Anchors: Brokaw, Jennings, Rather and The Evening News

Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, and Dan Rather don’t just read the news for 30 million people each weeknight, they shape it. They even shape our perception of what news is. Their influence beyond their respective six minutes of screen time per evening is surely significant enough to fill a book. Anchors, which venerates their celebrity but ignores their clout, is not it. In a narrative that follows the newsmen during most of 1989, Brokaw, Jennings, and Rather are celebrated for their long hours and indefatigable willingness to travel, but exactly what they do remains frustratingly obscure. How do they decide what’s news? Are there any controlling principles behind their presentations? How do they, or their broadcasts, differ significantly from one another? Anchors follows an uncritical Hollywood-bio formula with sketches of legends-in-their-youth, interviews, and, of course, gossip, much of it previously reported but never so encyclopedically assembled. For a portrait of the men who literally make the news, that’s not enough. C