- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Fired genius

“Fired by Little Richard. Fired by Ike and Tina Turner. Terminated by numerous now-forgotten blues and rock bands.

“You would think this was the resume of a second-rate backup guitar player, but it’s the precelebrity track record of no less than the late, great Jimi Hendrix.

“Often hired and often fired. In the end, the reason was always the same: Hendrix’s guitar solos that became, as Ike Turner said, ‘so elaborate they overstepped the bounds.’

“Yet those flashy, raucous, but elegant electric guitar solos would revolutionize rock music. …

“Hendrix was a guitar virtuoso. His imagination was boundless, and, for better and for worse, by the late 1960s, nothing anybody could imagine was too much.”

Darryl Lorenzo Wellington, writing on “Flashy, raucous, sad: the Jimi Hendrix experience,” Aug. 2 in the Christian Science Monitor

Losing trust

“Over the last two decades, the Pew [Research Center for the People and the Press has] plotted a steady decline in the credibility of newspapers among its survey respondents. In 1985, 84 percent said they could believe most of what they read in their daily newspaper, but by 2004 that number was down to 54 percent.

“These findings are enough to sicken the heart of any journalist — until he reads the rest of the survey. Over nearly the same interval, survey respondents gave consistently favorable marks to their own daily newspaper. In 1984, 88 percent of those familiar enough with a daily newspaper to give it a rating gave it a favorable grade. In 2005, 80 percent still did. … The survey uncovered a similar pattern among viewers of both network news and local TV news: a sharp decline in believability, but only a moderate one in favorability. …

“Some of the hatred of the press is of the press’s own doing. Journalists began to set themselves up as paragons of objectivity and ethics in the late 1950s after having wandered in the wilderness of overt bias and sleaze for many decades.

“This was a good development, of course, but in promoting Absolute Objectivity and Ethical Purity, journalists set themselves up for a fall. For one thing, the sanctimonious sermons by journalists about how virtuous and upstanding they are make them easy to detest.”

Jack Shafer, writing on “Why I Don’t Trust Readers,” Friday in Slate at www.slate.com

Leading man

“We should think of [Peter Jennings] as a movie star, glamorous, classy, suave. Good looks and gentlemanly demeanor still matter, more than ever, in fact. He was television news’ leading man. Even Dan Rather knows as much. Look at the nice things he’s now saying about Peter, as if battening on to Jennings will improve his own sorry reputation.

“Sure Jennings drove many conservatives nuts, not just because he was Canadian and couldn’t pronounce ‘about.’ One remembers well his covering for Bill Clinton and, in his earlier years, the pro-PLO slant he legitimated in reporting on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

“But this was also the same Jennings who was easily friendly with many conservatives and even went to bat for them behind the scenes. His former colleagues remember him as a stern taskmaster and hard worker … Television is artifice. Jennings imbued it with more meaning than it warrants. No wonder so many already miss the pleasure of his company.”

Wlady Pleszczynski, writing on “Death of an Anchor,” Tuesday in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

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