Former president Gerald Ford died tonight. It was just before 11:30 p.m. when an alert from ABC News came across a screen in the control room. It said that Ford had died and to stand by for a possible special report. We still had about five minutes to go in the newscast, and I kept watching the wires for confirmation, but none came. So, we didn't mention it. I heard the official report about 15 minutes later, as I drove home.
If I recall, Ford was the first president I ever voted for. I was just shy of eight-years-old when he took office in 1974, and 10 when he ran against Carter in 1976. Too young to vote for real, obviously, but I seem to remember that we had one of those "mock" elections in school, and we cast our votes on an actual voting machine. I voted for Ford and Bob Dole, even though (if I remember correctly), my mother managed to stick some sort of "Vote for Carter" message on my sweater before I left the house!
Anyway, some of us in the newsroom (me included) were complaining earlier in the evening about what a slow news week this would be. In general, nothing much happens between Christmas and New Year's. I don't think it's going to be slow anymore.
And then, there's the big question of who will be number three? It's a well-known rule in newsrooms that famous people die in threes. The current string is James Brown (on Christmas day) and Ford. Who will be next?