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CBS Tops RTCA Awards; Faux-Bama a Hit

It was a near sweep for CBS News at the annual Radio & Television Correspondents Association dinner at the Washington Convention Center Friday night.CBS News correspondent Clarissa Ward shared the David Bloom Award for excellence in enterprise reporting with the BBC’s Paul Wood, both for their coverage of the rebellion in Syria. Wood said the Syria story was only at its beginnings, but pledged that the BBC would was committed to seeing it through to the end. Ward was on assignment, but sent word that she wanted to thank the Syrians who had helped her get into and out of the country.

60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft won the Joan Barone Award for excellence in Washington-based national affairs/public policy broadcasting for his story on congessional insider trading. That story was a calalyst for passage of long-proposed legislation. He said it was an honor for someone who had never lived a day in Washington.

A new award in honor of CNN cameraman Jerry Thompson, who died of brain cancer last year, went to CBS cameraman George Christian, who in a four-decade career with CBS has covered everything from President Nixon’s resignation to Nelson Mandela’s release from prison to being the pool cameraman on Air Force One on 9/11.

Former CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer called Christian the best photojournalist he had ever worked with, while current anchor Scott Pelley said that if Christain ever retired, “we would have to take the ‘C’ out of CBS.”

House Speaker John Boehner was the featured political bigwig. There was one awkward moment when a video of Kroft’s winning story rolled, with Boehner being grilled about his stock holdings. But that was followed with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi having an even tougher time answering questions about her stocks.

Boehner was praised for helping improve journalist’s access, and for getting more parking for the crews. The outgoing RTCA Chair, CNN cameraman Jay McMichael, was particularly pleased with the additional parking.

McMichael said the President had been invited but had deferred because he was busy “governing and campaigning”–Boehner could be seen mugging skeptically at the remark. That was the cue for arguably the night’s funniest bit, though entertainer Wayne Brady was a solid closing act with some audience participation improv.

McMichael deadpanned that the President had sent a video, then rolled a Comedy Central-produced send-up of the President as though speaking through an “anger-interpreter,” Luther (

“I’m sorry I was unable to attend the RTCA Dinner this year,” said the pretender-in-chief.

“Yeah, I only have a war, an election and a struggling economy to take care of,” shouted the interpreter, “so why don’t I sit down and have dinner with a bunch of people who make their living talking shit about me.”

“I’m certain that it’s going to be a wonderful evening,” said the Faux-bama.

“With a all the budget cuts, you’ll have to write your own damn menus,” shouted the anger interpreter, angrily.

“We need strong journalists more than ever,” the “President” continued.

“yeah, especially since most news now consists of gossip and squirrels on water skis,” continued the increasingly exercised interpreter.

Among the familiar FCC faces in the crowd at the dinner were former Commissioners Meredith Attwell Baker, now with Comcast/NBCU; former Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, now running the Ag Department’s Rural Utilities Service; and current commissioners Robert McDowell and Mignon Clyburn. Commissioner Ajit Pai was also on the guest list.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.