Okay, I don’t want to come across as some kind of hater. I believe in basic human respect for all individuals. That said, what the hell is up with all of the Peter Jennings retrospectives?
It was bad enough when Channel 12 interrupted my nightly fix of Seinfeld reruns to do an hour-long death announcement and remembrance when Jennings died earlier this week. Then for the next two days it was one of the top stories in newspapers, TV and radio. Even as late as yesterday, one of the major networks (they’re all the same, really) was doing a prime time “Peter Jennings was a hero” special.
Again, I’ve got no personal issues with Jennings. As far as I know he was kind to his kids and didn't beat his wife. I wouldn’t wish lung cancer on anyone, and any loss of human life is a tragedy. And that’s kind of the point. What makes Peter Jennings more important, more of a loss, more deserving of a week of prime-time coverage, than, say, any of the dead soldiers in Iraq?
My theory is that “The Media” are the only ones who really care about Jennings’ death – at least to the point of the blanket coverage that it has received. I think that other “journalists” are professionally obligated to make a big deal out of this for the sole purpose of adding more importance to their jobs than they deserve. I mean, let’s be clear, Jennings read a teleprompter. Sure, he spent some time in the field, told stories, asked a few questions. But did he really contribute to humanity to an extent that would justify all of the death coverage?
Did he invent a cure for polio? Did he decipher the laws of relativity? Did he contribute to peace in our time? Did he even hit 60 home runs in a season?
The only reason he’s getting the coverage is because of his pseudo-celebrity. In my book, that puts him just a couple of steps up from Paris Hilton or Donald Trump. Come to think of it, Trump actually creates jobs for people (of course, he also fires them).
So to paraphrase the Bard, Jennings was a man, take him for all in all, and is deserving of respect for that. But he wasn’t the American hero that his colleagues are trying to make him.