It was an early morning phone call — from of all places, Dubai. Somebody called Darnton. Informing me that I was no longer required to be the citation reader for the winners of the 2010 George Polk Awards, sponsored by Long Island University.
Succeeding the late Douglas Edwards as reader, I had for years carried the tradition begun by CBS soon after Correspondent Polk was slain in 1948 during Greece’s civil war. When broached to me it was said a stipend accompanied the task, but in honor of Doug, and his predecessors, I declined, suggesting instead that the emolument go against the expenses of the donor. I was proud to follow the foot steps of Murrow, Edwards, and the like, men I had known and worked with. From LIU I worked with Dr. Robert Spector, coordinator of the Humanities Division, professor emeritus of English, and a poet. Dr. Spector had died last year, hence the call from a Darnton, who had as Curator assumed that role as well. As it turned out, Darnton, a NYT reporter, said he was a good friend of Tom Brokaw’s, who he figured could bring more to the till.
I e-mailed Dr. Ralph Engelman, chairman of the LIU journalism department, saying “Not having been fired from Dubai before, I’d appreciate your confirmation of this intelligence.” He did. He went on to invite me to the April 16 luncheon.
I asked, “If you’d been fired from the Presidency, is it likely you would attend the inauguration speech of your successor?”
Ah, but does it matter? Does CBS regard the reading of 14 or so citations on an annual basis as a worthy enterprise?
They never did find out who killed George Polk, the right or the left in that contentious time. But, blessings on those who labor in the vineyards and whose work is recognized, from here to Dubai.