It’s very sad. Howard Kurtz yesterday confirmed the demise of Ted Koppel’s version of “Nightline.” Poor Ted never quite reached the stature of the late Big Three of Jennings, Brokaw, and Rather, though in his mind no doubt he surpassed all three combined. I’ll remember him in a number of ways — and he’ll certain be missed by comparison with the dumbed-down entertainment version of “Nightline” that will succeed him — but in particular for the haughtiness of his most recent performances.
At the recent memorial for Peter Jennings he weirdly obsessed over Jennings’s attractiveness to women. The night of President Bush’s New Orleans primetime speech he tried unsuccessfully to orchestrate anti-Bush reactions. But the best moment was his clueless extension that night of condolences to Jefferson Parish president Aaron Broussard over the death of his mother in a flooded nursing home. The gaffe went uncommented, so just listen for yourself, while we still have Ted to kick around:
TED KOPPEL: “You suffered a grievous loss. Your mother died in one of the nursing homes, and I understand that nothing the president could possibly have said can compensate you for your loss. But are you able to listen to that speech tonight and say, finally I think the Federal government is where we need it to be?”
AARON BROUSSARD: “Sir, the mother that died was the mother of my manager of my EOC and it was a grievous loss. It certainly is that. He’s very close to all of us. He managed 500,000 people to recovery but he couldn’t save his mother.”
TED KOPPEL: “Thank you for correcting me.”
On Sunday, Tim Russert of “Meet the Press” again ended up with egg on his face in trying to deal with the viperous Broussard. (Broussard is the kind of Southern pol who makes Bill Clinton look like a Boy Scout.)
But in Koppel’s case, the egg throwing was self-inflicted. For once in his life, Broussard was a complete innocent.