What I learned from Howard Baker

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Howard Baker taught me a thing or two about reading a script in front of a camera.

Yes, that Howard Baker. The one who died on Thursday at the age of 88. Son-in-law of the legendary Everett Dirksen of Illinois.

Before he was Ronald Reagan’s White House chief of staff and George Bush’s ambassador to Japan, Baker was the U.S. senator from Tennessee.

In 1978, he walked into the WSM-TV news studio in Nashville where I worked. He sat at the anchor desk I normally occupied. And he recorded a statement about why he, a Republican, voted to give the Panama Canal back to Panama.

His conservative constituents wanted to burn him at the stake for that. He had to explain why he’d done what he’d done with a damn Democrat, Jimmy Carter, in the White House.

Baker looked into the camera. The teleprompter began its roll.

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