When Tom Teriffic showed up, NBC was in last place among the big three… Mostly because of the pompous, overbearing, and unabashedly leftist John Chancellor. Brokaw did what he could to reverse the situation.  As of last week, when he stepped aside to make room for the glorified traffic reporter from Elmira, NY…. (yes, I remember WENY, Brian…) NBC was in first place among the big three.

However, in looking over the ratings for Browkaw’s tenure, one fact comes up that few of the people singing his praise today will mention; Less people were watching the big three at the end of his tenure, than were there at the start of it.  The numbers reveal a curious statistical fact; He didn’t win new viewers so much as he was more successful at keeping the old ones that the others… CBS, and ABC, were losing.

Put another way, Brokaw’s real victory here was that he did a better job, in the end, of stemming the losses all three networks experienced through the period.

Certainly, the big three losing viewers is a good thing. Just as certainly, Brokaw won the race because he was better at his job… and lacked at least some of the qualities that made Chancellor such an insufferable tool, (to say nothing of Jennings and Rather). 

But his victory, it seems to me, is less than those praising him make it. When one manages to win the rat race, after all, cannot one assume that they won because they are the best rat?