Not too surprisingly, in their obituary for Peter Jennings, The Washington Post is waxing nostalgic for the days of what it calls “Jovian Authority“:
“Cable, satellite networks and the vast, chattering online universe [that has] gone far to create a world in which no three men will ever again deliver the news to an entire nation with such Jovian authority.”
Well you know what? Jovian authority sucks. Jovian authority is what gave us Jayson Blair and CBS’s forged documents about Bush and the National Guard.
But what’s really ironic here is that journalists should be the first ones to remind us that Jovian authority sucks. In the crucible of modern American journalism known as Vietnam, correspondents earned their stripes by pulling back the curtain that protected the Jovian authority with which President Johnson and his generals declared the war effort to be a great success.
Then, in the aftermath of Watergate and Vietnam, America found itself in a situation where the network anchormen, and not the president of the United States, enjoyed the benefits of Jovian authority. Unsurprisingly, this imbalance of power is what has led the editors of the Times and the Post, along with the rest of the embattled media, to wax nostalgic for days gone by.
And they’ve been doing it for nearly a decade–arguably for 25 years, even knowing that technology was reshaping how the public received its news and opinion.