February 16, 2011

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Eric Sevareid - before the days of agenda, there was that thing called "commentary".


Before the days of spin, agendas and punditry, there was that somewhat extinct class of journalists known as "commentators" - and even though they were journalists first, their commentaries were secondary; separate and classified as such. They were usually imbued with a sense of professional objectivity we would find somewhat strange by todays standards with Entertainers masquerading as Journalists and Journalists masquerading as Entertainers.

One such commentator was Eric Sevareid. In the mold of Edward R. Murrow (in fact, often referred to as one of "Murrow's Boys" during World War 2), Sevareid along with radio journalists Charles Collingwood, Robert Trout and many others from CBS and the other networks routinely offered commentaries on the days news, separate from their regular reporting. The subject matter was wide ranged, from world news to human interest stories and the commentators rotated during any given week. However objective they may seemed to have been, they were still not without their detractors, as was evidenced by several commentators winding up on the infamous "Nixon Enemies List". But still . . . .

Typical of the Sevareid Commentaries was this one, aired in December 1958 and featuring Eric Sevareid talking about the ever-present budget deficit.

Eric Sevareid: “It’s still clear that the total deficit will be high, and still clear that the number one personal project of President Eisenhower in his last two years will be to get government spending in hand.”

Further proof that, in fifty-three years, some things just never change.

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