Peter and Me

As the world said good-bye to Peter Jennings last week, I recalled my one and only meeting with the late ABC-TV anchorman–and it was certainly worth remembering.

On the Sunday before the 1992 Republican National Convention in Houston, I was invited to a reception for the media covering the convention. It was a cast of thousands, with the famosos from the television networks mixing with print reporters from smaller outlets.

Flanked by his producer, there was Peter Jennings, surrounded by admirers and autograph seekers. Patiently, I waited my turn to meet him, with the urge strong to let the anchor know I wrote for a conservative publication. Upon shaking his hand and saying "John Gizzi of HUMAN EVENTS," he replied without hesitation: "I know who you are. I read you."

Speechless was the only way I could describe my reaction to learning that the anchor long accused of left-of-center bias actually read my column in the nation’s oldest conservative newsweekly. Later, I learned that Jennings was himself a political "junkie;"

"Your story doesn’t surprise me in the least," said Ted Koppel, host of ABC’s "Nightline" and longtime colleague of Jennings. Recalling their first assignment together covering Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign in 1964, Koppel told me "neither one of us knew diddly about American politics, Peter being from Canada and me from Great Britain." But Jennings, Koppell added, "realized how little he knew and did something about it. By the time he had returned from the Middle East and been here a little longer, he became a political junkie."