Remember Bernie Shaw? He was the face of CNN back when news was delivered straight and taken seriously.
Bernard Shaw, Peter Arnett and John Holliman were the three sterling journalists holed up on the ninth floor of Baghdad’s Al-Rashid Hotel in 1991, giving the world a front-row seat to the Allied bombing of the city. Their coverage marked an historical event: the first coverage of a war live from both sides.
Peter Arnett was one of those voices silenced at the beginning of the Iraq War - for daring to do the same.
John Holliman was killed in an Atlanta car crash in 1998 at age 49.
Having been with CNN since its launch as a 24-hour news network, Bernie Shaw retired as its principal anchor in 2001, just six months before what would have been the biggest story of his award-winning journalism career.
It was good to hear Shaw’s voice as he joined CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in “The Situation Room” Thursday afternoon to discuss the moderator’s role in the upcoming Biden-Palen debate.
Bernie and I are old-school journalists, inspired at an early age by heroes of a profession which we saw as noble – The Fourth Estate to which we would aspire. He, a Marine who came face to face with Walter Cronkite, and I, a little kid awed by comic-strip reporter Brenda Starr. Both with an appreciation of history and the impact of the printing press.
Perhaps that’s why his words touch me so when Blitzer asked him to critique media coverage of the current presidential campaign.
“Well,” Shaw replied, “my lone regret is that there has been some sloshing over from just straight journalism, news reporting and hard news reporting to actually enabling writers and people on the air - television and radio - out of one side of their mouths to report the news and out of the other to actually tell readers and listeners and viewers what they personally think about the news. I am an old-fashioned journalist when it comes to that. My idols were Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite. I don't believe people should know my personal opinions. I have strong personal opinions, and they have no place in reporting the news and certainly not in reporting presidential news, but I am staggered at what I see and read and observe on the Internet.”
Imagine, Bernie, a whole new generation coming along with no idea that’s the way it used to be.
Just two old journalists sharing a moment.