A weirdly-defining memory of my childhood was how much I hated watching the news. Every night, my parents would turn on the news and I’d hate it. It wasn’t entertaining to five-year-old me. It had no relevance…I was too young to understand that whatever was happening outside my immediate surroundings affected others and could, potentially, affect me. It was boring.

Ronald Reagan shot? Wall-to-wall coverage on the three channels we got (cable hadn’t come to our town yet) and no cartoons. (Even worse was Sunday mornings, when the local affiliates ran church services). 

Even when there wasn’t breaking news, they’d sneak it in to the middle of your watching with a “news break”. The three networks (no Fox yet…just NBC, ABC and  CBS) would, a couple of times a night, forego commercial time with quick newscasts before getting you back to watching Lou Grant or Alice.

A while back, I uploaded a CBS Newsbreak from February 26, 1984 sourced from an old VHS tape to my Youtube channel:


 

A quick breakdown:

This newsbreak is presented by Charles Osgood, who only just retired in 2016 after a very long career at CBS, starting in 1971. 

Story 1

In 1982, a multinational force entered Beirut for peacekeeping to oversee the withdrawal of the PLO-backed forces from Lebanon as part of a cease-fire agreement between the PLO and Israel. After 17 months of mixed results that included a terrorist bombing of a barracks that killed 241 US Marines and 58 French paratroopers, the MNF withdrew in late February.

Story 2

More war: The Iran-Iraq War lasted from 1980-88 and resulted in over 1,000,000 dead. The US supported Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and was complicit in his use of chemical weapons, and we all know how he repaid our help…

Story 3

Used to be that merchants had to charge the same to customers paying with cash or credit cards, the S. 2335 (98th): Credit Card Protection Act was supposed to extend these protections if passed. Spoiler alert: it didn’t pass. And to this day, you are still occasionally charged a “convenience fee” for using your credit card or still see gas stations that charge higher prices for card use:

Ad break:

This spot supposes that Heineken is the best beer. Spoiler alert: it isn’t.

Story 4:

The New Hampshire primary is the first election primary of the presidential election cycle and, thus, has mostly-unwarranted importance in the eyes of the American media and electorate. In 1984, the Democratic front-runner, Walter “Fritz” Mondale was confident he’d win the primary and chose to campaign  in neighboring states instead. Spoiler alert: he didn’t. Gary Hart, now mostly-remembered for destroying his 1988 presidential campaign by having an affair (remember when politicians were held to a moral standard?) won. But we got this photo out of it, so yay?

Mondale did go on to win the nomination, however. Then spectacularly lost in a landslide to incumbent Ronald Reagan (who’d recovered from his assassination attempt by this time).

Story 5:

I can’t find anything definitive as to when the networks phased out newsbreaks. I can’t recall seeing one in the last 15 years, but it’s probably been much longer. Now that we have always-on internet access in our pockets and 24/7 news channels, these are a relic of the past. And could you imagine a network today passing up a couple of minutes of ad revenue to inform their viewers of world events? Hell no.

What are your thoughts?