The perceptive, articulate anchor of Nightline records his observations, thoughts, annoyances, and memories in a daily journal of the closing year of the century.
Koppel (Nightline, 1996) begins, and ends, 1999 filled with hope and foreboding. He records his reaction to Clinton’s impeachment, ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, and shootings in American public schools, as well as his pleasures in such private moments as a family birthday celebration or the visit of a grandchild. While focusing on the present, he occasionally reminisces about his English boarding school and its stringent ways. It’s current events, however, that absorb Koppel, who examines both their significance and their coverage by the media. He ponders the changing nature of television news, the public’s much-vaunted “right to know,” the role of radio shock-jocks, and the shrinking coverage of foreign news. From time to time he takes readers behind the scenes at Nightline, going twice with his crew to the Balkans, visiting two California women’s prisons, and journeying to New Hampshire during the primary campaigns. His datelines are from his various homes (two in Maryland and one in Florida); Washington (where Nightline originates); numerous American cities (where meetings and speeches take him); Ireland (for a biking tour organized by Disney’s Michael Eisner), and cities throughout the Mideast and Greece (where he and his wife vacation). A veteran traveler, Koppel has some wry comments on airline shortcomings that will not win him friends in that industry, and his deadpan report of repeated efforts to get caller ID on his home phone won’t please phone company executives either.
Koppel calls his diary “bread crumbs in the woods . . . marking the trail of how we got to wherever it is we are.” To anyone hungry for literate, thoughtful, and thought-provoking commentary on our times, however, it is a whole satisfying loaf, crust and all.