Bill Plante (right) and Chris Plante

Inside Media: Bill Plante and Chris Plante

June 20, 2009

Guests: Bill Plante and Chris Plante

By Lesette R. Heath, special programs coordinator

After 17 years at CNN, Chris Plante began hosting a radio show on WMAL and "found it liberating, cathartic, and the most fun I’ve ever had."

His father, veteran newsman Bill Plante, wasn’t too surprised by the move. Lively discussions are at the heart of talk radio, and the Plantes have had their share.

"I’m not as opinionated as he is," said Bill, "and I think that sometimes drives him nuts."

"Yes, it’s all true," joked Chris.

Father and son have taken separate journeys in the news business. Bill has spent more than 25 years as White House correspondent for CBS News and nearly four decades covering events around the globe. Chris has worked in television news, radio and produced documentaries. Together, they’ve seen the industry change — for the good, the bad and indifferent.

Today, said Chris, "you’re guaranteed more immediacy. [But] there’s no Uncle Walter [Cronkite] that people can turn to. I’m not so sure that he was as pure as the driven snow, but you turn on the TV and you see bias everywhere."

The elder Plante once worked with Cronkite and noted that the broadcasting legend is probably uncomfortable with the way TV news has evolved, especially the blurring of news and opinion.

Chris pointed out that young people are turning to shows like Comedy Central’s "The Daily Show," HBO’s "Real Time With Bill Maher" and "Saturday Night Live" for news.

"What’s Oprah? What’s Charlie Rose? There’s no black and white," he said, "It’s all gray now in the media universe."

Despite that, the Plantes consider themselves fortunate. For Bill, "It’s new every day. Sometimes it’s predictable, but most days, it’s new. Curiosity is what it’s all about."

"You never know what’s around the corner," Chris added. "Will [Iran’s] ayatollah be thrown out? I don’t understand why people watch reality TV when reality is already on TV."

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