John McCaslin

In one of the lengthiest farewells-that-wasn't in television history, a teary-eyed Katie Couric departed NBC's "Today" show this week, only to begin anchoring the evening newscast on CBS.

The one remaining question: Will she sit or stand?

James Lileks, a contributing writer for the American Enterprise magazine of politics and culture, acknowledges that Couric brings a new excitement to the world of evening anchoring, however - and it's a big however - "for many, the evening news is an ossified relic of the dim misty days before the information age."

Sure, baby boomer TV executives have "tried to shake up the formula - co-anchors, anchors who stand, anchors who stalk off the set, everything but anchors lowered from above on invisible wires." (Actually, Couric did once fly onto the set dressed as Peter Pan.)

But the alarming truth is that today's "Internet generation," as Lileks refers to it, "gets its news from Jon Stewart, and its editorials from South Park."

So what about Couric?

"She's like a nice friend of mom's," he writes. "The kids will be polite if they see her on the way out of the house. But sit down for a half-hour and chat? Sorry, gotta run. And that's the way it is."


That was retired wartime pilot and author Charles O. "Charlie" Davis sipping a Singha beer at a sidewalk table outside Thai Old Town in Alexandria, Va., on Tuesday evening.

He explained that he was awaiting the arrival of some of his fellow "old Cold Warriors," as he called them. And one can only imagine the memories, covert and otherwise, they would have shared around the table.

Davis, author of "Across the Mekong: The True Story of an Air America Helicopter Pilot," is host of a reunion this week of the little-known but certainly heroic group of airmen. Air America was the CIA's clandestine airline, operating in many parts of Asia from the close of World War II until the Vietnam pullout in 1975.

"We have a common thread that holds us together," Davis told The Beltway Beat. "We were young and thought we were indestructible. I was in my 20s and fresh out of flying helicopters for the Marine Corps when I joined Air America in 1965. It was by far the most exciting time in my life."

And obviously the most dangerous?

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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