tv Reliable Sources CNN May 27, 2012 8:00am-9:00am PDT
is not able to send a spacecraft to the international space station, but it has plans to put a man on the moon and has begun its own space station hoping to fill the vacuum left by the end of nasa's space shuttle program. thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. ly see you next week. stay tuned for "reliable sources." it began with a democratic mayor's moment of cabbedor morphing into such a big media story about mitt romney's record as have i venture capitalist and president obama had to respond. >> i think it's important to recognize that this issue is not a "distraction." this is part of the debate that we're going to be having in this election campaign. >> but are news organizations capturing the complexity of the bain capital controversy or just trumpeting dualing sonned bites and sob stories. is he the man who gave the world the real housewives and other reality shows. here's what happened the other day when we met up with andy
cohen. >> i'll let you wave to the fans and we'll go inside. >> hey, guys. you here to get your book signed later? okay. thank you. thanks for coming. side pony, cute. i see you. >> how did he become such a pop icon? a conversation with the brains behind bravo. while diane, charlie, barbara, ted, robin, and george were in front of the camera, david weston was running abc news. we'll have a candid chat about the way he dealt with major mistakes, political pressure and painful layoffs. and new orleans is becoming the largest american city without a daily newspaper. as the times pecayune cuts down to three times a week. is this a death spiral for the daily paper? i'm hourt kurtz, and this is "reliable sources." it looked like this was a garden variety political flap
over cory booker, the new york mayor was saying on television that he didn't like the obama campaign's ad against romney's tennesseure at bain capital or an aaborted plan to rip the former president's pastor. >> the last point i'll make is this kind of stuff nauz ating to me on both sides, and it's gnaws oughting to the american public. enough is enough. stop attacking private equity and jeremiah wright. >> within hours the booker released what joe scarborough said looked like a hostage video. >> let me be leer. mitt romney has made his business record a centerpiece of his campaign. >> the liberals went off on booker, especially at msnbc, especially chris matthews. >> i want you to just hold while we watch the president now do this very intricate response to what the mayor of newark said yesterday, which i think was an act of sabotage. whatever the intention was, he was trashing the entire obama campaign in one appearance on
"meet the press." >> are the media bringing more heat than light to the debate over romney's business record? joining us here in washington ann, deputy national political editor of the washington post, and roger simon, political columnist for politico. roger simon, why do liberal commentators complain when a politician like cory booker actually says something interesting as opposed to towing the party line? >> because it's off message. >> how is it our job to enforce politicians being on message? >> it's the exact opposite of our job, but whenever we see a politician actually getting off message, we say, oh, my gosh, that campaign has screwed up. he is making a mistake. and, of course, the white house didn't hope by publicly taking cory booker to the wood shed, which it's done a number of times in this campaign, and forcing cory booker to humiliate himself on national media and twitter. >> ann, we in the press, it seems to me, often complain that politicians stick to the talking points. they're so predictable and don't
deviate from the script. then we take their heads off when they do? >> do we that i their heads off or relish in it? i think there were other liberals and democrats who were the ones who took his head off after the fact. not to mention the white house. >> chris matthews said it was sabotage on mayor booker's part. >> that's a certain perspective. i think what we all revelled in was the fact that it was dissinges among the ranks. we haven't seen that very much from either side. after a long season where the republicans were all disagreeing with each other, to see a little bit of daylight, which at the end it was just a little built of daylight between a few handful of democrats and the administration, and not much, i have to say, over private equity and how it should be treated. we got pretty excited about that. >> you have gotten to the broader point, which is after the initial flap over cory booker and ed rendell and who didn't like the advertising attack, we kind of waddled into a broader debate which is what we call broader takeover
artists, but it seems that tv seems more interested in the soundbyte warfare. >> it is really difficult to explain exactly what a private equity firm is versus, let's say, a venture capital firm on tv, which needs good pictures and snappy soundbytes, but often conquers that. what it did lead to after the initial mish-mosh, it led to a number of serious stories, however, on what i think is the central point -- one of the central points of the campaign. did romney devote himself to creating jobs, becoming the job creator in chief, as he said, at bain, or was he devoted to maximizing profits? and, as president obama retorted, that is not the way to be a good president. it's not about maximizing profits. i think the media used this flap to get into some more serious questions and did it quite well. >> i would say that was true of newspapers. i think some papers, including
the washington post, have done a good job of running piece that is explain that it was not romney's job to create jobs. it was his job to maximize profs for himself and his partners, and explaining there were some successes and failures. looking at the whole question of what these wall street companies do, but the media in general, i guess i'm indicting television here, maybe it's something that's too complicated for 1:45 piece on the evening news. >> well, it's complicated. it's not unlike the debt ceiling talks. money, numbers, this is not what good television is made of, but it is the kruxz of it, and that is to great frustration to both campaigns really where they've wanted to try and have the substantive conversation and they have felt like little things, what they would say are little things like cory booker's one remark getting blown widely out of proportion. s on the other hand, it does lead to what -- it has to inevitably be a more -- it doesn't stay silly the whole time. that conversation led for a conversation about whether democrats have had their own issues of private equity and
whether they've been funded. >> they like getting the money from wall street furmz. >> that's a real conversation, and i think it's good we're having it. >> this has led to what has been increasingly evident is that people want the media not to do he-said-she-said, not to do romney's point of view, obama's point of view. they want us to say this guy is lying, this guy is telling the truth. they say that is the media's job. >> somebody in the media is not getting the memo, and i would quibble with your suggestion that campaigns want to have substantive conversation. you look at the advertising right now of both obama and romney, you have sob stories, individual people interviewed who -- it's heart-rending. people have lost their jobs either because of the last three years, which, of course, the romney campaign blames on the president, or because of the last -- of romney's tenure at bain capital and they're jumping on the companies that went
bankrupt. as far as mitt romney himself, he did an interview with the times mark halprin. there's video of that. romney was asked three or four straight questions about bain capital. he managed to dance around every one. let's take a brief look. >> what specific skills or policies did you learn at bain that would help you create an environment where jobs would be created? >> that's a bit of a question like saying what have you learned in life that would help you lead? my whole life has been learning to lead from my parents to my education, to the experience i had in the private sector, to helping run the olympics, and then, of course, helping guide a state. >> so if you asked romney what about bain, and he gives that general answer, what specifically about your time at bain, and he basically doesn't answer. >> it's tricky. another answer he gave at another point in this interview was to say i'm not here to talk about this. let's hear about the president's record, which is fair, of course. >> is it fair to say that romney repeatedly docked when asked to explain and defend his record?
>> there's no question there. now, the campaign at other points in time has, many of the, engaged on the bain question and talked about specifics of what the deals were. specifically on the one that is they liked. they like talking a great deal about staples, for example, which is a company that did gain jobs over time under bain's stewardship. we have talked especially about the success story, and they do engage for romney sitting down in an interview that's going to have limited time that's not what he wants to be getting into the leads on something like that. i think he wants to produce a happier sounding and better sounding soundbyte, ultimately one that's about president obama. >> i guess the good news is he is starting to do more interviews and will talk to wall street journal columnist peggy noonan. he hasn't bone the sunday shows. let's go to the obama side. press secretary jay carney, who wrote that the rate of federal spending increase under barack obama has been lower than although predecessors in the oval office since dwight
eisenhower, and carney said do not buy into the bs that you hear. to the contrary. doing so is a sign of sloth and lazyness. are you slothful? >> not more than usual. i don't know what that level is. here again is what drives people crazy. they want the media to say no, jay carney is wrong or, yes, jay carney is right. there are all sorts of things now like fact checking things from newspapers, like the washington post and others, who try to arrive at a -- >> are you a columnist, and you can say whatever you want. if you are a strit reporter or editing reporter as you are now, is that the role of the press is that this guy is lying. >> i think that the white house is asking for was to not listen to the other side's point of view, which is never going to happen, and i think both sides in this happens increasingly in a very partisan city.
both sides discount the other side's point of view as being in any way credible, and so they're demanding you only listen to them. that's obviously not going to happen. i think any story will have the perspective of both sides, but i think even regular reporters are under some responsibility to try and figure out what the basic truth is. it may not be as easy when it comes to things like -- >> i agree with that totally, and you can't play he-said-she-said. our role is much more important than that. we shouldn't be biassed or take sides. the fact checker column. westerned call our politician whz they misrepresent the facts. when we come back, some sobering news from new orleans which will no longer have a daily newspaper. [ male announcer ] the inspiring story
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>> new orleans times picayune said it will publish only three times a week. three our newhouse papers also going back from three day a week schedule, and roger simon, are you an old newspaper guy. particularly heart breaking in the case of the times picayune did tha did such courageous reporting during katrina when some of the editors and reporters lost their own homes. >> it is heart breaking, and it may be a sign of more of the fact that new orleans has not come back from the damage of katrina more of a sign that newspapers are dead. there are parts of new orleans that still don't have electricity. people aren't going to sit at their computers and read it, but if it is a national trend, it's a shame. you know, there's something
about reading a print product. you don't have to plug it in. you don't have to worry about the battery. you can put it in your pocket and swat flies with it. >> you can take it on the subway. maybe that's an older person because so many younger people just naturally go on-line, go on the ipad. ann, you worked at the boston globe and "new york times" before you worked at the washington post. i don't think it's unique to new orleans. i don't think it's the last one we're going to see, and it's not good news for the newspaper industry. >> it may not be the last we see. news print is expensive, and i mean, obviously, news gathering is expensive in general, but so is the actual act of putting out a hard copy that gets driven to your doorstep. >> do you mean printing presses and all of that stuff. i mean, i agree that there is something special about holding on to it. i think what we're seeing now is certainly a generational divide, but also people who themselves look at both versions. you know, they look at what's on-line, and they look at the hard paper. it's two different experiences now. whether both are sustainable is the question. >> this is not just nostalgia. it is much harder to make large amounts of money off the web
than it is off of a print ad. a print ad makes you much, much more dough than on-line, and that is what media companies are trying to figure out. how do we make dough on both? >> the "new york times", of course, has gone to the pay wall or the partial pay wall, but you have hit on the crucial thing, which is the newspaper stops because a lot of people, i think, out there are 20 years saying so what, let the time picayune become a welcome back site. there is a financial impact, and the paper also mounts severe job cuts, and as it continues a trend where there are fewer reporters at the statehouse, fewer reporters at city hall, nobody checking -- it's one thing to do for a nationalist paper. the local community paper isn't reporting on what goes on in city government. the local tv stations aren't going to do it. it was behind the he-said-she-said. sometimes it takes several days of hardened work by experienced reporters who are getting good
salaries, and that usually happens at newspapers more than it does as web sites. not always. >> at the same time the old newspaper model of trying to be a smorgasbord and be something to everybody is clearly broken because you can search on-line for sports, entertainment, and if everybody is -- you name it. that means places like the washington post and others, you worked at the baltimore sun, and you worked at chicago as well have had to adapts because they can't pedal all their wears on-line. >> you would think that that would lead to local papers having a certain michigan they could thrive on, and we thought for a long time that was going to be the case, but it hasn't proven to be that way. there's not enough eyeballs in certain cities or in the case of new orleans people willing to pay for it to keep them afloat. you're right. the public accountability not just in new orleans and the south as you describe but all across the country has been suffering for more than a decade. >> i can't be optimistic at this point, even though i love print, and i think that there is a place in our lives, at least
some of our lives, for the newspaper that lands on your doorstep. >> i'm optimistic. we've had print since ancient times and modern print since gutenberg, and let's not forget, there are millions of americans who don't have computers, who don't have an internet connection. >> that's going to change over time. >> that don't have high speed -- >> that will change over time. >> the buy-in is rather expensive to get a laptop. it's -- there is a niche for newspapers. newspapers can figure out how to make it back. >> last point, even reporters and editors who work for newspapers, they're also feeding tidbits on twitter and putting stuff on facebook, breaking stories on-line, blogging. to what extent are we having to work harder? that's okay. giving it away and, therefore, they're needing less reason for people to pay $1 for the local paper. >> it's tough. all reporters have the instinct of wanting information to go to people. that's what we do for a living. professional gossips in some ways. the job of the paper is to
figure out how to make money off of it. that's going to be the trick. >> ann, roger, thanks very much for stopping by. up next -- >> so there was me, dan rather, and john mayer doing a shotsky at the end of the show. that's fun tv. you won't get that anywhere else. >> andy cohen dish on his wild and crazy life at bravo. ans... but their shakes aren't always made for people with diabetes. that's why there's glucerna hunger smart shakes. they have carb steady, with carbs that digest slowly to help minimize blood sugar spikes. and they have six grams of sugars. with fifteen grams of protein to help manage hunger... look who's getting smart about her weight. [ male announcer ] glucerna hunger smart. a smart way to help manage hunger and diabetes. [ male announcer ] glucerna hunger smart. what happens when classroom teachers get the training... ...and support they need? schools flourish and students blossom. that's why programs like... ...the mickelson exxonmobil teachers academy... ...and astronaut sally ride's science academy are helping our
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andy cohen used to come a serious journalist. since joining the bravo network he has green lighted all kinds of reality shows from the real housewives series to top chef and become the star of his own gab fest "watch what happens live." now he is out with a book "most talk tiff stories from behind the lines of pop culture." i caught up with him when he was here for a book signing in bethesda, maryland. >> how are you? >> i'm already feeling overdressed. >> let it loose. let it go. >> i'm trying to feel the energy here. >> yeah. >> i don't want to blow your cover, but you were a legitimate news guy. >> i was. >> you were semi-ridge legitimate. >> you were a cbs news producer. >> yes. for ten years. >> based on what you write in this book, i wouldn't say you were hungering after hard news. >> it's interesting. i was all over the map i would say. sometimes i really loved it, and a lot of times i viewed it as an
imposition on my life. >> yeah. you were with tammy faye baker in palm springs and got a call from the bosses, and there's a huge massive storm in northern california. we would like you to go cover it. your reaction? >> no. i'm with tammy faye. this is going to be a great interview. what are you talking about? >> who cares i know. this is tv news. >> that's the thing. it was like -- every time my beeper went off and it was the day of the beeper, i should say, just to date myself, it was from 1990 to 2000, every time my beeper went off, i just was like what? where am i going? what's going to happen to me? i just felt like it was an imposition on my person. like, oh, my god. oh, hello, you're booked on the next flight to new orleans, hurricane andrew is going to be hitting there late tonight. >> classic example is you were with paula zaun at cbs, and you are trying to finish aingle an interview with oprah. by the way, in this book you describe yourself as a lying, weasle coward. >> in that case i was a lying weasle coward. >> you are not saying you are always --
>> no, in that specific -- yes, yes. >> and you get a call -- no, then you were at another oprah show. you get asked to go to oklahoma city and apparently a bomb went off. >> this is embarrassing, but i am the butt of all of my jokes in the book, and i think that it's more fun to talk about your failures than your successes because you can learn from your failures and also you can laugh at them. i was in the audience of the oprah winfrey show. oprah, my god es. i'm in the audience. i'm in the womb of oprah at harpo productions. >> you worship oprah? >> i worship oprah. i get beeped. it is new york. what, i say. it's during a commercial break. this incident has happened in oklahoma city. now, i'm not proud to say this, okay, but my first reaction was it doesn't sound like a big deal, okay? >> we have cameras rolling. >> i'm telling you. and then bill owens who now is a
