R.I.P. Andy Rooney, 1919-2011

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Before we get to today’s topic, don’t forget TOMORROW morning is when we officially announce the NOMINEES for the 2012 People’s Choice Awards. And yours truly will be tweeting live and doing interviews from the Los Angeles Press Conference, so you’ll get the latest scoop as it happens. Stay tuned.

Now we need to mention that one of TV’s – and in fact one of America’s  —  great iconic voices is gone: Andy Rooney, newsman, pundit, and revered  “national curmudgeon” has passed away at age 92.

He signed off publicly weeks ago, on October the 2nd, when he bid audiences adieu after 33 years on 60 Minutes. Did you ever watch those end-of-show segments where he offered up opinions on everything from a loaf of bread to automobile names, types of milk, food packaging, and so on? He occupied a special place in many viewers’ hearts; Rooney was also one of the first guys on TV to offer up an “ordinary everyman” viewpoint that often highlighted the absurdity of our day-to-day lives. In a world of spin and media hype, he was always trusted.

Rooney was a staple in our household growing up, because even while everyone disagreed about politics and current affairs, there was always that 3 minutes on Sunday night when everyone came together to watch Andy ridicule something right under our noses, or he’d  take the wind out of someone’s sails, or brilliantly satirize our own self-importance. I thought he was a genius, and I know an awful lot of people on both ends of the political spectrum who feel the same way. He genuinely managed to touch a chord.

First and foremost a newsman, Andy Rooney got his start writing for TV host Arthur Godfrey in 1949. He would then go on to write for Garry Moore’s show, and then for fellow newsman Harry Reasoner, all the while remaining close friends with Walter Cronkite during many decades in the media. On the side, he produced several of his own opinion pieces, although they never found a worldwide audience until he was tapped to conclude 60 Minutes. Even though he became a “personality” he always maintained that he was a writer foremost, and that his appearances on 60 Minutes (which always took place behind the oak desk he made himself) were merely secondary to his stated profession. Nor, as is the case with so many  pundits, was he free of controversy; over the years he made any number of remarks that were deemed insensitive and inappropriate and landed him in hot water. Suspended for several months over comments about gays, he apologized, explained that his viewpoints had been ill-considered, admitted he’d learned a great deal, and went back to work. Ever the pragmatist, Rooney never understood why he was so beloved, seemed befuddled by fan mail, called himself a “realist” and always, always stuck to his guns. He didn’t care what people thought of him, and felt that his job was simply to point out the truth – no matter who it might offend. Whether you were a fan of Andy Rooney’s or not, it’s probably safe to say that there will never, ever be another like him. He leaves quite a rich legacy indeed.

Today’s poll:

60 Minutes’ Andy Rooney passed away at age 92 this weekend.Voice your choice in today’s featured poll and let us know which of these national news anchors you find the most credible and trustworthy:

1) Brian Williams

2) Scott Pelley

3) Diane Sawyer

4) Bill O’Reilly

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