Russell Baker was a syndicated columnist for the New York Times from 1962 to 1998.
This column by him appeared at the end of March in 1977. Which day it appeared in a local paper just depended on how the syndication went.
In 1977, Barbara Walters had been added to ABC’s anchor desk, and there was talk that Harry Reasoner was not happy about it. Russell Baker’s columun discussed that, and talked about how David Brinkley and John Chancellor had come together when they were assigned to co-anchor the news desk (after Chet Huntley died).
Similar signs of misunderstanding occurred early in the match between John Chancellor and David Brinkley, but both Chancellor and Brinkley were mature enough to concede their relationship was headed for trouble unless they sought counseling. Their problem was quickly identified and eliminated after a series of interviews.
Chancellor confessed that he could not stand Brinkley’s habit of removing his shoes and socks just before the “NBC Nightly News” went on the air and doing the show barefoot, which he regarded as an undignified approach to the news.
Brinkley knew that his was an irritating habit, but explained that he had fallen into it early in his career, had always gone on barefoot, was hopelessly addicted to the habit and feared that if forced to do the show wearing shoes and socks he might becone speechless with terror in front of the camera.
After frank discussions, Chancellor agreed to try overcoming his puritanical sense of propriety and do the show one evening with his own feet bared.
To his delight, he found the experience gave him a sense of well-being and enriched fulfillment. Now both Chancellor and Brinkley do the show barefoot every night. The knowledge of sharing a secret has created a bond between them, which is warmly expressed in the enigmatic smiles they exchange from time to time during the show’s progress.
Who’d have guessed?
Well, they’d have been wrong.
Here’s a column called “Glad You Asked That!” by Marilyn and Hy Gardner, from October later that year.
Q: Is it true that David Brinkley (according to a columnist discussing the apparent rift in the team of Harry Reasoner and Barbara Walters) is broadcasting the NBC News barefoot? The columnist claims John Chancellor couldn’t stand it. Finally he tried the barefoot approach too. Now both are getting along fine? — Nate Kruglak, Milwaukee, Wis.
A: We don’t know what NBC’s Brinkley and Chancellor have to do with ABC’s Reasoner and Walters. So we wrote and tried to untangle this tip. From Washington and New York came this intelligence: “That item appeared in a newspaper column several months ago and has been reprinted here and there. And while it is amusing, there is no truth to it whatever. Sincerely. David Brinkley.”
So what’s going on?
Take a look at the date of that original column. Very end of March . . .. The column doesn’t appear every day but only a couple of times a week . . .. What comes right after the very end of March . . .?
You figure it out.
Anyways, it was kind of fun while it lasted. It would have been great.