Designated Survivor


“Without truth, there can be no trust.”
Tom Kirkman



Back in 2016, there was a new ABC television show I enjoyed watching, Designated Survivor, staring Kiefer Sutherland. If you’re not familiar with this show, you can now watch it on Netflix.

The show begins when an attack on the night of the State of the Union address claims the lives of the President and most of the Cabinet. A Housing and Urban Development secretary, Tom Kirkman is catapult to the oval office as designated survivor.

With the onset of two White House staff members testing positive to the Coronavirus, I can’t help but remember this riveting show and began thinking: Who would become our Designated Survivor if both Trump and Pence become unable to perform as President and Vice President?

The procedure for Designated Survivors originated in the 1950s during the Cold War because of possible risk of nuclear attack. There have been several changes to how our country would handle such an emergency. Under the Presidential Succession Act, the Vice President, Mike Pence would be the first in the line of succession to the presidency, followed by the speaker of the House, Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and the president pro tempore of the Senate, GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley. After those three officials are the Cabinet officials. The Secretary of State is fourth in the line of succession, followed by the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, and the Attorney General, with the Secretary of Homeland Security — the most recently created department — in the last place.

In order to be the designated survivor, a cabinet member must be eligible to be President. For example, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, can’t be the designated survivor, as she was born in Taiwan and is thus constitutionally disqualified from serving as a designated survivor.

Shine On

Viewing Habits

“I have a problem with the strip
that runs along the bottom of the news programs.
Don’t these idiots who run the news programs know
we don’t want to read.
That’s why we’re watching TV.”
Jerry Seinfeld


Viewing Habits

Standing behind the Ampex Mark IV Video Tape Recorder. From left to right: Charlie Anderson, Ray Dolby, Alex Maxey, Shelby Henderson, Charles Ginsburg, and Fred Pfost.

We have become so spoiled with our current technology. We can stream television and movies virtually any time and on a multitude of devices. When television first began, most shows were broadcast live because of the limitations of the technology. There were no home DVR‘s. There were no video tapes that broadcasters used. And no sports slow-motion instant replays. All our television shows, including the news was broadcast live.

Thanks to some very innovative men, we now have the luxury of taping shows and watching them when we want to watch them with or without commercials.

In the early 1950s, engineer Charles Ginsburg and his team at Ampex Corporation, Charles Andersen, Ray Dolby, Shelby Henderson, Fred Pfost, and Alex Maxey developed the world’s first practical video tape recorder known as the Video Television Recorder aka VTR. These video tape recorders would allow television stations to record shows and replay them when they wanted to.

After several years of testing and development, on November 30, 1956 The Ampex Mark IV Video Tape Recorder went on the air, for the first time, from CBS Television City, in Hollywood, California, broadcasting a West Coast delayed broadcast of DOUGLAS EDWARDS AND THE NEWS. This, as far as it is known, was the first time in history that any video tape had been broadcast anywhere. NBC followed suit at the beginning of 1957, and ABC began delayed broadcasts from video tape for the West Coast in early April of 1957.

This VTR invention revolutionized television broadcasting forever. Thanks to Ginsberg and his team, we now have entire control over what and when we watch our favorite shows. Which today, has dramatically changed all of our television viewing habits.

Shine On