Wednesday, April 19, 2006

My Favorite Guy on TV

Howard Kurtz has a long profile on one of my very favorite people in TV news - Brit Hume. Kurtz covers Hume's disillusion with how the MSM was covering Republicans and the liberal bias he kept seeing in the news when he was working for the networks in the 1980s and 1990s.
By then Hume had become a consultant to ABC News, and the following year he was offered a correspondent's job. Hume says he was "terrible," often standing with his head cocked to one side or looking stiff and unnatural, and that "it was humiliating." But eventually he learned the craft and covered the House for 11 years. Hume became more conservative as he saw how much money Congress wasted, and found the coverage of President Reagan "so biased," including the use of the derisive term "trickle-down economics."

When he was assigned to cover Walter Mondale's campaign to unseat Reagan in 1984, Hume says that "personally, I didn't want Mondale to win the election. But I admired him and liked him and felt it was my job to give him a fair shake." Hume was "a real favorite of Mondale's," says Joe Lockhart, who worked on that campaign. In 1988, however, Michael Dukakis's campaign complained to ABC that Hume's coverage of Vice President Bush was much softer than the network's reporting on the Democratic nominee.

After moving up to the White House beat in 1989, Hume occasionally got into arguments with anchor Peter Jennings over how stories should be handled.

"He and Peter had some clashes over coverage of the White House," says Charlie Gibson, who worked closely with Hume before becoming a co-host of "Good Morning America." "I saw Brit make arguments to Peter when he felt Peter was taking a position that was left of center, or wrong."

Hume says he came to feel "out of step with ABC News's natural tendencies." He recalls challenging an assignment about how the first President Bush "isn't doing anything" by saying: "Has it ever occurred to you that this guy's a Republican and Republicans don't believe that government is the solution to all the country's problems?"
Hume does some of the best interviews on TV and is willing to break from the herd whether it be on how he covers the Swift Boat Veterans, the revolt of the retired generals, or the Duke lacrosse team. He doesn't take the conventional wisdom and run with it, but is willin to step back and search out a more balanced perspective. He's a classy guy and interesting to listen to. I just worry that he'll give in to his wife and retire to play golf. That would be a real loss for many viewers.