“Inside Washington,” 1988-2015

For those of us who watched this weekly news commentary round-table regularly, Inside Washington aired its last show today, after 25 continuous years. It will be greatly missed.

Host Gordon Peterson ably anchored the program. In my opinion, and in the opinion of many, the fair and level-headed Peterson stood head and shoulders above most other anchors on many similar shows that attempt to bring us the same thing.

Regular panelists Colbert “Colby” King, Charles Krauthammer, Mark Shields, Evan Thomas, and Nina Totenberg all contributed incisive commentary, reflecting news of the day from their respective political perspectives. Given the often strong views of most panelists, and their ability to defend same, I would say I have never seen any other show where panelists were so likeably civil, and generally stayed on-topic, even in the heat of debate.

All panelists, including Charles Krauthammer (with whom I might most often have taken a different view), supplied valued and principled discussion. They could be counted on to bring to us succinct points, and entertaining commentary, and they were all genuinely interesting and likable human beings – not to mention, outstanding journalists.

News shows come and go over the years, but the loss of Inside Washington seemed to me a particularly heavy blow to balanced and to-the-point news analysis. It is truly rare to find commentary articulating both sides of an issue so well that we can gain a clear and unbiased grasp of the positions of each party to a dialog. I can only add that I will always miss this show, and I wish to express my own gratitude to host Peterson and all of the panelists for bringing us 25 years of superlative broadcasts.

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Three News Commentary TV Shows

1. Washington Week (McLaughlin Group, PBS): a moderate vs. conservative shouting match NOT moderated by panel moderator John McLaughlin. Usually features neocon journalist Pat Buchanan. I call it the “shouter’s show.”

2. FOX channel: Previously, I’ve seen enough unwarranted ad hominem attacks on this network that I don’t watch Fox. A friend recently told me he thought their news coverage had become “fairly balanced,” so I said I’d check it out again anyway. The news segments themselves seemed fairly enough presented, though with a higher ratio of sensational content than I usually care for. Last week, Fox had a half hour hosting Mike Huckabee. Huckabee much as labeled Barack Obama, our President of the United States, “stupid.” I’ll check Fox out again in another decade or so.

3. Belva Davis has hosted KQED (PBS) show This Week in Northern California for more than 19 years. I remember when Belva came to Bay Area channel KPIX in the 1960’s. At that time, there was still some national controversy about black women bringing news into white living rooms. I remember feeling that we should wait and see what kind of reporter Belva was. Over the years, Belva’s been a bedrock of calm Bay Area reporting of a hotbed of news and issues. Her mission was always to “bear witness” to events and let the viewer evaluate the content. Belva will be retiring in November. I for one will always miss her soothing and salient presence in a turbulent news world. Carolyn Jones of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote an excellent article Belva Davis, grande dame of Bay Area journalism,¬†and I recommend it.

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