senior guy at "60 minutes" said to me, andy, i'm going to dial back. take your oprah blinders off. here's what's happening. i was, like, all right. by the way, that experience at oklahoma city -- i was there for two or three days, didn't sleep, crashed pieces the whole time. >> tour of duty. >> i did, and it had a profound impact on me at that time and to this day, and so i think that the idea that i never, you know -- i just had to let it settle in. there's something happening and now i have to go to that place. >> after that period of your life, gu to bravo where you are this big executive, and people to come and want to get on the air, and i'm asking you to tell a story. it's sell ashs, and i need the ratings. sibel shepherd pitches you the show. what does she do to catch your attention? >> cybil shepherd pitches me a show, and the show is -- are you familiar with absolutely fabulous? >> we don't care what the show is. get to the punch line. >> the show is a docu-series about her and her best friend,
and they're crazy and they do everything. kind of like a reality "absolutely fabulous." she says it's very hot in this room, it's very hot in this room. i think we should take our shirts off. i say that's interesting. all right. i'll take my shirt off. like i was warm too. so now i'm there with across from me is a braless cybil shepherd -- i'm sorry. across from me is a shirtless cybil shepherd and her best friend both wearing very pretty black bras, and there's a mrs. robinson thing happening, but it's -- i guess their gaydars weren't pinging at that moment. >> they were not aware that you were not going to swoon over the -- >> i did see that it was quite exciting what was happening. the next suggestion is we should take our pants off. and i -- am i continuing with this story? >> how far does it go? >> well, basically i -- this was -- i was in l.a. this day. i don't know why, but i was
freeballing that day, okay? i don't know if you can use that term on cnn, but -- >> we'll find out. >> you'll cut around this if you need to. so i was not comfortable taking my pants off ultimately. i didn't pick up the show, and -- >> i don't know if i would have had that strength of character. of course, all of america is now jealous of this guy. let me move on. you are basically the father, the grandfather, the godfather of the real housewives series. the first one was real housewives of orange county. >> yes. >> and -- >> have you ever seen that show, howard? >> yes, i confess. i haven't watched every week. >> fine. >> you were sure that first episode that the woman involved would hate it? >> i was. >> your mother hated it? >> my mom didn't care for it either. >> i was sure that when i saw the intro, the graphic intro to the show, the open, i said -- i was very concerned about what the women were going to say. it was the intro had one of the women said, you know, everyone in orange county has, you know, this size boobs, and someone else said, you know, i love
botox and beauty is skin deep. whatever. on and on and on. i love money. and i was, like, oh, no. this is -- what's going to happen when they see this? >> yeah. >> this is not going to be good. >> but? >> and an executive that i work with said -- i said can you find out if they've seen the open, what's happening, and she came to me a few minutes later and said they saw it and they loved it, and i said this is going to be great. >> so it became this big franchise, and then you do real housewives of d.c., and you have as one of your pairs the salahis who have become famous or infamous when they tried to crash the white house party, and everybody thinks this is a great bravo publicity stunt and it was going to send the ratings soaring, but you were shocked at what happened. >> i was absolutely shocked. we were all shocked. when i saw her on the cover of the new york post i thought, wow, that looks like that woman that we cast on "the d.c. housewives." there was so much speculation.
most of it wrong about our involvement in that and that they -- they went there trying to get on the housewives, and the truth is, as it later came out, we had been shooting for months. it was our last weekend of shooting, and i think, you know -- i really liked the housewives of d.c., but what happened is i think the show got derailed by that one incident and it kept a lot of people from entering the gates of the show. >> and tragically they're now divorcing. but now you created -- >> tragically. >> you created these reality show stars. do you feel at all responsible even guilty perhaps that giving rise to this genre of some really bad television? >> you know, i don't think what we do is bad television. >> i'm not saying that you are doing tshg but all the imitators and everybody wants to find the magic formula. >> i only feel responsible for what we have at bravo, and i am really proud of what we have at bravo, and the housewives is part of it.
we have top chef, which beat amazing race. >> which you thought was going to be a failure? >> i was worried when we were shooting top chef. >> you can take credit for it. >> when you are in the field shooting something, you worry. i mean, if you are a good producer, that's what you do. you worry. you could feel great about it, but you still may not know whether it's going to catch on or not. you know, by the way, there are things i have been in the field about and felt great that have done poorly, so it's interesting -- >> it's an art, not a science. >> exactly. >> then after, you know, being this behind the scenes person, you end up hosting your own show "watch what happens live." you have an interesting mix of guests there, and you confess that the questions you ask are rude, invasive, and divisive. i hope, by the way, i'm living up to that high standard. >> occasionally. >> why do you do that? it sounds kind of mean. >> you know what, the funny thing is it's a very positive show, and i would never want to embarrass a guest or make them feel like they didn't have a great time, but we try to go
there and have fun with people. absolutely. >> one of your recent guests was rachel maddow. >> yes. she was great. >> you didn't exactly have an in depths discussion of the issues. >> i didn't, but we had a lot of fun, and i think that what people saw was a different side of rachel maddow. i mean, and i think that there's value in that. dan rather was just on, and with john mayer, the singer, and it was a wednesday night, wednesday night, as i'm sure you know from watching my show very well is gemmy fallon scottsky night. he made this shotski, which is a ski with three shot glasses. whoever the guests are on wednesday night, there was me, dan rather, and john mayer doing a shotski at the end of the show. that's fun tv. ure not going to get that anywhere else. >> not going to argue with that one. coming back to your role as a bravo executive and falling short of somebody actually just disrobing to get your attention, what makes a good bravo pitch and what are some of the worst pitches you've heard? >> i think what makes a great
pitch is something that's on brand that's something that hasn't been done before and that is usually guided by a personality that is different from anyone that we've come in contact with. if you look at the people who make up the bravo landscape from jeff lewis to rachel zoe and padma and tabitha and the millionaire matchmaker, these are very strong personalities that people love to watch and that you can't -- that you don't see anywhere else, and tipically all of them are really good at something, and then in the case of the housewives, i call the housewives sociology of the rich. it's fun to watch and guilt-free gossiping that you can have. it's like the modern day soap opera in my mind, but what makes a good pitch is all of that. in terms of the worst pitches that i've gotten, you know, it's usually -- >> what's up there? >> once someone said there's a big star coming in. we have a huge star we're
bringing in. that this huge star wants to meet with you. we can't tell you who it is. it's major. i thought, oh, okay, it's j. lo. j. lo loves bravo. she's said that a lot in interviews. i go to the meeting, and it's -- i don't know if you're familiar with the hollywood squares back in the day, but it was -- >> i used to love hollywood squares. >> it was -- >> that was the reality show of its time. >> exactly. it was madam, the little marrionette. that was the big star that was making her return, and i was, like -- i was actually -- i love pop culture. i love pop culture, and i love especially 1970s and 1980s because i grew up on that, and so i was the only one in the room excited. >> after the break, i take a little stroll with andy cohen. all energy development comes with some risk,
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more now of my interview with bravo's andy cohen. >> hey, you guys. >> what is it like? >> thanks for coming. >> you used to be just like a producer. >> i know. it's so weird. >> now you can't walk through airports. >> it's very weird. >> does it all go to your head? you can tell me. >> no. i'm from st. louis, please. >> you don't have the feeling that you're now kind of a
special talent and that you have -- >> no. >> people who cater to you -- >> haven't you seen my huge glam squad that's here. yeah, exactly. you should see my posse. >> at some point, andy, you decided that straight news was not for you. >> yeah. hard news wasn't for me, and i think that the business changed so much when i was there. we were competing with the rosie o'donnell show and entertainment tonight and access and regis and kelli, and it became difficult on a number three show to get people first and get interviews that had traction and delivered numbers. >> that's how you were judged, by whether you could deliver the big names? that's the. >> it was one of the things i was judged by, and the truth of the matter it was always such -- it was such a positive experience and that -- we did so much good there in that time that i definitely had a lot of
laughs, and i wouldn't trade that. the thing i didn't mention that's also interesting is i think my time at cbs news informed everything i'm doing right now in that -- i'm interviewing people now. i interviewed people for ten years at cbs news. off camera, but i -- you know,ive the guy that i cut out of the pieces. >> you were never on camera. >> exactly. >> and now? >> and now there you go. >> and also, i spent a tremendous amount of time in edit rooms at cbs news, at 48 hours, and at the morning show crashing pieces. 48 hours doing a lot of character-driven story telling which is essentially what we're doing now in a way with the housewives. >> it was your boot camp for bravo. >> it really was. >> you can check out the behind the scenes with andy koen at cnn.com/rehibl sources. former abc news president david weston on his sometimes rocky tenure at the network. look at the car! my dad's gonna kill me dude...
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>> he ran abc news for 14 years steering them through wars, campaign attacks, and a tough media landscapes and making a few mistakes along the way. david weston examine that is career called "exit interview." i sat down with him in new york. >> david weston accident welcome. thank you. looking back at your tenure of abc news, you have been a
lawyer, you have a background as a journalist, and very early in your tenure, you were tested. principal sis diana died, and you would like him to be part of a special, and his reaction was? >> not positive. it's fair to say. one of the great joys of the job that i had was working with people like peter jennings, and diane sawyer and barbara walters. ted coppell, people like that. peter and i developed a close relationship, but this was early on. sdmreefs testing you, and he was wondering if you were sort of taking the network in a tabloid direction. it was a huge story. >> it was a huge story, and it came up over labor day weekend, so i was alone in the newsroom with my staff, and peter was out of pocket, and everybody else was out of pocket, and i decided to do a primetime special, and peter called in late at night and caught me on the newsroom floor while we were in a special report and said i understand you are thinking about a primetime special, and if you do that, no one will ever take you seriously as the president of abc news. >> i guess you survived that. another huge story the following
ye year. there was a well produced story about the pope visiting cuba. ted coppell did not want to change that, and you did not overrule or say let's jump on the story. mistake? >> i was down in havana. direct answer, yes. i would do it differently if i had to -- the pope was visiting cuba, and it was an historic event, and we had everyone down there. ted was down there, and peter was down there, and i got a call out of the blue at dinner in old havana saying there's this intern that claims this story, and my first reaction is that's ridiculous, and then as the story developed over the next few hours, it became a real story here, and ted was uncomfortable going with it because we were literally confirmed 20 minutes before air. >> well, isn't that what you do in the breaking news business? confirm stories on the run. >> provided you're absolutely sure you are right, and ted argued strongly we want to make sure we have this right. the story has moved a lot. let's keep moving. i went with ted's judgment. i deferred to him. in retrospect you should go with news. >> it tended to be a pretty big
story as i recall. >> we broke it along with the washington post and on our website, actually. >> not on the air. >> right. >> you and i tangled early on when i found out that leonardo decaprio had been sent by abc news to interview president clinton for an earth day program and i wrote and i did not recall this until reading your book that there was a decision of titanic proportions. your staff was not happy about this, and you defended it. >> it was an effort by me and my boss to try to get a larger and frankly younger audience to come to a serious environment special, and leonardo decaprio that year, who was in an interesting environment. he was the chairman of earth day, and that's how it came about. >> he is a movie star. >> he is a movie star, but i was trying to do something that i thought was valuable and try to get people to watch it.
>> you should get the facts straight, first of all gsh. >> before you -- >> secondly, i think it was the right thing to attempt to do. it was done for the right reasons, and i said there is a difference between journalists and nonjournal it'ses, and i came to learn that over my time. as you say, i came from outside of journalism. it took me time, but when you see someone like barbara walters prepare for an interview, you realize how much skill and discipline goes into it. >> with all deference to leo, there is that distinction. 9/11 happens, and you decided that abc journalists should not wear flag pins on the air. it was a patriotic time, understandab understandably, in the country. terri moran did so anyway. you did not like that. tell me about your thinking on that issue. >> it came up while i was in the control room. we were on the air for 24 hours a day, seven days a week with no commercials or anything else, and i was in the control room because there was constant reporting coming in during that time, and we were having to vet to make decisions about what to do and not to do, and peter couldn't help, and i had to really be involved in the decision process. they came to us and said we're
being asked whiure not wearing lapel pins because a number of other outlites, particularly cable news -- fox news in particular, and they integrated the american flag into the back drop and the bumpers and the teases and everything else. we had long had a policy that we wouldn't let abc news we wouldn't wear any lapel pins at any sort, the theory being when you are reporting the news, you should be reporting the news, not taking a position and i said quickly, wither going to stick with our policy and stand by that and i believe to this day, that was the right decision. >> you used some pretty strong language about abc's reporting and the media, in general's handling of the claim by the bush white house that saddam hussein had weapons of mass destruction. >> yeah. >> you say we all failed the american people. >> i think we did. and as i say, it's one of my experiences with peter jennings because peter, who was, of course, an extraordinary journalists and one of his biggest strengths is he was always skeptical of every ebb and everything, particularly when it came to the government and we had more than one discussion leading up to the war
in iraq, whatever happens, they will find weapons of mass destruction. he said don't be so sure and i wish i had listened to him. >> speaking of that whole era, a difficult one for the country, as the iraq war turned sour, "night line," ted koppel going to devote an entire program reading the names of the fallen, those that died, not any particular commentary accompanying it. karl rove said this was a classic example of anti-war bias. interesting conversation you had with him. >> we did have a conversation and tried to persuade him what you said, we saw it, genuinely, ted and i saw it, a very straightforward way of honoring the men and women who had fallen, a year into the war at that point. the numbers were growing, things were not going well. we wanted people to look in their eyes, their photographs, have their names, it was fair. he would have none of it. i said, karl if fox news put exactly this program on, would you feel differently? all together. how can than, the same program?
because everyone knows fox news is not anti-war and everyone knows you are. which by the way, was not true. ted had been on an embed, felt strongly about the iraq war and i had no indication he was against it at all. he felt strongly everyone should understand the price we were paying. >> a culture war going on, critics felt abc and the other networks and major news organizations were giving too much time to opponents of the war at a time some thought that was unpatriotic. looking back, people who opposed the war, given how it turned out, certainly had a strong case to make, whether we should gone in it or not, totally mishandled or poorly execute you had. >> not that long after 9/11 and a sense in the country we had been -- we had been badly wounded and lost thousands of our innocent civilians and a feeling across the country of patriotism. at the same time, we were criticized fairly severely for even trying to present another side to the story, which i think was exactly the right thing to do in retrospect, it was our job
but did come under real criticism for it at the time. >> the last part of this book, you write quite candidly, what,000 do before leaving the president so i have abc news, which is calling the quarter of the news staff, you say you had no choice, elaborate rationale, compete in the modern era, everybody has fewer resources. of course this has to hurt. it hurt the people and me as the one calling -- as you know, news organizations are very tight-knit groups, spent years and years and years together. >> on human level, you are letting people go who you respect and who you have worked with closely. >> absolutely. and it was very painful. that said, this is a specific instance what is going on across the news media, the entire country. we see this everywhere all the time and a necessary adjustment of the news media to a very changing landscape. the question if we are going to have a strong, robust news media going forward who can do original reporting, how can we have a business structure that supports that? and i concluded, i believe i was right rushing the best way for
abc news to survive and go on and flourish and be strong in the future was to come to term with our corke built up in a different time and era. take advantage of technology, that we had not fully taken advantage of. we could take advantage of partnerships. we did that. i believe that was right. i luke at abc news today and i think it is going on from strength to strength, in part because we made those very painful adjustments. >> it is a form of tree. >> i can't you can't sit there and tell me with fewer bureaus and boots on the ground to borrow a military analogy that some stories are not getting attention or not getting covered in a way that would have been -- fine to say it is necessary. at the same time, don't have you to acknowledge that it does hurt the journalism? >> tough make different decisions about coverage. no question. you can't could have everything that you once did. the question was everything you were covering as valuable as it should have been? tough make important decision. while we were making cut, investing more in our investigative unit. i concluded correctly that that
was something that really was valuable. let's be honest, going backwards in time, across all the news media there are stories incredibly valuable and incredibly important t is important for people to find those stories and come to them. there's also some stories not as valuable. so, you do have -- it is triage but it is, i think, cutting where it is not going to hurt the american public ultimately. >> television networks moving more of their efforts online as well, makes sense. david wednesday, thanks very much for joining us. >> thank you, howard. good to be you. >> i will have some final thoughts in a moment. ryales. but if you take away the faces on the trees... take away the pixie dust. take away the singing animals, and the storybook narrator... [ man ] you're left with more electric trucks. more recycled shipping materials... and a growing number of lower emissions planes... which still makes for a pretty enchanted tale. ♪ la la la [ man ] whoops, forgot one... [ male announcer ] sustainable solutions. fedex. solutions that matter. the teacher that comes to mind for me
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time now for the media monitor, our weekly look at the hits and errors in the news business. when roger ales goes too far, he goes overboard. take this week went fox news accused "the new york times" reporters of being "a bunch of like scum." really? all of them? fox news executive realizes that ales' language was too hash. a foreign correspondent who edit the washington times has been lifting material without credit in his column for the paper, sometimes barely changing a word. the 85-year-old journalist dismissed the criticism as minor, telling the "washington post" i can't believeu'