McClellan’s last column

I have conflicting thoughts on this:

  • He’s going out like a soldier, stoic and without regrets.
  • He’s one of the last of the old school, Ernie Pyle channels Mencken channels what, Ben Franklin maybe? I don’t know.
  • But that time in media is over, and with it McClellan’s star has faded significantly over the last decade and a half or so.
  • “As Wichita falls, so falls Wichita Falls” right? McClellan, and those columnists like him, are products of a bygone age in several ways
  • The internet has killed the newspaper industry to the point that very few even believe what’s printed. That stands for all news media. It’s even worse for TV news, which has demonstrated over and over again their willingness to lie, debase themselves and engage in outright propaganda the moment it becomes profitable. McClellen presided over an industry that sold its credibility for stock options and its objectivity for partisanship. This was obvious to all a decade ago, and has only gotten worse. Newspaper weren’t as avaricious as their TV counterparts; their downfall was assuming they were immune to the internet. Craigslist killed newspapers. Everything afterward was obituary.
  • This wasn’t his fault.
  • If anything, McClellan exhibited all the characteristics that made for a good reporter
  • He comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable
  • He said what he thought and didn’t count the tomorrow cost
  • He didn’t suffer fools gladly
  • He’s a 2x cancer survivor and that shit came back. That’s not an easy reality to take. It means the struggle he’s had for years is not at an end. And it also means that it intends to take him. Which it will. Cancer always wins eventually.
  • So what’s he do? Goes to a wedding. Sees his kid married, has fun, goes on. Can’t fault that.
  • He’s done what he came here for.

I met him once, did I tell you that? When I was in journalism school. When journalism school meant something. He was modest, he was erudite. Charming, in a sandy, shambling fashion. He still had the ability to entrance a classroom full of burgeoning Woodward and Bernsteins. Told us stories, we were fascinated, because we all imagined that these stories would someday be our stories.

Not the same stories of course, but variations on the theme. Everyone imagined themselves as some delightful variation on a generally accepted and approved-of theme.

Isn’t that all anyone wants? Isn’t that all anyone can ask for?

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *