The gentleman journalist

By Christopher Harper

Hugh Downs stood far above the self-absorbed bloviators who pawn themselves off today as journalists.

For nearly a decade, I worked with Hugh for ABC’s 20/20. He was the consummate gentleman and Renaissance man who treated everyone with respect.

Hugh referred to himself as “a champion dilettante,” who dabbled in music, art, and science. His 1986 memoir, “On Camera: My 10,000 Hours on Television,” was no idle boast: For years, he held the Guinness record for most hours on commercial network television until Regis Philbin eventually passed him.

Hugh was born and grew up in Ohio. His father worked as a salesman who struggled to make ends meet during the Depression. Hugh had to drop out of college to support the family as a radio announcer in Lima, Ohio.

In 1940, after serving in the Army, he joined the staff of WMAQ, the NBC radio station in Chicago. Later in the decade, he made the transition to television, working on “Kukla, Fran, and Ollie,” a popular puppet show.
Eventually, he would appear on “The Tonight Show,” “The Today Show,” “Concentration,” “20/20,” and others.

At the beginning of his career, Hugh said he suffered from stage fright. He recalled those days in “On Camera,” his memoir:

“At the end of a piece of music, when I was supposed to say something, my knees would shake uncontrollably. My pulse and respiration went up. Fortunately, the fear never showed in my delivery, but it did in my hands. If I had to hold copy, the paper would rattle. As a defense, I learned to lay copy out flat on the desk, or, if standing, to grab my lapels along with the copy, so the paper didn’t move with my hands.”

In 1978, Hugh received a call from Roone Arledge, the president of ABC News, asking him to take over the newsmagazine “20/20.” Its debut just a week earlier had been a disaster. Hugh was the sole host until 1984, when his former “Today” colleague Barbara Walters became his co-host. He remained with the program until retiring in 1999.
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In addition to his television work, Hugh was a composer. He wrote a prelude that was performed by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Hugh was an amateur guitarist and played for Andrés Segovia. He said he was pleased that Segovia did not leave the room.

Hugh also was a science buff and an adventurer. He piloted a 65-foot ketch across the Pacific and traveled to the South Pole.

During my time at “20/20,” I worked with Hugh on a project to create coral reefs near Miami. We had a great deal of fun, including the opportunity to blow up an old ship to start a reef.

But I truly appreciated Hugh’s fame when he was able to get a reservation for our team at Joe’s Stone Crabs in South Beach, where people lined up for hours to get inside in the usually first-come, first-serve restaurant.

Hugh died at the age of 99. I know he probably wanted to reach 100, but somehow 2020 seems more appropriate.

Funspot, Waitresses, False History , Indifferent Fans and another dead black kid whose life didn’t matter under the Fedora.

Last week my son and I hit funspot arcade in NH the 1st day it opened. It was a bit of a rainy day and they had an OK crowd but even though we had a lot of pinball to play for some reason it just wasn’t as much fun as it had been. Both of us decided we wanted to leave early. Maybe it was the long drive day before to Manchester VT to Pastime Pinball but something about this Funspot trip wasn’t right.

That was very odd.


On the way back we hit a BBQ place KC’s Ribshack in Manchester that we hadn’t tried before. We were seated outside under a tent and the waitresses had to brave rain etc to get us served. The food was average but the service was outstanding.

I think there has been a real appreciation of the value of waitstaff by people. It’s one of the few positive side effects of the Cornoa/Wuhan/CCP virus.


It’s been rather amazing to hear people suddenly discover that history is not being taught in our classroom. The investment our enemies have made in our schools, particularly in pushing Howard Zinn who is a joke, have really paid off in terms of ignorance. If you want to know how history SHOULD be taught and referenced I suggest the opening chapters of this book by Albert Bushnell Hart about sources and how history should be taught.

I’m rapidly reaching the opinion that the closing of our schools is the 2nd silver lining from Covid 19.


Two months ago I was delighted at the prospect of MLB opening under quarantine and the games coming back.

However between the whining of players of all sports over risks that truckers and grocery clerks take daily and their homage to the BLM/democrat/media left cause I find I really don’t care anymore.

It will interesting to see what happens when these jocks discover that their large paydays are dependent on the public giving a damn.


Speaking of BLM I saw this at PJ media concerning the death of 11 year old Davon McNeal in DC on the 4th of July from his grandfather:

One of his grandfathers lamented black-on-black crime and criticized Black Lives Matter for ignoring it.

“Everybody’s just saying they’re just tired – tired of the shootings in the community,” John Ayala, McNeal’s paternal grandfather, told FOX 5. “Everybody’s running around here thinking they’re Uzi-toting, dope-sucking, psychopathic killing machines and they’re just destroying lives.”

“We’re protesting for months, for weeks, saying, ‘Black Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter.’ Black lives matter it seems like, only when a  police officer shoots a black person,” Ayala lamented, bitterly. “What about all the black-on-black crime that’s happening in the community?”

Mr. Ayala is almost right there. The shooter doesn’t have to be a Police Officer for a black life to matter to the media or left. If said shooter looked like or voted like me then I would not have heard about the killing of 11 year old Davon McNeal at PJ Media 1st.

As long as the black community gives their votes to the Democrat/BLM/Media left without question they will have no incentive to make this stop.