THOSE who think the talking-heads political analysis...

Salmagundi

April 06, 1993

THOSE who think the talking-heads political analysis television shows from Washington are more show biz than journalism were given a little more validation last weekend.

Pat Buchanan's old show, "The Capital Gang," has a feature in which the panelists deliver their "outrage of the week." This is supposed to be a heartfelt editorial comment about some event in the political arena which has, of course, outraged the journalist delivering it.

When it was his turn, "Gang" fixture Mark Shields stared in the camera and began expressing his outrage of the week. Shields has been a regular in the talk show and lecture circuit division of journalism since he gave up advising politicians such as President George McGovern back in the 1970s. He's been around politicians and politics long enough not to get really outraged very often, but a job's a job and a feature is a feature so -- he really turns the emotions on on camera.

He was especially heated last Saturday -- for about half his "outrage." Suddenly, he stopped, looked around sheepishly and muttered a very sotto voce apology to his colleagues. Seems he was reading someone else's outrage off the Teleprompter. Give him credit for this: Unlike some broadcast journalists, he eventually heard his own words, the content sunk in and he aborted. Some would have read the wrong script all the way to the end.

A famous local anchor right here in Baltimore once faithfully read a mis-printed Teleprompter -- calling herself the wrong name.

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