By Greg Carannante
City & Shore Magazine
This year’s Broward College Speaker Series lineup may not quite span the broad ideological horizons of … oh, I don’t know, Congress … or even Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, but it does present an intriguingly kaleidoscopic perspective.
A political anchor from the conservative network is followed by a foreign affairs journalist from the liberal newspaper. A world-class boxer and dynamic daughter of The Greatest is followed by a veteran broadcast journalist known for captivating stories, inspiring wisdom – and “Ratherisms.”
Here’s the schedule and topics just announced for the series’ fifth season, sponsored by SunTrust, Books and Books, the Sun-Sentinel and City & Shore Magazine, and held at the Broward Center’s Amaturo Theater:
Bret Baier, Jan. 24: Fox News’ chief political anchor, “Politics and the Atmosphere in Washington, D.C.” (SOLD OUT).
Thomas L. Friedman, Feb. 21: The Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist, “The Big Trends Shaping the World Today: Economics, Technology & Geopolitics.”
Laila Ali, March 27: Boxing champ, TV host, fitness expert and motivational author, “Finding Inspiration Against All Odds.”
Dan Rather, April 18: The veteran broadcast journalist, with more than 60 years experience chronicling our world and nation, will speak on “What I’ve Learned from a Lifetime of Reporting.”
“Is there anyone onstage — and can I see hands — who is unwilling tonight to pledge your support to the eventual nominee of the Republican Party, and pledge to not run an independent campaign against that person? Raise your hand now if you won’t make that pledge tonight.”
With that question, Bret Baier launched the premiere episode of one of last year’s most compelling reality TV shows — the GOP presidential debates. (Guess which of the 10 candidates onstage was the only one to raise his hand.)
Evidenced by his co-anchoring of the debate, Baier’s earnest visage is one of Fox News’ highest-profile faces. Special Report with Bret Baier is the top-rated cable news program in its timeslot and consistently one of the top four shows in cable news. He’s anchored more than 30 political specials and reported from 74 countries. He is also author of Special Heart: A Journey of Faith, Hope, Courage and Love, chronicling the remarkable journey of his son Paul, born with congenital heart defects in 2007. (His appearance Jan. 24 has now sold out).
“I fear we’re seeing the end of ‘truth’ — that we simply can’t agree any more on basic facts. And I fear that we’re becoming Sunnis and Shiites — we call them ‘Democrats’ and ‘Republicans’ — but the sectarianism that has destroyed nation-states in the Middle East is now infecting us.”
As recounted in a June column in The New York Times, this is the answer that Thomas L. Friedman gave to the question, “What do you fear most these days?”
It’s a response reflective of a journalist renowned for his sophisticated analysis of complex global issues. So much so that he’s held The Times’ foreign affairs columnist post for 22 years, and won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for commentary on the terrorist threat. So much so that Foreign Policy magazine has said, “Friedman doesn’t just report on events; he helps shape them.” So much so that, according to his newspaper, he was “sounded out” on Middle East issues by President Barack Obama in 2011.
Having been hired by The Times in 1981, he’s gone on to win two other Pulitzers — both for international reporting. He’s also written six books, including 2005’s best-seller, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century.
“We all had a connection with our father, but mine, unlike any other, because we both did the same thing. We’ve both been hit upside the head, and hit some people upside the head.”
That’s Laila Ali speaking to Entertainment Tonight about her unique relationship with Muhammad Ali, whose greatness she extended into women’s boxing as an undefeated four-time world champion with 21 knockouts in 24 victories. Since climbing out of the ring for good in 2007, she’s packed her knockout punch in an array of other rings. A sizzle reel:
She’s appeared on numerous TV shows, including Celebrity Apprentice, Dancing With the Stars, All-In With Laila Ali, Real Husbands of Hollywood and Chopped. She’s also holistic host of PodcastOne’s Laila Ali Lifestyle.
She’s author of Reach!, a motivational book for young women; and Food for Life: Delicious & Healthy Comfort Food From My Table To Yours!, coming in January.
She’s founder of the Laila Ali Lifestyle Brand of hair and skin-care products, a supporter of charitable organizations like Feeding America and Peace 4 Kids, and a sought-after inspirational speaker, which brings her here.
“What I’ve learned from a lifetime of reporting”
During 44 years at CBS, including 24 years as anchor of the CBS Evening News, Dan Rather interviewed every president since Eisenhower and personally covered history-making events from the Kennedy Assassination through Viet Nam, Watergate, Tiananmen Square, the fall of the Berlin Wall, 9/11, and the Iraq Invasion. A late addition to the Speaker Series lineup – substituting for fellow CBS veteran Charles Osgood – “few can match the authority, experience, and perspective [Rather] brings to almost any subject. From politics, the media, current events, and our country’s most pressing issues—to inspiring words of wisdom on leadership, education, social justice, civic involvement and the importance of philanthropy, Dan Rather speaks from the heart and treats audiences to a memorable encounter.”
All events are 7:30 p.m. at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets are $60 at BrowardCollegeSpeakerSeries.com.