By Steve Wolfgang
Footnote: Peggy Noonan, What I Saw At the Revolution: A Political Life in the Reagan Era (New York: Random House/Ballantine Books, 1990, 1991), pp. 23-24.
Peggy Noonan is a former newswriter for Dan Rather on CBS Radio News who in 1984 became a speech writer for Ronald Reagan and, later, George Bush. She wrote some of the more memorable speeches delivered by Presidents Reagan and Bush, including the Reagan speech at Pointe du Hoc in Normandy in 1984, the January 1986 speech following the space shuttle “Challenger” disaster, as well as George Bush’s nomination acceptance and Inaugural addresses.
Although not a “religious” book, it contains some enlightening passages about issues where politics and religion frequently intersect, and provides some insight into the often anti-religious bias of our public news media. I offer several of these passages for your consideration, and hope you will profit from them as I did.
CBS, like all the networks, all media, was shaped in part by a certain political spirit.
My peers at the network, the writers and producers in their late twenties and thirties, thought of themselves as modern people trying to be fair.
There are conservatives over here and wild lefties over there – and us, the sane people, in the middle. If you made up a list of political questions – should we raise taxes to narrow the deficit; should abortion be banned; should a morning prayer be allowed in the schools; should arms control be our first foreign-policy priority? most of them would vote yes, no, no, yes.
And they would see these not as liberal positions but as decent, intelligent positions. They also thought their views were utterly in line with those of the majority of Americans. In a way that’s what’s at the heart of our modern political disputes, a disagreement over where the mainstream is and what “normal” is, politically and culturally. I think a lot of the young people at the networks didn’t really know what normal was in America, and I hold this view because after working six years in broadcasting and three in New York, I no longer knew what normal was.
A small example. Once I wrote a radio script in which I led into a story by saying, “This Sunday morning you’ll probably be home reading the papers or out at brunch with friends, but Joe Smith will be. . . ” A middle-aged editor listened as he walked by the studio and approached me afterward. “Peggy, a small point but maybe not so insignificant: This Sunday morning most Americans will be at church.”
He was, of course, correct. But I forgot. I wasn’t at church on Sunday mornings, I was in a restaurant on Columbus Avenue eating mushroom omelets and reading the Arts and Leisure section of The New York Times.
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 9, p. 267
May 2, 1991