inaugural committee has been probed by Mueller for illegal foreign donations, a topic that the incoming House Intelligence Committee chairman plans to further investigate next year.
Trump’s charity is locked in an ongoing suit with New York state, which has accused the foundation of “persistently illegal conduct.”
The mounting inquiries are building into a cascade of legal challenges that threaten to dominate Trump’s third year in the White House. In a few weeks, Democrats will take over in the House and pursue their own investigations into all of the above — and more.
It is more than most media outlets can keep on top of. And when you add in the cable news outlets' penchant for covering it on "both sides" by booking Trump proxies with unchallenged lies, it's even harder for Americans to really know what's going on.
That's why I'm intrigued by Joan Walsh's idea that it's time to bring back a Nightline-style single-focus news show as a clearinghouse of Trump news and all the investigations. No pundits, no Trump proxies, just a place where all the dots can be connected.
The sad reality is that there will always be a percentage of the population who will dismiss the cold facts in front of them. But this kind of programming is not for them. It's for the rest of us and for the rest of the media to refer back to when interviewing politicians.