Peter Jennings

AWOL

RETIRED GENERAL Wesley Clark has faced many enemies in his career, from the Viet Cong to Slobodan Milosevic. At last week’s Democratic debate in New Hampshire, however, Clark was ambushed by an unexpected foe. ABC News anchor Peter Jennings took the general to task for staying silent while liberal filmmaker—and Clark supporter—Michael Moore labeled President Bush a “deserter” at a campaign rally. “That’s a reckless charge not supported by the facts,” Jennings admonished Clark, all but demanding that he exhibit “a better example of ethical behavior” by repudiating the claim. An off-guard Clark

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Notebook

ACADEMIC QUESTION PETER JENNINGS HAS LONG HAD A grating tendency to demonstrate his intellectualism, often using his anchor's desk as a platform to showcase his supposed erudition. And at no time during the presidential primaries has that pompous proclivity been on clearer display than during Jennings's questioning of the candidates at the January 22 New Hampshire debate. Of John Edwards, ABC's “World News Tonight” host asked, “[C]ould you take a minute to tell us what you know about the practice of Islam that would reassure Muslims throughout the world who will be listening to you that Presid

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Second Act

Midway through last Thursday’s Democratic debate in New Hampshire, co-moderator Peter Jennings decided to have a little fun with Al Sharpton. The reverend wants to be treated as a serious presidential candidate—even though he has never held elective office, has visited New Hampshire only four times (twice for debates), and has offered no real policy proposals. So Jennings decided to play along. If “you have the opportunity to nominate someone to be chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, what kind of person would you consider for the job?” the ABC News anchor asked. ”You can name someone in par

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Second Act

Midway through last Thursday's Democratic debate in New Hampshire, co-moderator Peter Jennings decided to have a little fun with Al Sharpton. The reverend wants to be treated as a serious presidential candidate—even though he has never held elective office, has visited New Hampshire only four times (twice for debates), and has offered no real policy proposals. So Jennings decided to play along. If “you have the opportunity to nominate someone to be chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, what kind of person would you consider for the job?” the ABC News anchor asked.

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The Ungreat Washed

The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad By Fareed Zakaria (W.W. Norton, 286 pp., $24.95) I. Midway through Fareed Zakaria’s attack on democracy, one realizes that his animus toward popular government is not only theoretical but also personal, and in some ways it is even quite understandable.

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A Year Later

A society that is notorious for its inability to remember is about to do nothing else. America eats the past, which is why people eaten by the past run to it; but even the American creed of newness will pause on September 11, and learn its limitations. The yahrzeit is here, and the least lachrymose country on earth is devising its rituals of commemoration. The interesting question is whether the memory will have life outside the media. September 11 will be a test of the American sense of reality, for it marks the anniversary of a day on which reality bested every representation of it.

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Stagestruck

Wilson examines politicians and their public images in his review of Kiku Adatto's book.

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Old Habits

In this space a few weeks ago I published some words critical of Peter Jennings, the anchorman for ABC's "World News Tonight." My views provoked a good deal of mail in Jennings's defense—but none of it from ordinary TV-watching citizens.

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Here it is, days after the exchange of vows, and I’m still groggy from having watched television’s coverage of the royal wedding. I thought the sun would never set on it. First there were all those preliminary “specials,” and then the day itself went on forever, a seeming eternity of coverage. From the dead of the night into the afternoon, the stalwarts of the news stayed on the job, really covering the whole occasion, like soot.

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