Famous Last Words: Cold E-mail to Strangers Can Work
I write this the day before Ronald Reagan’s funeral, 10 minutes after this alert popped up in my inbox:
3:46 AM email@example.com Remembering Ronald Reagan
The prior weekend, TV news had a nervous breakdown. In Normandy, France, the highly emotional commemoration of the 60th anniversary of D-Day was in progress. A large contingent of 80-year-old men who had saved the world were saying good-bye to each other and to France for the last time. When word came from California that Ronald Reagan was dead after his long, sad bout with Alzheimer’s, TV news went into Reagan frenzy, totally eclipsing the events in France. Only MSNBC carried the international D-day ceremonies. All the other stations scrounged up every possible person who had any connection with the Reagans and put them on the air and dove into the film archives for everything they could find on the 40th president. This would be okay, except that (1) a very important event was happening in France that had great meaning to millions of Americans and (2) TV news would be mopping the floor morning through night with Reagan’s life and death for the next five days.
I remember Churchill’s funeral in 1965 when the great BBC commentator Richard Dimbleby gave the world a magnificent history lesson as he described in fascinating and exhaustive detail the campaigns of every military unit that marched, as well as the origin and meaning of every stripe, medal, weapon, insignia, button and busby of the uniforms as they went by.
After hearing Wolf Blitzer say to every jerkwater guest for the umpteenth time, “Tell us your thoughts on Ronald Reagan,” I was ready to reach through the screen and strangle him. Quite simply, America’s dreary TV news anchors do not do their homework and are dull as dirt.