Farewell to Ted Koppel
Twenty five years after launching the show during the prolonged Iran hostage crisis, Ted Koppel broadcast his last episode of ABC's Nightline last night. It was mostly devoted to memories of his favorite college professor, Morry Schwartz, who died after a long bout with Lou Gehrig's Disease. At the close, Koppel admonished viewers to "be nice" to his successors in the late night time slot, or else ABC would replace Nightline with a comedy show to compete against Jay Leno and Dave Letterman. Now, that would be a revolting development! For obsessed policy wonks like me, it has been something of a luxury counting on ending the day with an in-depth examination of the hot topic of the day for the past quarter century. We should not take such things for granted. Always stiff as a robot, bordering on pompous, Koppel was an easy target of satiric ridicule on Saturday Night Live. Unlike many others in his business, however, he was a thoroughly knowledgeable professional, 100 percent genuine. In an era when Edward R. Murrow has received tribute both in Hollywood (with the release of Good Night and Good Luck) and in the music industry (a song by Fleetwood Mac), perhaps there is hope for first-rate broadcast journalism after all.