Title of speech: In remembrance of Network News
Date: September 2004
Location: Our Lady of the Forged Documents, N.Y.
Theme: “They slipped the surly bonds of Earth, to out-of-context edit an interview with God.”
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
With the exception of a few tear-soaked anchors and producers, this is not a day of mourning, but rather a day of celebration. This is a day when we say “goodbye” to Network News, but only because Network News decided to say “goodbye” to us many years ago.
Some say this passing was to be expected, and others, still in denial, say it is a death that has not yet taken place. Like the old man being carried out to the cart being pushed by someone yelling, “Bring out yer dead!” – in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” – Network News is futilely insisting, “But I’m not dead yet!” Yes, my friends, despite their denial, it is gone – gone from my TV screen, and increasing numbers of your screens.
What was the cause of this passing? Many may say an increasing liberal bias caused Network News to slip so quickly that even the most skilled of media paramedics were unable to chest-paddle it back to life. That was partially the case, but the final nail went into the coffin when aging anchors and producers demonstrated an abject inability to understand modern technologies, such as the miracles that can be produced by just one agenda-driven person with Microsoft Word and Photoshop. If you created a picture of George W. Bush shining Nixon’s wingtips with hundred dollar bills so Dick would keep him out of Vietnam, as Amelia Earhart and Bigfoot look on, you too could have had a lead story!
When the line between “Network News” and “The Weekly World News” became blurred, Network News’ downward spiral began. As its mental state declined, Network News could often be seen being wheeled through a grocery store checkout line, and growing furious at the fact that they were scooped on the “Tony Blair meets with space aliens” story. The frustration led to further decline in health, and ultimately, its demise.
Mourn not, my friends, for Network News had a good life. It’s been witness to history – It’s seen global changes, assassinations, moon landings, presidential resignations, interviewed dictators in a powder-puff fashion, and domestic leaders in a dictator-like fashion.
Network News has taken us around the world without having to leave our living rooms, to show us only what they wanted us to see. Network News also devoted its life to keeping us safe, such as years ago when they pointed out that we shouldn’t drive GM pickup trucks because they blew up, provided two factors were involved: 1) a side-swipe accident concurrent with, 2) a lit stick of dynamite being dropped into the gas tank. There are many other examples.
The most recent Network News problem was when forged documents were used to provide phony validity to a presupposition – the Network News’ version of basketball’s “triple double.” This sank Network News even further into the depths of irrelevancy … but I guess that’s why they’re called “anchors.”
We’ll miss Network News. With no more of Rather’s “Texanisms,” we’ll be, as Dan may say, “as frustrated as a perverted farmhand with an electric cow milker during a power outage.”
We’ll miss laughing as Tom Brokaw attempts to say “The liberation of Sulaimany left locals leery of large lethal landmines.” We may also long for the good old days, when Peter Jennings delivered lines with snobbish enunciations that gave Network News a lofty air of rude superiority over viewers, as if it were in the Hamptons dealing with panhandlers.
Network News led a long life, and now the time has come to say “Goodbye.” They couldn’t keep up with the advent of cable television, the Internet, news websites, blogs and all other modern forms of dissemination and distribution of the news – and, most importantly, they could no longer fully control what people thought of the news.
It was also the speed of these alternative forms of communication that killed them. In their race to compete at lightning speed while maintaining the integrity of a glacier pace, they were left with scraps. The only scoops they were able to get were the kind you have to follow a horse with, and which contained similar material.
Goodbye, Network News … we hardly watched ya!
Thank you for coming today. We’ll probably gather here again very soon … I hear they’re pretty close to pulling the plug on the New York Times.