The Vacation Curse

Since we follow the career of Howard Kurtz pretty closely, we now cringe everytime he goes on vacation. It means, almost inevitably, there’ll be a massive media story breaking in the near future. Thus it was with some trepidation that we noticed his announcement last week that he’d be on vacation.

Now we know what happened: Lion Peter Jennings passed away, and what with Walter Cronkite still alive, he was the first icon of the broadcast age to do so.

The most legendary example of the Kurtz Vacation Curse, of course, is the Jayson Blair scandal that broke while he was getting married in California in 2003. The most recent? In May, the last time Kurtz vacationed, news of Deep Throat’s identity broke.

In any event, from vacation Kurtz, who lost his own father in recent weeks, penned a lengthy and heart-felt tribute to Jennings in today’s Style section: “That Soothing Voice.”

“Jennings, who died Sunday from lung cancer, was a man of contradictions: A high-school dropout who got his education around the globe as a foreign correspondent. A Canadian who came to love America and tearfully got his citizenship after 9/11. A fiercely disciplined journalist whose personal life encompassed four marriages. A hugely successful anchor who joked about how awful he had been during his first tour of duty in that coveted chair, when he was in his twenties,” he says.

He concludes many kind paragraph later, “I can still hear that mellifluous voice, too, and so, I suspect, can millions of others.”

Perhaps that’s why the most moving part of last night’s “World News Tonight” tribute to us was simply his opening: “Good evening, we begin tonight….”

> TVNewser has full Peter Jennings coverage.