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As Long as We Remember...

April 18, 2012

Throwback Journalists Needed

Kevin E. Dayhoff

The media duo of Judy Woodruff, of the PBS NewsHour, and her husband Al Hunt, of Bloomberg News, visited McDaniel College for a program entitled “Conversation with Washington Insiders” Sunday afternoon in Westminster.


A crowd of over 150 attended. They came from a nice mix of about equal parts the McDaniel College community and the greater Westminster area.


After being introduced by McDaniel President Roger Casey, Ms. Woodruff, 65, and Mr. Hunt, 69, both delivered a short presentation on current events before taking a dozen thoughtful questions gathered from the audience.


Of course, the appearance of national and international newsmakers is nothing new at McDaniel. That said, this event was more like having a conversation with old friends.


To a certain degree, that was exactly the case since Ms. Woodruff and Mr. Hunt have been frequent visitors to special programs, football games, and college and community social events in Westminster and McDaniel College in recent years.


To refresh your memory, Mr. Hunt, according to information provided by McDaniel College, is the “executive editor of Bloomberg News in Washington, D.C. He was formerly a congressional and national political reporter, bureau chief and executive Washington editor for The Wall Street Journal for 35 years.”


Mr. Hunt was a fixture with The Wall Street Journal for several generations of readers and many were surprised, if not bewildered, when he went over to Bloomberg News in 2005.


I was an avid reader of his Politics and People column in the Journal, where I got to know him as Albert R. Hunt.


In spite of the fact that I am a print-media maven and was a stalwart reader of his work for the Journal, I have come to appreciate his work on Bloomberg. As a matter of fact, I really did not pay much attention to Bloomberg News until he went to work for the business and financial news network.


Considered an authority on American elections, Mr. Hunt has written several books for the conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, and the venerable Brookings Institution.


McDaniel College also wrote that Mr. Hunt has served as a panelist on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and PBS’ “Washington in Review,” as well as political analyst on CBS Morning News, and a panelist on CNN’s “The Capital Gang” and “Novak, Hunt & Shields.”


If you are not familiar with his work, watch him on any number of episodes with Charlie Rose.


Mr. Hunt’s Journal biography says that he was born in Charlottesville, VA, and graduated from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. “He is co-author of ‘The American Elections of 1980,’ ‘The American Elections of 1982’ and ‘The American Elections of 1984,’ ‘Elections American Style,’ (in 1987) and 2002's ‘Profiles in Courage for Our Time.’ ”


Somewhere I had saved his last column with the Journal… somewhere… Fortunately, the Internet provided me with a link to it. In it I very much enjoyed then line that “the term ‘journalistic objectivity’ is a misnomer. Every day and every story involves subjective judgments; good news pages strive to be fair...”


I also understood all too well that “there are columns that make me regret there's a Google…”


As for his distinguished wife, “Judy Woodruff has covered politics and other news as a television journalist at CNN, NBC, and PBS for more than three decades.


“She served as co-anchor of PBS NewsHour, chief Washington correspondent for PBS’ The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour and anchored the award-winning weekly documentary series, ‘Frontline with Judy Woodruff.’ She was an anchor and senior correspondent for CNN for 12 years, anchoring the weekday political program ‘Inside Politics.’


“At NBC News, Ms. Woodruff served as White House correspondent from 1977-1982 and for one year after was NBC’s ‘Today Show’ chief Washington correspondent.”


Sunday’s discussion with these giants of journalism included many questions about current election politics, such as the effect of the super PACs on the 2012 presidential contest following the January 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision.


Other questions centered on the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision on Obamacare and how that will effect the election. Mr. Hunt discussed many of the particulars of the case that concluded on March 28, after the court had heard three days of oral arguments on President Barack Obama’s signature legislative and social initiative, the Affordable Care Act. According to numerous media sources, it was the first time in more than 30 years that the Supreme Court has devoted three days to oral arguments.


Other questions included former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s vice presidential choice, what his campaign will look like, and what role will religion play in the contest.


On most of the issues, many keen observers of presidential electoral politics will agree with Mr. Hunt and Ms. Woodruff that Obamacare, the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, gas prices, religion, and the super PACS will all play a role in the election. But none of those issues are as big as how the economy will affect the chances President Barack Obama will get re-elected.


As an aside, a question about U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was particularly fascinating. Mr. Hunt observed that she is exhausted and may step down after the election. And that after November 6, 2012, she will be front-runner to succeed whomever is elected this fall.


The remainder of the conversation Sunday concerned all the changes in the media over the years – well, the last three or four decades or so, in which Ms. Woodward and Mr. Hunt have been involved in the profession.


In my opinion, a few more professionals like Ms. Woodruff and Mr. Hunt would serve the future of the media well.


… I’m just saying. . . . .


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