I wish there were such a thing as Fox News Watch T-shirts. Or Fox News Watch caps or cups or pens or bumper stickers.
If there were, I would offer them as prizes to those of you who wrote in with your suggestions for a moral for last week’s column.
But none of these things exist. You’re stuck with my gratitude, which can be used neither to cover your heads nor hold a beverage, to write a letter nor attach to the back ends of your cars. Sorry.
What I can do is salute a few of you publicly, especially Ed Witt and Drew Thomas, the two people who came closest to the moral that I had in mind for the column. Mr. Witt submitted the following: "You should always rehearse what you get ready to say in your head and see how it sounds before it comes out of your mouth. That is the value of a thoughtful pause."
And Mr. Thomas offered: "If you’re a journalist and aren’t reading from a carefully worded script, keep your mouth shut."
My moral is this: "It is a dangerous thing to separate a news anchor from his teleprompter. You never know what he will say. Neither, apparently, does he."
Messrs. Witt and Thomas would probably get T-shirts and caps.
Several of you took issue, in a manner of speaking, with my very use of the word "moral."
Kathy Montgomery: ". . . the majority of TV anchors and journalists do not have any morals." Jim Lovett: "You can’t really have a moral to the story when writing about the television network news media because they do not have morals." Doug Romain: "There are no morals in the news business." And Don Council: "The moral of the column is as follows: moral is the wrong word to use in any of these cases."
To the four of you I say this: Your indictments are too sweeping. There is no less morality, no less integrity, in journalism than there is in any other profession. And there are no fewer practitioners of competence, diligence and perceptiveness.
The largest number of responses played on the double meaning of the word "boob," which is both a synonym for what Des Moines anchorwoman Bobbi Silvernail had "augmented" and another name for a person of either gender whose mental capacities are a bit on the diminished side.
John and Mary Ann Burrell: "You shouldn’t take phony boobs seriously." Laura Jung: ". . . the biggest boobs are the ones who read the news." Mikki Jackson: ". . . you don’t have to start out with big ‘boobs’ to BE a big ‘boob!!!’" Dan Hellman: "Some of the biggest boobs in news are at the anchor desks." J. Macomber: "There’s no shortage of boobs on the boob tube." B.K. Gitlin: "It’s not only the male news anchors that are big boobs."
And this quatrain from Dan Evans:
They think we’re all/ A bunch of rubes,/ But TV news/ Has the biggest boobs.
Robert May paraphrased an aphorism of long standing when he wrote: "No (network) news is good news." And Douglas Haire made me laugh the loudest with his contribution: "The moral of the column is as follows: TV news anchors don’t have to be smarter than boat anchors."
But most of them are, Mr. Haire. And the best of them, of whom there are many, elevate their programs and the public comprehension of serious issues, rather than sink them.
All right, enough loafing on my part. Last week’s column did not have an ending; this week’s consisted mostly of quotes from others. Next week I’ll get back to work, offering my own thoughts in my own words.
I hope they’re as good as yours.
Eric Burns is the host of Fox News Watch which airs Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT and Sundays at 1:30 a.m. ET/10:30 p.m. PT, 6:30 a.m. ET/3:30 a.m. PT, and 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT .