In the aftermath of Knowlton Nash's death, there's been a lot of wistful reminiscing about the former journalist's place in Canadian broadcasting.
I understand that Nash's many admirers want to express their appreciation for the important contribution the veteran newsman made to CBC News, and gratitude for the part he played as a generous mentor to scores of CBC journalists. Clearly, this is undeniable.
What is debatable, however, is the role of the news "anchor" as a cultural touchstone.
Some commentators have suggested that Nash - given his straightforward, self-effacing on-air persona - was not just a reporter, but a quintessential representative of Canada's agreeable character. A lot has been written about his habit of bidding viewers "good night" at the end of every newscast. Current CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge described this salutation as Nash's "lullaby" to Canada.
Others, including the Globe and Mail's John Doyle, have used Nash's death to remember the halcyon days when the public broadcaster's news and current affairs division enjoyed the resources and had the will to fulfill its mandate with "clarity" and "precision."
I worked at the CBC when Nash was hosting The National, and it was a place brimming with purpose, energy and conviction (as it is, I'm sure, to some extent today).
But even from my admittedly modest perch at the Mother Corp, I could see that CBC-TV News and Current Affairs was equally racked by insecurity, destructive cliques and incessant complaints over the lack of money and people to do its job.
The occasional CBC president tried to reassure the forever restive troops that while the multi-channel universe was on the horizon - the internet was still further in the distance - the CBC's "signature" place as this nation's "unrivalled" source of news would remain fixed.
Those "glory days" and The National's supposed hegemony would turn out to be fleeting, not simply because the CBC made strategic errors, but because of the explosion of immediate alternative web-based sources of information that are challenging the CBC's editorial primacy.
The news anchor in the mould of Nash or Mansbridge is an anachronism.
Comedians like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Rick Mercer, Bill Maher and lately John Oliver have clinically exposed this inherent absurdity.
Stewart, in particular, has appropriated the anchor role not to deliver the news, but routinely to offer viewers incisive context for the news, to parade the media's habitual hypocrisy and institutional amnesia and speak truth to power - all with entertaining dexterity and, of course, a punchline.
In some important respects, Stewart is doing the job that today's so-called anchors should be doing.
Rather than telling us what we already may know, the anchor should be exploring what we don't know by spending time and resources delving deeply into the context of events, not with insiders and pundits but with reporters.
This is not a revolutionary idea. But until it's adopted, it doesn't matter who occupies the anchor chair.
In any event, the idea of Nash as the reassuringly polite if erudite version of a Canadian is predictably simplistic. Surely, our complex national identity, if it exists, can't be reduced to this irritating cliché any longer.
Sometimes a "good night" is just a "good night."