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Goodbye Sam

Much has been said about the obsequious treatment candidate and President Obama has received from a press corps that willingly made the transition from sharp witted (some would say cynical) reporters covering President Bush to the sycophant mob they are today. But this same press corps' genuflection is doing no favors for the White House by continuing a hot house honeymoon for the current administration.

This month marks the retirement of a newsman who, in his day, was at once infuriating and enlightening, a media hero for Democrats and a pernicious press conference interloper according to more than a few Republicans (myself included). Sam Donaldson is retiring after forty years at ABC. Donaldson will be missed only because of the inferior quality of the imitators that have tried to take his place. (Note: while it would be a cold day in hell before this writer ever admitted that Donaldson could accomplish anything beneficial for a Republican president, it should be noted that the recent ice storm was as bad as they claim.)

Occasionally Sam Donaldson was the perfect foil for President Reagan but he is most remembered for shouting his questions at the president in his trademark j'accuse fashion. Unlike the carefully choreographed presser that President Obama served up last week, Reagan / Donaldson more resembled Ali/Frazier with a bit of humor. While Donaldson's antics infuriated Republicans, in retrospect they were probably a good thing because the conflict reinforced in voter's minds that Ronald Reagan could be quick on his feet, funny and principled at the same time.

President Obama is poorly served by a flattering press. He would do well to engage his own "Sam Donaldson" but that will never happen. His adversaries know this and will exploit that weakness when he least expects it.


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Comments (10)

Sam Donaldson was on "This ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Sam Donaldson was on "This Week" yesterday. During the roundtable George Will commented about recent statements by Nancy Pelosi such as 500 million jobs are lost each month or that natural gas as an alternative to fossil fuels. Sam interrupts at that point saying it was a matter of opinion and then blithers on completely oblivious to the fact that Pelosi's statements were obvious errors.

It really is time for Sam Donaldson to retire while he still has a reputation that's marketable should he seek to cash in by writing a book or two.

When asked for comment on D... (Below threshold)

When asked for comment on Donaldson's retiring Obama stated:

"Uhm.... uhh... well... uhh... you see... I really...
and I think that's why we're.... uhh. Thank you."

Too bad that Sam can't take... (Below threshold)

Too bad that Sam can't take Helen Thomas with him.

As for Obama, I'm waiting for it to leak out that his 'new conferences' are actually staged affairs. His note cards not only contain a picture of the "reporter" to be called upon, but as a backup, it also notes the question the "reporter" is to ask. Remember: "Trust BUT verify".

Jake Tapper shows definite ... (Below threshold)

Jake Tapper shows definite Sam tendencies... I think he's one to watch.

ABC's other great legacy to TV news is Brit Hume. Brit spent quite a bit of time at ABC, including covering the White House, before going to Fox News.


Sam Donaldson is still arou... (Below threshold)

Sam Donaldson is still around? I did not know that. I thought he had retired some time ago.

He always was a partisan hack, dating back to the days of Reagan, but compared to latter-day lickspittles like Chrissy Matthews and Keef Olbermann, Sam is the epitome of objectivity.

Also, if he wants a a littl... (Below threshold)

Also, if he wants a a little bit of spending money, his agent should try to get him a gig as an aging Vulcan leader in the new Star Trek movie. I'm telling you, slap a pair of pointy ears on Sam and he'd frighten small children.

In the early 80s I didn't l... (Below threshold)

In the early 80s I didn't like Donaldson but (I think it was after a Letterman interview) I grew to like him after awhile. I mean, he's a left-wing hack but he's an honest left-wing hack.

Two words:Jake ... (Below threshold)

Two words:

Jake Tapper

I saw Reagan at Reynolds Co... (Below threshold)

I saw Reagan at Reynolds Coliseum at NC State when I was a freshman there a million years ago. I was on the sixth or seventh row on the floor in front of the stage. Sam Donaldson was standing a few feet in front of me in the aisle. He had his back to the stage, looking out at the audience. When Reagan came in all these college kids went insane, cheering, etc. In reaction to the reception Reagan got, Donaldson held his microphone out to the side and shook his head and rolled his eyes. It was pretty funny.

I met Sam Donaldson -- well... (Below threshold)

I met Sam Donaldson -- well, shook his hand -- at a Dukakis rally in Columbia, Missouri, in '88. He was standing all by his lonesome while the "Duke" was working the crowd to the strains of Neil Diamond's "Coming to America." To a budding journalist like I was in '88, meeting Donaldson was like shaking the hand of Zeus. (I've since washed my hand :)






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