Friday, June 11, 2004

Reagan's Funeral Service

Network coverage was about what I expected. The big three (ABC, CBS, NBC) let their big guns chatter a little too much, though I noticed that even they were much more muted than usual. Word seems to have gotten to them. PBS provided some coverage. Once again FOX was best. Brit Hume made a real effort to stay out of the way and to let events speak for themselves. Which they were doing in volumes.

I was surprised how personable Brian Mulroney's speech was, friendly and as much happy as sad. He managed to get a smile from Nancy Reagan with his "million dollars" remembrance. His eulogy seemed the most heart-felt.

Who knew that George Bush, Sr. would give both the most emotional moment and the best laughs. When he talked of learning the most from Reagan, his voice audibly choked up; a moving tribute. He also elicited laughs twice by sharing Reagan jokes.

Lady Thatcher's taped eulogy had a lot of inserted visuals of Reagan, but I suspect this was to prevent viewers from studying her face too long. She suffered a stroke not long ago and has largely retired from public life because of its effects. She looked great and spoke well, but I'm sure it was tiring just to do what she did. Her remarks reinforced the political legacy of Reagan, with a touch of her trademark sternness.

President Bush gave a standard eulogy for a former president, though it was moving, too. There was a clunker line about Reagan being deeply against "prejudist" and racism, but it was otherwise fine.

Reverend Danforth seemed to want to make a political point with his homily, but without explicitly announcing it. He'd edge up to a message of "stay Reagan's course and keep his light alive" only to get nervous, look at his audience as though to make sure they were in fact getting his point, then wander away again. A little unnerving to me.

Was it me or was the musical accompaniment a bit too embellished and flourish-y? It seemed to call a bit too much attention to itself with unnecessary drama, rather than fade into the background of the occasion. It annoyed me.

Overall, at least as reported by television news, it was a reminder that life moves at its own pace. It was good to see the nets made to adapt themselves to the rhythms of solemnity, rather than chop up, talk over and lay background music to the event. No packaged massaging and editing here, thank goodness, just straight reporting. Although at least a couple of times on all the nets, I saw some fades and overlays that seemed to want to convey a message.

The man himself, Ronald Reagan, was present, front and center, today. That's as it should be.

No comments: