Chet Huntley and David Brinkley gave their final telecast on July 31, 1970, some 52 years ago. Chet Huntley and David Brinkley were representative of the “golden age” of television news, an epoch when television journalists brought you the news without biasing the viewers on what to think or how to feel.
In 1956, NBC paired David Brinkley, a longtime Washington radio reporter, with Chet Huntley, a New York-based newsman, to “anchor” that year’s national political conventions.
Huntley and Brinkley were decidedly different. Huntley was not exactly Brinkley’s straight man, but he relayed the facts while Brinkley furnished the mood, attitude, background and; perhaps, a bit of humor. Their subsequent collaboration on a nightly 15-minute, later 30-minute, national broadcast – “The Huntley-Brinkley Report” – was a genuine novelty and emblematic of its time.
As often happens in television, certain “quirks” take on a life of their own. To Brinkley’s dismay, the network insisted that, at the end of each broadcast, Huntley in New York bid farewell to Brinkley in Washington. Brinkley thought they should be addressing viewers, and not each other, but “Good night, David; Good night, Chet” became a national catch phrase and the source of endless humorous parodies.
During their sign-off on July 31, 1970; the last time they uttered “Good night, David; Good night, Chet,” Huntley said, “You (the viewers) have bolstered my conviction that this land contains incredible quality and quantity of good, common sense, and it’s in no danger of being led down a primrose path by a journalist.”
Unfortunately, given the current events of the day and the fact that tele-journalists are now “entertainers” who like liberties in “fabricating” the news; some may even call it “fake news,” it appears that the legendary Chet Huntley has been proven wrong.
John Di Genio