Former ABC and NBC reporter John Hockenberry now hosts a New York public-radio morning show called The Takeaway, and he stunned listeners on Tuesday by channeling his inner Thomas Friedman. He yearned for a Chinese dictatorship in a segment lamenting how slowly the federal government is funding railroad projects:
JOHN HOCKENBERRY: You know, it makes you yearn for a Chinese dictatorship, essentially. I mean, they're putting up 30 billion dollars to create high-speed [rail] networks from Shanghai to Beijing and all the major cities in China, and there are a lot of them. But the federal government just isn't a dictatorship, and we're not going to get one any time soon. We missed our chance, I guess, during the George W. Bush -- okay, I'm going to get some e-mails for that.
CELESTE HEADLEE, co-host: Are you saying you want a Chinese dictatorship?
Hockenberry just brushed his co-host aside, and changed the subject back to rail projects in Florida.
Transportation reporter Collin Campbell was underlining how states want the federal government to underwrite a national rail network, not just pay for 25 or 50 percent of the costs. Hockenberry asked Campbell: "If we can't get high-speed rail done in the United States at this moment, what other problems can't we solve?" Campbell said the volcano in Iceland has helped high-speed rail advocates, since that trains could help move people when airlines cannot.
The Takeaway is a co-production of Public Radio International and WNYC radio in New York in collaboration with the BBC World Service, The New York Times, and WGBH Boston.
Previously: Hockenberry was chosen (along with former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw) to help President Barack Obama select White House fellows.