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End of an Era

I didn't know Peter Jennings (search) well, but I knew him a little. We first met when we covered the same trial in 1970 — he for ABC and me for NBC. I always found him to be a gentleman and excellent at what he did.

Jennings was the first major network anchor to recognize the significance of religion as news. He hired a correspondent who reported on the subject. He told me he thought it was important and he was right. Even after the correspondent was let go, Jennings continued to report on religion. It fascinated him.

Conservatives expressed frustration that Jennings frequently went beyond reporting the news to commenting on it. He often would make little asides after a report on the Iraq war, or a particular policy of a Republican administration that reflected his liberal slant.

The last of broadcast journalism's dinosaurs is now extinct: Tom Brokaw (search) and Dan Rather (search) through retirement and now Peter Jennings.

It doesn't matter who replaces them for at least two reasons. One is that any replacement will be a liberal in outlook and in practice. The other reason is that the informational gatekeepers are no more.

Cable TV and the Internet have crashed through the gate and taken over the palace. More people can find out more things on their own than ever before.

The big three networks no longer decide what we should know and when we should know it. That's good for every citizen and for America.

What do you think? Send your responses to: afterhours@foxnews.com.

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Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated op-ed columnist. He joined Fox News Channel in 1997 as a political contributor. His latest book is "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America" is available in bookstores now. Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribune.com.