Brian Williams has been reassuring us all week about the popularity of the Trading Places series in which NBC correspondents use profiles of their own parents to illustrate various issues in eldercare--assisted living facilities, the aged living alone, retirement trends and bereavement.
On Monday we registered our complaints about this type of journalism: first-person reporting by millionaire anchors will inevitably downplay the financial strain faced by the majority of the population; furthermore, how can correspondents possibly report without fear or favor when the central figure in their story is their own parent?
Our protests were finally vindicated by Tom Brokaw. Unlike Williams or Tim Russert or Nancy Snyderman or Ann Curry before him, Brokaw's Trading Places was not a love letter to his mother Jean. Brokaw tersely described her assisted living facility while pointing out that its monthly $6,000 cost is easy for him to afford--but that he is "the exception, not the rule."
Brokaw then changed the subject to Litisa Gaston, a claims processor in Birmingham Ala, who has to look after her pre-school daughter and her neurologically impaired mother Alfreda, all on an annual income of $50,000. After tithes, daycare, heat, food and clothing, it "leaves the Gastons with no savings--they manage with patience and prayer."
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