When journalism students ask me to define what news is, I always say it depends on the day it happens and what else is happening. I learned that during the 23 years that I anchored the weekend news. The minor disaster that is the Saturday news lead story may warrant only brief mention during the week when it has to compete for space with a lot more things that are making news. I remember one long ago Sunday when it was so quiet, I could think of no better way to start the newscast than by saying, 'The largest grass fire in the history of Orange County swept through Southern California today.'
Sometimes it's just the opposite. There is so much news that important developments are all but ignored, as it was last week when it was all pope, all the time. There buried in the back pages of The Washington Post, a story in which Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said the run-away federal deficit was getting so bad, he expected taxes would have to be raised to bring it into line. To let it go unchecked, he said, would cause the economy to stagnate or, in his words, cause something even worse.
The red ink so out of control we may have to raise taxes? There's been no shortage of Washington bluster and bombast lately, but we haven't heard much about that story, have we? That's the real filibuster here, the way both sides have figured out how to keep changing the subject by pandering to special interests as they refuse to make the hard choices on taxes and spending necessary to fix the nation's increasingly perilous financial state. Weekend or weekday version, that's the news.
By Bob Schieffer