We’re rid of you at last. We thought you’d never go. Open a newspaper, turn on a radio, turn on a TV and there you were.
Standing in front of a camera on the White House lawn. Standing in front of a camera at the Pentagon. Or the Capitol. Standing in front of a camera at this or that political event or natural disaster. On the set at the CBS Evening News or Face the Nation.
You were everywhere. So often were you in our living room, we could have set an extra place for you at dinner. Sometimes, we even did. You ate like a bird.
An aging white feathered carrier pigeon landing long enough to deliver a message, a bad one, usually. Yet however bad the message, there was a comfort that you were the bird with the vellum scroll attached to a tailfeather.
And our comfort sprang from your own, whether real or contrived. There never was a deer in the headlights look on your face, nor one of one that said “I’m smarter than you are,” as is common among many younger newsmen and women, and usually a lie or -- to be generous -- an affectation.
But you knew more than we did until you told us, which is what they paid you for.
Seventy eight years is not old, not anymore. But you could have retired a dozen years ago and no one would have faulted you. You have said in at least two or three of your 800 farewell interviews that you wanted to leave while you still can do the job and not be led to your wheelchair by a nurse.
Your colleague Walter Cronkite was 65 when he stepped down. But he was an exception at CBS and by all accounts, he regretted it. Morley Safer has a handful of years on you but is still at it. Mike Wallace was 89 when he retired but they had to hold him down to prevent him from returning during the remaining four years of his life.
So what will you do? Can you really sit still and just watch the lunacy of your home state Texas continue to unfold? Don’t you want to grab some of the Senators and House members you know by the throat and ask “What are you thinking?”
Maybe you will. But probably not. After all, in your own words, it wasn’t about a paycheck. And it wasn’t about being on TV. Turn on your set. You see anyone can do that these days.
It was about informing, whether from the anchor desk or the field. And it was about curiosity. And that stuff is not going to retire with you.
So find something to do. Maybe learn to raise carrier pigeons.
Note to the Grammar Police: There are nine fragments in this post.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2015