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Mark Shields' Courage, Grace, and Candor

December 18, 2020

Today I read in David Brooks’ column that Mark Shields, 83, is not going to be making his regular appearance on the PBS NewsHour’s Friday political commentary segment. David wrote that he and Mark have been doing that segment for 19 years and I have watched it all. In the wake of the Clinton presidency in the waning years of the 1990s, I started college and became politically minded by watching the 2000 presidential campaign unfold. At only 18 years old and with my limited background, growing up the son of a small business owner in northern Virginia, all I knew was my dad was on the side of the bosses, not the majority of people who work for them. When George Bush was made president in 2000, I thought it was a travesty that Al Gore, clearly the better informed, more capable candidate, lost by a court decision that amounted to an end-run around the democratic process. But Mark Shields, David Brooks, Judy Woodruff, Gwenn Ifill, Jim Lehrer, Miles O’Brien, Ray Suarez, Jeffery Brown, and many others who work and contribute to the PBS NewsHour helped me understand that people can have differences of opinion but still like each other. That real exchange of ideas, appreciation for opposing priorities, and rational processes can see us, one people, through our shared trials. These people taught and continue to teach me the values to live my life by.

Mark, you are irreplaceable. Your wit and charm are legendary. Mark, your appreciation for what David has had to say all these years, how you’ve been able to show him and all of us how at the core of liberalism is care: caring for how every individual is treated in our society. The NewsHour is a apolitical but in these times, one of our greatest understatements is that it’s challenging to speak with fairness to the Republican party’s positions. And yet, Mark, you’ve shown us all how to do it with grace.

Thank you, Mark, for sharing yourself with us. I wish to add to this tribute over time as I reflect more on the ways you’ve touched my life. It’s been my dear pleasure and to the profound benefit of my mind to have listened to you all these years.

Contact© 2021 David D. Smith