“The nation was plunged into shock. Nothing like this had ever happened.”
—“Face the Nation” host Bob Shieffer, looking forward to the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination, and describing the aftermath of the murder in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
As it is, younger generations have a tendency to assume that what is happening now is unprecedented, that every crisis is the worst crisis, that what they are experiencing is unique. The remedy to this self-centered, ignorant and crippling cognitive malady is education, resulting in perspective. Unfortunately, the schools are doing increasingly little to provide useful historical context, and our leaders find it useful to exploit the low-information voter (worker, driver, patient, parent, student) for its own devices.
That leaves the field of journalism. Journalists, however, do not generally go into the arena of describing the present because of any particular respect or appreciation for the past, so their ability to convey perspective is usually limited as well. Fortunately, there are still older, veteran, experienced pros like Bob Shieffer, 76 years young, who…who…who appears to be as irresponsibly ignorant of basic American history as the college goofs Jay Leno makes look silly on his “Jay Walking” segments. How is this possible?
What could Shieffer possibly mean by saying of JFK’s assassination that “Nothing like this had ever happened” that is not flagrantly misleading, careless, ignorant and wrong? For those of you as bad off as Bob, there had been three previous Presidential assassinations before JFK, and all of them were big deals. Lincoln’s was a bigger deal than Kennedy’s in fact, because the U.S. had barely finished a war, and Lincoln’s assassination caused legitimate fears that it was part of a second Southern assault. Let’s see…maybe we can give Bob the benefit of the doubt and find an explanation for his statement that doesn’t involve having to shop for rest homes:
- He meant that Kennedy had never been assassinated before. True, but hardly necessary to point out.
- He meant that no President who was under the age of 50 had been assassinated before.
- He meant that no President who was a Democrat had been assassinated before.
- He meant that no President had ever been shot in the head before. No, that can’t be it, can it?
- He meant that no President had ever been shot with his wife beside…no, that’s not right either. That any President had been shot under circumstances that raised suspicions of a conspiracy…wait, that’s wrong too! What could Bob possibly have been thinking? Did he mean that no President had been killed in Texas. Perhaps? With a rifle instead of a handgun? In a car? I would say in a Ford, but Lincoln was murdered in Ford’s Theater…
- He meant, “I have gone senile and forgotten my basic American history. Bvuh.”
- He meant, “I don’t really give a damn anymore, and neither do the producers and editors at CBS.”
I must assume it was the latter. Shieffer’s ridiculous, ahistorical hyperbole wasn’t even live, but pre-recorded. Neither he nor CBS News apparently care that they spread misinformation and make ignorant Americans more so, or they are jaw-droppingly ignorant themselves. Bob said this, everyone heard it, and said, “Good enough! Let’s tell our audience that nothing like Kennedy’s assassination had ever occurred before. Really, who cares?”
No respect, no diligence, no competence….and this kind of shoddy, lazy , crummy, brain-rotting journalism HAS happened before. Just about every day, in fact. Time to retire, Bob. The question is, who is going to be any better?
Facts: CBS News