in "get the picture" john morris recounts his career in photojournalism. he sat down in 1998 to tell the inside story behind several images including the london air raid, the d-day landing during world war ii, the assassination of robert kennedy. this is about an hour. c-span: john morris, author of "get the picture," where did you get that title? >> guest: well, that's a--that was a struggle, believe me. it took two years to find the right title, and now we're struggling to get a title in french, which is even worse. but a--so we don't have a title in french, but "get the picture," is--is an active title, and my editor came up with it. c-span: whose picture is this? >> guest: it's a picture by david turnley, who happened to have won a pulitzer prize for his work in south africa. it's in south africa. and the photographer you see is dav--is jim noctway of magnum, who's probably today's most celebrated photographer. he's won the robert capa award of the overseas press club three times.
and you don't get that easily. c-span: you said the magic two words: robert capa. >> guest: right. c-span: who was he? >> guest: robert capa was perhaps the most famous war photographer of all time. many people have now seen a new movie called "saving private ryan," which is based on the landing on omaha beach on d-day, june 6th, 1944. and i was the editor of bob capa's pictures of the real thing. he was my colleague at life magazine. c-span: it wasn't his real name. >> guest: no, his real name was andre friedmann. he was born in--in budapest, and took the name capa because it was short and good in almost any language. c-span: i want to come back to robert capa in a moment, but john morris lived in how many places in the world? >> guest: well, there's six cities in my life. i grew up in chicago.
i've worked mostly in new york, but i spent a year in los angeles. i've worked in washington for several years. and during the war, i lived and worked in london. and now i live in paris. c-span: what organizations have you worked for in your life? >> guest: i started out with life magazine all through world war ii. that's where i got my basic training. and then i became picture editor of ladies' home journal, executive editor of magnum photos, which is an international cooperative picture agency and with offices now in four cities. and then i got into newspapers. first the washington post and, finally, the new york times. and when i went to paris 15 years ago, i cooked up a job as paris correspondent for the national geographic. c-span: where do you live now? >> guest: paris. c-span: and throughout these years, what was your job? >> guest: i was always a picture editor. i was kind of a lazy writer, and i f--i became comfortable working with pictures, and especially, with photographers. photographers are kind of like children and th--and i've known so many photographers, i feel as though i have children all over
the world. c-span: who is in this picture? >> guest: i'm afraid it's me. that's wh--that's the kind of thing i did as a young reporter for life magazine. and that was taken in california right after pearl harbor. and it's--it was a lighthearted story, intended to show how soldiers shoot craps. it never ran. c-span: go back to robert capa and that famous photo that we've seen--i think it was on stephen ambrose's d-day book cover. >> guest: right. c-span: where was it taken and when did he take it and how did you play a role in all this? >> guest: well, i was the london picture editor for life, and there were six life photographers assigned to cover d-day. the one we counted on the most was robert capa, who had so much experience in covering wars. he had covered the spanish war, the war in china, the war in north africa and italy. so we all looked to capa. and, indeed, he volunteered to land with the first wave on omaha beach. tuesday--it was--tuesday, june
6th, 1944, was d-day. and we waited all day tuesday for pictures. and we waited all day wednesday, but we--we--where was--where were the pictures? where was capa? finally, wednesday evening, a currier came into the--the life office with four rolls of film from capa and a handwritten note saying, 'john, that's where the action is.' so i told the darkroom to rush me contact prints for editing. we were under terrible deadline pressure. the whole world was waiting for our pictures, because we had to pool our pictures with the wire services. so a few minutes later, a young darkroom lad came rushing into my office, almost hysterical. he said, 'john, the pictures are ruined.' i said, 'what do you mean?' he said, 'well, you were in such a damn rush, i put them in the drying cabinet and the heat got them. there was--i closed the
doors'--which wasn't normal--'and there was too much heat and the emulsion ran.' so i went back to the darkroom with him and looked at the pictures, one at a--the rolls one at a time, and there was just absolutely nothing on the first three rolls, but on the fourth roll, there were 11 discernable images, and that's one of them. c-span: how did that picture become so famous? >> guest: well, it was--it was the lead picture in--lead story in life magazine. the picture was--that picture was wired throughout the world by ap, up... c-span: it looks like it's out of focus. >> guest: it--it does. life published a caption under it saying it was slightly out of focus because of the photographer's excitement, or something like that. actually, the--the light level was so low that there was just no depth of field. i mean, he had to shoot very--very slow, and, of course, it--i don't think it had anything to do with the darkroom accident, it looks that way. c-span: where are the other--what'd you say 11 pictures were salvaged? >> guest: i--yeah, i think--my recollection is that i printed
