Friday, December 18, 2009

Charlie Gibson Hailed for Palin Sourness, Criticized for 'Gossipy' Bill Ayers Questions to Obama

St. Petersburg Times media critic and Huffington Post contributor Eric Deggans offered a tribute to departing ABC World News anchor Charles Gibson, but it came with a very typical liberal slant on the 2008 campaign. Gibson had a "theatrical seriousness" in grilling Sarah Palin, but it was a "surprise" that he lowered himself in a Democratic debate to "gossipy questions like Obama’s supposed ties to William Ayers."

Since when is a man who blows up police stations and bathrooms in the Capitol qualify as a "gossipy" subject, like he’d be grist for TMZ? Deggans merely called him a onetime "radical" without any acknowledgment of his bombings. Here’s how he put it:

When he took apart vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin in a series of interviews, he could look a bit like a stern college professor -- John Houseman from Paper Chase, for anyone old enough to get the reference -- scowling over his reading glasses with a theatrical seriousness.

Which is why it was such a surprise when he and George Stephanopoulos, considered among the most serious network news anchors, spent almost the first hour of a two-hour Democratic debate last year grilling Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on gossipy questions like Obama's supposed ties to William Ayers, a onetime '60s-era protest radical.

Sadly, this is how the 2008 election will probably be taught in many secondary schools and colleges, that the Ayers issue was a trashy tabloidish subject that "real journalists" didn’t lower themselves to cover.

Deggans also noted that Gibson didn’t start a parade for himself about his departure (like Brian Williams did for his fifth anniversary in the NBC anchor chair), and he wasn’t the new-model anchor that pops up like a "frustrated stand-up comic" like Williams:

Gibson also leaves ABC as the last old school TV anchor. He's not very active online and takes his anchor role seriously. Despite a long history in morning television, he is not willing to pop up in comedy sketches the way NBC anchor and frustrated stand up comic Williams does for Jay Leno and The Daily Show. And he's not about to become a fixture in either tabloid news or the online world, in the way Katie Couric has managed.

—Tim Graham is Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center.

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