Refusing to give up your seat on the bus. Standing out in a field in Texas. Small things that become big things. They usually come from unknowns, unconcerned with image or career killers like principles. Which is why this small gesture from Bob Costas impresses me:
You go, Bob.
Broadcaster Bob Costas refused to anchor CNN's Larry King Live on Thursday night because of the tabloid subject matter.
The show discussed the situation of Natalee Holloway, a teenager that went missing earlier this year in Aruba, and the case of so-called "BTK" serial killer Dennis Rader. Costas, who announced on Monday that he would be covering for Larry King all week, was replaced by an Atlanta-based defence attorney, Chris Pixley.
"I didn't think the subject matter of Thursday's show was the kind of broadcast that I should be doing," Costas told TVNewser in a statement. "I suggested some alternatives but the producers preferred the topics they had chosen. I was fine with that, and respectfully declined to participate. There were no hard feelings at all. It's not a big deal. I'm sure there are countless topics that will be mutually acceptable in the future."
Costas is not the only broadcaster at CNN unhappy with the increasingly tabloid-style output. Also on Thursday, Jack Cafferty from The Situation Room said on CNN's own air that coverage of the "BTK" killer amounted to a "a ghoulish exercise on the part of the news media," adding that "if ratings are the reason... we ought to be ashamed of ourselves."
Costas' decision and Cafferty's comments come at a time when many American news outlets, primarily the cable news channels, are being accused of "dumbing-down" their output to feature stories of a more tabloid nature - the case of Natalee Holloway is held up as an example of this. The missing-persons case is given roadblock-style coverage on programmes airing on CNN Headline News, MSNBC, and the first-placed Fox News Channel.
You go, Bob.