Praise, in a Hard Time
With the Putin pandemic raging and the Covid pandemic lessening, two public figures caught my attention in the past 24 hours.
As a journalist, I watched with awe and admiration Thursday evening as Shepard Smith, on live television, reported the ominous news about the nuclear plant in southern Ukraine.
For whatever reason Smith and CNBC were ahead of other TV outlets on my tube. Lately, we have been switching to Smith at 7 PM because it seems more like an old-fashioned hour of evening news.
Shepard is a pro, and he was welcome on Thursday as his station recognized the seriousness of the breaking news about undisciplined and amoral Russian soldiers bombarding the nuclear plant. This has been a worst-case scenario for those of us who can recall the end of World War Two and then word that the Soviet Union also had atomic bombs.
So there was Smith, showing a frozen video of tracer bullets lighting up the night sky, seven time zones away, and flares dropping and smoke rising. Hell on Earth. However, Smith kept his wits and cautioned that this video was already minutes old and much could have changed.
Smith never panicked (that we could tell) and his clearly capable staff backed him up, finding experts who gave best-case and worst-case scenarios. Smith, with his soft southern drawl and experience of working abroad, was clearly reading whatever came across his laptop. and trying to make sense of it.
I have covered coal-mine disasters and city armed standoffs and know how helpless one can feel without solid facts. Yet Smith collated bits and pieces of news and expertise, keeping his wits. I cannot imagine anybody doing better. The network wisely kept him on for a second hour, until they could ascertain that, whatever the Russian thuggery and stupidity – undisciplined boys with heavy weapons – the plant was apparently unharmed. That was good enough, for the moment.
I really don’t know much about Shepard Smith, except that he used to be on Fox, but jumped ship nearly two years ago. His politics? Whatever. They do not get in the way of his news smarts.
Smith reported his way through a fresh crisis. We could breathe, momentarily. I want to send word to an admirable journalist, for excellence in live time. Thanks, man.
* * *
The other person I want to praise is Eric Adams, the new mayor of New York City. I have liked and admired him from afar – his Brooklyn roots, his career with the NYPD, and the way he fought off diabetes and obesity with a professed vegetarian diet. Does he slip in some fish protein once in a while? Who cares?
There are questions about his politics and who supports him, and with how much, but that could be said about most, or all, politicians. As a city kid, I just like him.
On Friday,Adams stood in Times Square and announced that the Covid mandates were mostly gone, given the sharp drop in new cases and deaths in the city. Some of us are not ready to leap into a crowded theater or restaurant, but we don’t have to.
Mayor Adams gave warm praise to Dr. David Chokshi, who stayed on as NY health commissioner in the first months of 2022, to get the city to this point of documented hope. Dr. Chokshi has been a welcome presence on public-service announcements, with his knowledge and gentle smile.
The mayor also praised somebody else – Bill DeBlasio, the previous mayor. Speaking with fervor, the mayor noted that “Bill” had taken a lot of pot-shots from critics, but had made decisions and presided over a terrible time. To paraphrase the new mayor: “It’s not easy. Try it some time. He gave us eight years, and we’re still standing.”
Not every politician, in my home town or anywhere, has the grace to praise a predecessor. I have no way of knowing how the Adams regime will go, but the new mayor showed a heady mix of street smarts and grace. Thank you, sir.
3/4/2022 03:22:14 pm
It probably makes too much sense to actually happen, but it seems like this piece should be an Op-Ed somewhere.
3/4/2022 05:08:24 pm
Jim: Nice to hear from a colleague. You've worked stories on deadline, so you know...I'd be the first to agree that print is a different animal from live TV. I can't imagine the impulse to make a statement or put things together on air, and have the poise to realize, "I don't know that yet."
Ina Lee Selden
3/4/2022 04:25:08 pm
Adams looks a lot different 45 minutes to your west. After DeBlasios deep cuts to the Sanitation Department's budget, Adams has suggested further compromising the quality of life in NYC by suggesting composting be suspended (campaign promises to maintain this service be damned). He supports the 12,000 restaurant shacks that now provide a haven and buffet for rats. The shacks are source of loud noise in residential areas, and an impediment to firefighters and their equipment,. They impede special vehicles that mobility challenged individuals depend on. The sheds pose dangers from improperly stored propane tanks, the non-code wiring to non-code air conditioners and heaters. Adams supports making these conditions permanent. And there's more, lots more. As mentioned above, our new mayor looks a lot different from the five boroughs.
3/4/2022 05:11:57 pm
Ina: Another colleague/friend. Point well taken, I have not been in 'the city" in two years, but I read and watch news from there. I'm sure you're right, in the belly of the beast. So you don't think those hideous shacks (I can't imagine eating in one) will disappear now that vox populi has decided everything is okay? You're living it...so you know, Thanks, GV
3/4/2022 08:48:40 pm
Although I don't care to go out for a quiet, romantic meal in a traffic lane on a busy city street and, if my residential neighborhood had any shacks, my sentiments would be NIMBY, I'm not ready to judge Adams on an issue like this which I am sure has multiple facets. It is nice to hear him praise his predecessor, and that is George's good point, not to be diluted.
3/4/2022 05:45:07 pm
Dear George: as these times are full of fake news, it’s great to find a journalist on TV who is concerned about the truth. I also have hope for the new mayor of NYC. He seems a nice guy.
3/4/2022 06:22:07 pm
The mayor is my client, so I would never criticize on the internet, but that said, I've liked the appointees I've met so far.
Edwin W. Martin Jr
3/4/2022 07:11:01 pm
Josh, i googled, found three in NYC, who could use word client, although One would probably use “patient.” Attorney, I’m guessing that’s you, (high probability); realtor- possible; dentist, patient, although as a speech language professional, I preferred client. Lehigh?
Edwin W. Martin Jr
3/4/2022 07:16:15 pm
A long way, in many dimentions from NYC, but the Gov. of Fla, known here as Death Santis, or I also call him De$anti$, told HS kids that maks were “Covid theatre’” and they should take them off, not useful. They were still mourning a classmate 17 who died of Covid.
3/5/2022 01:11:14 am
3/5/2022 09:03:28 am
George, Sometime, somewhere I'll read something that you write that I don't like....that day may never come...certainly not today. Brilliant
3/6/2022 04:04:47 pm
About a moth back, we met friends for a Broadway theater matinee. Regardless of the sanitation conditions adjacent to them, none of the outdoor eating enclosures appealed to us.This was disappointing as we have always enjoyed eating outdoors.
Comments are closed.
“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.