Several years ago, I attended an event in New York City honoring Walter Cronkite, the reigning emperor emeritus of network news.
All the giants of the hot medium were there– Dan Rather, Mike Wallace and a bunch of others. You would have needed the lubricating assistance of a 55-gallon drum of Crisco to squeeze all those egos out the door.
They call came to kiss Uncle Walter’s ring. For a small-fry print guy like me, it was fascinating to watch, not unlike like viewing a cross betweenÂ “Animal Kingdom” meets “Anchor Man.”
The well-wishers jockeyed and juked to position themselves in the glow of the Great Man’s aura.
I wanted to meet Cronkite because my father, a TV writerÂ had written a couple of scripts for him for the “You Are There” series and “The Twentieth Century,” aÂ documentary show that aired on Sunday nights back in the late 50s and early 60s.
But every time I tried to talk to him, somebody with power and influence would cut in and interrupt. I was virtually invisible to a crowd of people who shared a common characteristic that seemed to burn in their eyes– driving ambition.
After awhile, the interruptions gotÂ a little ridiculous. And I decided that the next guy who tried to butt in would get the elbow treatment. And the next guy was Tim Russert.
Just as I was about to extend my hand for the fifth time to Cronkite, Russert came out of nowhere to pay his respects. Like the rest of them, Russert had that determined, get-outta-my-way look.
But just as he was about to step in front of me, I gave him a slight nudge and threw him off course. Then I moved in on Cronkite.
I shook Cronkite’s hand, introduced myself and mentioned my father for whom, I quickly perceived, he had absolutely no memory.
Mumbling something close to a goodbye, I left him to Russert, who didn’t seem to be irritated in the slightest by my power move.