Philadelphia news anchor Jim Gardner reminded viewers that the press is “not the enemy of the people” in his farewell broadcast Wednesday after more than 46 years on the air. (Watch the video below.)
He humbly asked his 6ABC audience for a “final word” and launched an eloquent defense of his craft.
“The American free press has been under attack, not by forces from other countries, but from elements embedded in our own society, and even our own government. It worries me deeply,” Gardner said.
After an anecdote about Thomas Jefferson’s deep belief in freedom of the press, Gardner delivered his most important message about the fourth estate.
“We are not the enemy of the people,” he said.
“Serving the people, you the people of the tri-state area, with responsible and unbiased journalism. This is our mission now and in the future,” he continued. “And if we falter, you damn well better let us know, for your benefit and for ours.”
Gardner received a well-deserved applause from colleagues as he said good night for the last time.
Gardner told The Philadelphia Inquirer he had pondered retirement before but the news was so interesting in recent years that he felt compelled to stay. Now, he said, he’ll spend more time with his wife and perhaps part with an iconic facial feature.
“Maybe Jim Gardner is going away, and I’m going to reclaim Jim Goldman,” he said, referring to his real name. “It’s interesting to sort of think about that. Jim Goldman will probably shave off the mustache, right?”