TV Anchors ‘Were the Closest Thing That America Had to National Leaders on 9/11,’ Claims Former Politico Editor

AP Photo/Richard Drew, File

It’s been twenty years since the 9/11 terror attacks, and in that time, those of us who are old enough to remember the day can still recall details of where we were when it happened. We all have our thoughts about the attack and its impact. Most recognize it as an attack on our culture and freedom. Others blame American foreign policy for inviting the attack.


But today, I came across a new, and completely bizarre takeaway from the 9/11 terror attacks, when CNN’s resident potato retweeted an AP article accompanied by a quote from Garrett Graff, the former editor-in-chief of Politico Magazine, who said that network TV anchors like Tom Brokaw of NBC News, Peter Jennings of ABC and Dan Rather of CBS “were the closest thing that America had to national leaders on 9/11.”

“They were the moral authority for the country on that first day, fulfilling a very historical role of basically counseling the country through this tragedy at a moment its political leadership was largely silent and largely absent from the conversation.”

“Especially with political leaders in bunkers or otherwise out of sight,” Stelter agreed as he sat there in his big boy pants, proud of his indirect accomplishment of being in the same profession.

Umm… Really? Americans were certainly glued to their televisions on that day. But we weren’t flocking to our televisions because of them. Was television coverage important that day? Yes, for sure. Amidst the chaos and confusion, Americans sought answers from our television screens. But it wasn’t leadership we got from television anchors. It was reporting. With Washington, D.C., also under attack, our political leaders were, as Graff noted, “largely absent from the conversation” because they had to remain secure. But that doesn’t mean TV anchors filled a gap in leadership. They merely acted as a lens, because the real leadership we witnessed was not from old men sitting behind news desks, but in the brave first responders who selflessly risked and lost their lives to save others.


But TV anchors were the real “national leaders” on 9/11? Give me a break. Television anchors were doing their jobs. Only someone in the media could make such a tone-deaf assessment.



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