Tuesday, September 4, 2007

You Take Rita Crosby, I'll Take Jeff Pope

Evelyn Erives was doing her entertainment report on KGGI this morning, and referred to the forthcoming book by Rita Crosby, which apparently claims that Larry Birkhead and Howard K. Stern had a gay affair.

However, the best part of the story was when Jeff Pope made an inadvertent slip of the tongue and accidentally referred to Howard K. Smith instead.

I'm sure that Pope isn't the first one to do this - I bet that people intentionally referred to the seemingly subservient Stern as "Mr. Smith" - but I'm still trying to picture the former CBS/ABC newscaster in a tawdry reality show.

For those who aren't familiar with Smith, here's an excerpt from CNN's story announcing his 2002 death:

For 40 years, Smith was one of the major names in broadcast news. He began as a CBS radio correspondent from Berlin, Germany, and later moved to other outposts in Europe.

Eventually, he turned to television, first as a European correspondent, later as a commentator and documentary narrator. In 1960, he moderated the first debate between presidential candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon. The debate, one of the most widely viewed television programs of its time, is believed to have contributed to Kennedy's election later that year.

Smith joined ABC News in the early '60s, covering the Cuban Missile Crisis. By 1969, he was co-anchoring the network's news, a position he held until 1975, when he became a commentator.

Here's part of the story about Smith's departure from CBS:

In 1961, Murrow asked Smith to go to Birmingham, Alabama, to finish a documentary on the racial unrest rocking the region at the time. He arrived as the Freedom Riders were approaching town.

"The head of the (local) KKK phoned me while I was having lunch in a hotel," Smith told the Naples (Florida) Daily News in 2001. "He said, 'You want action, we've got action.' "

Not long after, Smith watched as local ruffians beat the Freedom Riders in the Birmingham bus station. For the commentary at the end of the report, Smith quoted philosopher Edmund Burke: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

The quote was cut from the program because Smith's bosses regarded it as editorializing. CBS Chairman William S. Paley backed the executives over Smith, who resigned.

"They said it was against the rules to take sides on a controversial issue," Smith said in the 2001 interview. "I said, 'I wish you had told me that during World War II, when I took sides against Hitler.' "

In his autobiography, David Schoenbrun subsequently wondered how such a man could eventually turn into a Spiro Agnew supporter.

But at least he never appeared on a reality show as the slave to an overweight addict.

Isn't it telling that Rita Crosby's trashy book is coming out at the same time that Harvey Levin's TMZ is coming to the television airwaves? It's enough to make Anwar Sadat turn over in his grave.

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