If you ask why she went into journalism, Darling Daughter might well answer “What choice did I have?”
Born when her parents both worked at CNN, the oldest of our three children grew up visiting the Atlanta headquarters and wearing shirts emblazoned with those three letters.
Straight out of college, she worked at the Aiken (S.C.) Standard and then the Greenville (S.C.) News. For the past two years, Darling Daughter has reported on politics and state government for The State newspaper in Columbia, the capital of South Carolina.
Which brings us to a remarkable week at the end of February. Leading up to the Feb. 29 Democratic presidential primary, she had spent months covering visits by the men and women seeking the party’s nomination. Her reporting for The State was solid and insightful. Along the way she was interviewed a few times by the cable news networks and their online channels.
Still, nothing prepared us for the final week of the South Carolina campaign, when she was interviewed live on a dozen or more occasions. Life came full circle as the little girl who used to visit CNN became the poised young woman interviewed on the network that was her parents’ professional home for a combined 35-plus years.
Throughout the week, we kept her siblings, aunts and uncles, maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother apprised of her television appearance schedule. We posted videos and still frames from the television and computer on Facebook.
Newspapering, in general, is not glamorous work, but there was our daughter, sounding and looking smart, the camera seeming to favor her. The plaudits that we received from former colleagues, including news veterans who do not praise lightly, were particularly meaningful.
On primary day, we drove to Columbia, pulling into a rest stop eastbound on Interstate 20 to watch on our phones her live “hit” on CNN.
She knew we were bringing refreshments and snacks to The State’s newsroom, which of course left her a tad embarrassed (What are parents for?).
I had secured a credential for the primary night Biden campaign rally in a gymnasium at the University of South Carolina. It had been more than a few years since I had worked in a campaign filing center, which amounted to nothing more than the bleachers and tables behind the elevated platform from which a couple of dozen television cameras recorded the event. Viewed from afar, a filing center resembles a beehive or an anthill in its frenetic activity.
I was pleasantly surprised to have impromptu reunions with a couple of former CNN colleagues, now working for other networks. Earlier in the week, at the debate in Charleston, two people with whom I had worked closely took the time to visit with Darling Daughter when she appeared on their network, a gesture I truly appreciated.
On primary night, the evening’s treat was standing at the foot of the camera platform stairs to watch my daughter being interviewed. Amid the deafening music piped into the gymnasium, I could not hear a word, but was amazed at the confidence she demonstrated, gesturing animatedly in conversation with the correspondent.
I found a space in the bleachers to sit and write most of this column.
My father began his career with the Associated Press and spent many years as the editor of publications in the health care and hospital fields. I began life as a newspaper reporter before crossing the street to television, first at the local level and then for many years with CNN.
My father died before his granddaughter began her newspaper career. I get choked up thinking about how much he would have enjoyed reading her articles and talking journalism with her, as he did with me.
My wife and I may be in the business, but as parents, we got a tremendous kick out of seeing her on television. Anyone who has been a parent knows that there are times when children try your patience, yet those memories recede when you see your child thriving in such an environment.
Primary night was a long night. By the next morning, the campaign circus had folded its tent and moved on to the Super Tuesday primary states. We took Darling Daughter to breakfast and then drove back to Atlanta, amazed at what a week it had been for her and, frankly, for us.