Les Marcott
Scene4 Magazine-inView

october 2006

A Brief History of the CBS Evening News


Ok children, before you go to sleep let me tell you a bedtime story.  Once upon a time, there was a gray haired congenial fellow with a courtly manner who possessed one of the most soothing voices ever heard.  His name was Uncle Walter.  And at 5:30 every evening we would gather 'round our old black and white television set  to watch Uncle Walter regale us with stories concerning the events and happenings of the day.  That is if the weather was just right, the dogs were not yelping, and if dad could position the rabbit ears just so.  From Uncle Walter we learned about the Kennedy assassination, the wonderful war in a faraway land called Vietnam, the terrible war in a faraway land called Vietnam, the moon landing and a scandal called Watergate among other things.  We believed all of Uncle Walter's stories were true.  After all, he was considered the most trusted man in America.  And we living in the backwaters of Texas had no other source for stories.  This was the age before cable and the internet.  Now as I grew older, I learned that Uncle Walter's storytelling was called "reporting" and his broadcasts were something called The CBS Evening News.  Even now I have a hard time discerning what is a story and what is news.  But now as I grow much older and hopefully wiser I realize what is important and what is not.

Then after years of telling us stories, Uncle Walter decided he didn't want to do that anymore.  He wanted to sail on his yacht off the coast of  Martha's Vineyard.  His replacement was a fellow named Gunga Dan.  Now Gunga Dan was nothing like Uncle Walter.  He was brash, cocky, aggressive, and unpredictable.  Everything Uncle Walter was not.  And besides, Gunga Dan didn't always play nice.  During the course of his career he was punched, shoved, threatened, tear gassed, and ridiculed.  But Gunga Dan had no fear.  He reported from the middle of hurricanes, the middle of America, war torn nations, and once confronted the dreadful dictator King Richard.  And because of all of that I just mentioned, Gunga Dan was considered rather biased in his storytelling by those in power and those of a particular political persuasion.  Though far from perfect, Gunga Dan was truly committed to substantive, fair, and accurate reporting.  But his enemies were unrelenting.  They fumed and foamed at the mouth, praying for the day of his downfall. Then after years and years of waiting, they finally got their wish.  It seems Gunga Dan ran a story about King George in which he didn't authenticate documents relating to the King's military service or lack thereof.  Uh oh, all the King's horses and all the King's men made sure Gunga Dan was never put together again.  So poof, Gunga Dan was gone and so was the CBS Evening News as we knew it.

Gentleman Bob was named the interim replacement. He was a gray haired, congenial fellow with a courtly manner who possessed one of the most soothing voices ever heard.  Wait a minute, that sounds a lot like Uncle Walter.  Anyhow, during the interim, the search for Gunga Dan's permanent replacement commenced.  After searching far and wide, it was announced with much hype and fanfare that the perky Katabatic Katie would take over as storyteller in chief.  Once upon a time Katabatic Katie had her own morning program which consisted of watered down news and the meeting and greeting of A-list celebrities.  But nonetheless, she was deemed worthy to regale us with the stories of our day. Because now my children more than ever, it's about the all important ratings game, audience share, demographics, and making a profit for your corporate taskmaster.  Well my little ones, I see my little ones, that you are almost asleep. As the great poet T.S. Eliot once wrote, "humankind cannot bear too much reality."  But that's fine, you will no longer get reality from The CBS Evening News.  I shall end my story with a word Gunga Dan used to sign off his broadcasts with years ago.  It's "Courage."  The word is more appropriate now than ever.  Lullaby and goodnight.

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About This Article

©2006 Les Marcott
©2006 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Les Marcott is a songwriter, musician, performer and writer. His latest book of monologues, stories and short plays, Character Flaws, is published by AviarPress.
For more of his commentary and articles, check the



Scene4 Magazine-International Magazine of Performing Arts and Media

october 2006

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