29 years as a network radio news correspondent is enough. The clock has run out on my oath of impartiality.
During my time at ABC, and before that at RKO, CNN, the BBC, IRN and LBC, (why are most networks acronyms?) I took that oath seriously, and was lucky enough to be a eyewitness to history. I covered presidential campaigns, foreign wars, OPEC conferences, the near collapse of the financial system and two royal weddings.
From the fall of the Berlin Wall in the heady days of November 1989 to the streets of New York on that dreadful morning of 9/11, I tried to be as fair and as objective as possible.
Now I’m free to say what I think. And I have a lot to say in this blog and on the radio.
You will disagree with some stuff, but hopefully I won’t be blowhard. We have more than enough of that already. No one is right always, and if my time as a reporter has taught be anything it is that all of us are at least somewhat flawed and a little bit foolish.
“What those years bred in me, more than anything else, was an abiding revulsion for ideology, in all its guises,” the great New York Times correspondent John F. Burns wrote last weekend in a retirement column summing up what he learned while reporting from “some of the nastiest places in the world.”
Unlike John Burns I made a lousy war reporter. The things I carried back included a view that a measure of ideology is vital for any democracy.
But I passionately agree that “it can be depressing beyond words to hear the loyalists of every political creed – whether of the left of of the right – adopt the unyielding certainties common in totalitarian states.”
Wisdom can be found in unlikely places. But our public square has too often become an echo chamber for narrow, angry rhetoric.
The internet was supposed to open us up to a vast array of new information sources. But instead most of us have used it to retreat into our cozy cultural bubbles.
It’s time to listen with respect to those who make us uncomfortable. Successful business leaders and entrepreneurs know this already. The chattering classes are lagging behind.
This may be hopelessly wrong, but I believe the marketplace for snarky, rigid, and negative rhetoric has reached a low water mark.
I’m setting up shop as a solutions guy. A podcast called “How Do We Fix It?” will be launched next month and a talk radio show may follow. As I said at the end of my last newscast at ABC, “thanks for listening.”