The Boat Race on TV

Happy HTBS times with Lisa…

23 April 2020

By Tom Weil

Tom Weil finds a familiar blue sinuous curve on TV – and then not!

If one believes that television news counts as real news, one of the flagship stations in the U.S. for reliable essentially non-partisan broadcasts is the PBS NewsHour, watched every night by perhaps 1 million people, who may well constitute the majority of the informed, intelligent, culturally sophisticated and caring among the U.S. population who own TV sets. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has driven its numerous reporters to broadcasting from their homes. Other than often showing packed bookcases in the background, the camera usually reflects relatively little about the individual, but one glimpse of a wall in the home of one of the key reporters last week gave rise to an HTBS moment.

Lisa Desjardins is one of the most consistent voices on the NewsHour, regularly covering news of national import – especially Congressional happenings – in Washington, D.C. Depending on the camera angle, watching Lisa last week gave one some comfort that certain rowing institutions are stamped on our collective psyche in the most unexpected places. From a distance, one first noticed a familiar blue sinuous curve, and then the main title became clear – the Boat Race, reminding us and another 1 million or so viewers of one of the most iconic institutions in rowing…

Unhappy HTBS times with Ms. Desjardins.

But the collateral damage of the pandemic can be as unpredictable as it can be tragic. This week, having absorbed their morning diet of HTBS, delivered, notwithstanding COVID-19, with few interruptions by the remarkable Mr. Buckhorn, HTBS devotees could have reacted with horror as the camera now revealed some anonymous wall candy behind the unfaithful Ms. Desjardins. Why would someone choose to re-decorate their home broadcast niche in the midst of such a crisis, and why, oh why, would that choice involve the removal of such a happy reminder of good times past and to be hoped for again? Whether or not Judy Woodruff will conduct an investigation into the removal of the Boat Race image, we can only guess, but we can certainly mourn the infelicitous decision that has robbed us of this poignant comfort.


  1. I too caught a glimpse of the familiar blue line on Ms. Desjardins’s wall and I snapped photos of her and her “set” during a broadcast last week. I was very excited to see that. Is the poster an old London Underground promotional piece?

    Doing some web research on her and her husband, I didn’t find an obvious/public connection to rowing. Maybe there is one. And perhaps she’d be willing to describe it for HTBS fans, if her breakneck pace of work ever slows.

    Raoul Wertz


  2. I think that the rowing poster on Lisa’s wall is a copy of ‘The Boat Race’, by F. H. Stingemore, used as a promotional poster for the 1926 Boat Race by the Underground Electric Railway Company Ltd. The race took place on Saturday, 27 March, and was won by Cambridge by 5 lengths.

    If anyone can identify the replacement poster, I’ll doff my cap to them.

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