After exile from ABC News to the BBC and the Discovery Channel, Koppel is now joining Brian Williams’ forthcoming NBC News magazine program Rock Center as a special correspondent. How special? Koppel has never been shy about proclaiming how great he and his peers were during the alleged “golden age” of broadcasting and how much everybody else sucks today. But the preening soundbite he delivered today in the Associated Press about the modern media’s failure sets a new standard for the 71-year-old newsman who anchored ABC News’s Nightline for 25 years.
Instead of giving the public what it needs to hear, we’re giving the public news that it wants to hear, and one of these days the public is going to turn on us and say, “Why didn’t you tell us about those important things that were going on?”… They’re not going to like the answer and we’re not going to like the answer. We’re going to say we gave you what you wanted.
Read it again and see if it doesn’t remind you of some father bawling his kid out for spoiling his supper with a Snickers bar. Koppel is essentially saying that the press is failing its audience by giving them what they want instead of what they need—that is, the sort of news Koppel and his fellow media giants (Walter! The Brothers Kalb! Harry Reasoner! Chet and David! Arnold Zenker!) beamed to the nation’s TV sets as recently as the 1980s.
Evidence that Koppel is reading from an internal teleprompter comes from this Pullman, Wash. talk late last month (PDF):