Hayworth: CBS closed its ubiquitous eye with Biden interview

Few corporate logos have proven as iconic or enduring as the CBS eye, which will turn 71 this October.

From its genesis in TV’s monochromatic age, the eye has remained. It was colorized, as was most of TV by the mid- to late-1960s, and eventually universalized — adopted by all the divisions of CBS, though well-modulated grumbling was heard from CBS Radio.

But the real static came as CBS continued to grow in the 1970s, commensurate with the growth of television’s influence.

Author Robert Metz wrote “CBS: Reflections in a Bloodshot Eye,” a no-holds-barred “unofficial” history, in 1975, describing “a restless 24-hour-a-day mover and shaker of the national consciousness, irritating and pleasing, enlightening and vulgarizing by turns.”

While most Americans feel at home with computer and TV screens in residence, estimates this year put the number of “television households” in excess of 122 million. That adds up to a lot of eyes still gazing at the familiar “one-eyed monster.”

But as channels have expanded, ratings have contracted for those “legacy telecasters.”

Gone are the astronomical numbers and high regard Cronkite enjoyed during his nearly two decades as anchor of the “CBS Evening News.” Like Johnny Carson, his counterpart in another type of TV on another network, “Uncle Walter’s” instincts to foster a perception of fairness were comparable to the “King of Late Night’s” efforts to ensure he was an “equal opportunity comic,” targeting politicians of both parties with his topical humor.

Both leaned left politically, but only after leaving their positions did they champion political causes and advocate for their favorite candidates.

Four decades have passed since Cronkite said “that’s the way it is” for the last time, and six men and three women have ascended to the role of anchor (or co-anchor) of the “CBS Evening News.”

While the job is still considered one of the most prestigious in TV news, Scott Pelley, who manned the anchor desk for six years, returned full time to his role as a reporter on “60 Minutes,” and he embodies the new trend of so-called “advocacy journalism.”

Perhaps that’s why Pelley was picked to interview Joe Biden — appearing on “60 Minutes” for the first time since he moved into the White House — as the broadcast began its 55th season.

Pelley said the interview would “ignite a few controversies,” and that’s true — but not the portions Scott intended. Certainly, Pelley asked about important subjects — inflation, Ukraine, China and COVID-19 among them — with a “gentle touch.” His follow-ups were perfunctory; no real challenge was offered to any of Joe’s more “factually challenged” utterances.

Remarkably, but not unexpectedly, Pelley proffered a defense and endorsement of Biden, described as a theory: “Joe Biden is among the longest-serving politicians in Washington. If there is less bounce in the step than there once was, if the words don’t flow like they used to, maybe there’s something to be said for knowhow — five decades on the Hill and in the Oval.”

Oh. So being a senile Washington “lifer” is an asset for leadership?

“Big Guy,” J.D. Hayworth, Author

His voice quivered with emotion and affection as he said, “You were elected to the Senate in 1972. You were 29 years old. And in those days, it seemed the parties worked together to move the country forward. And I think many Americans feel that that no longer happens, and in fact, may be impossible now.”

Apparently, it was impossible to include discussion of Joe’s Philly speech, where he attacked “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans” as “threats to our Republic.” Viewers had to seek that out online at “60 Minutes Overtime.”

Those calling the shots at the CBS eye wanted fewer eyes to see that.

Just one question: Why?

Written by J.D. Hayworth for West Valley View ~ October 1, 2022

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