11 that night. we had to print everything four times to go through censorship. i think there are nine images that survive now in the archives. the other two probably were inconsequential. c-span: who is this a photograph of? >> guest: that is capa himself at the racetrack in paris, and it's a picture by his friend and my colleague, also, henry cartier-bresson, a very famous french photographer. and when i landed in paris after joining magnum in 1953, the first thing bob did was to take me to--to to the racetrack, to place some bets. and as it turned out, i won and he lost that day. c-span: what was he all about and how important was he to the--somebody like you that knows all these photographers? >> guest: well, i became kind of a member of his family. i met him first in 1939 during a--a lull in his war coverage. he was in new york and he came to see the--the editors at life
and i was a young reporter on the life staff and he had a kind of a sly look to him. i mean, he was--we were so--we were roughly the same age. bob was about three years older but such different people but, you know, me from the south side of chicago and bob from--from pest--budapest. and--but we all--we hit it off. i remember taking him skating on the rockefeller center rink, where we used to go at lunch hour. and the first thing he'd did, 'cause he couldn't really skate, was to grab onto the arm of the prettiest girl on the rink and--and it was fine except he--they took a spectacular spill right in front of the executive lunch windows where the--where some of time inc.'s executives were--were lunching. i couldn't help but notice it. and they got a big kick out of it. anyway, bob was a lot of fun. he--he--he was charming, women fell for him.
he had a long affair with ingrid bergman a--just after the war. that one ended rather sadly. you'll--you'll--she writes about it in her memoirs. but... c-span: and speaking of that, where's this picture from then? >> guest: well, that's a picture of ingrid bergman taken by another magnum photographer named david seymour, whom we nicknamed chim because his polish name was totally unpronounceable. i can't even do it. but ingrid was living in rome. that's her--one of the twins she had by rossellini and chim became a--a fr--a friend of hers and, tragically, he died a short time after that picture was taken. because he was killed at--the day after the suez war ended in 1956. c-span: there's a photograph in here--it was taken by a man who was 18 years old at the time. a--anybody who lives in this town knows--knows him... >> guest: right. c-span:...dirck halstead. >> guest: dirck. c-span: what is this? what are these two photos?
>> guest: well, that was one of the saddest days of my life. i told you i was bob capa's editor on d-day, but that was june 6th, 1944. but 10 years later, may 25th, 1954, bob accepted an assignment for life magazine to cover the french war in indochina. i didn't want him to go. i had to offer it to him. i was the executive editor of magnum and made the--such arrangements. i telephoned to him in tokyo and said, you know, 'y--don't go. it's not our war.' but he said, 'don't worry. i'll be back soon.' but on may 25th tw--two weeks later, he stepped on a land mine and died instantly. so when his film came in, i had his very last frame printed with the sprocket holes and everything with a black border around it. and a--as a kind of testament to this really tremendous
photographer. one of the--he's one of the truly greats of the 20th century. c-span: and who's dirck halstead who took those pictures? >> guest: and i also had to help the family make funeral arrangements. we had a memorial service and the quaker meeting in--in amawalk, new yo--in purchase, new york, and then buried him in a sm--little quaker cemetery. and as we were putting him in the ground, a young photographer came up and one of the family members said to me, 'john, this is a private moment.' and i said, 'ok. but it's--look whos--look whom we're burying.' the photographer was dirck halstead, who now lives in--lives here in washington and works for time magazine. c-span: on the back of your book you have this photograph. why did this make it to the back cover? >> guest: well, that's a photograph by w. eugene smith, whose nickname in the war was wonderful smith.
he was famous in the--in the pacific for his war coverage. he finally was wounded on okinawa. he'd been a colleague of mine at life magazine from 1939 on and he joined magnum after quitting life in 1955. and when the andrea doria sank i persuaded gene to come into new york and work through the night with me. he would only do it if i stayed with him because he was afraid he'd--he'd fall asleep. and as we waited on the docks for the survivors of the--of this sunken ship to come to land, gene noticed this nun holding a teddy bear hoping that it would--it would welcome a child. and it's a curious picture. it's--it's a so--it's sort of an odd way to report that story, but it's a picture that--that
has lived in--in photo history. c-span: why is it unusual? >> guest: well, what do you think of when you think of a ship wreck? you think of people waving from--the survivors glad to be alive. this woman isn't a survivor, she's just greeting. she's there but the--the anxiety in her face--the beauty of the face is what tr--gives it its quality. i'll never forget. we stood on the pier with other news photographers and i was really ashamed of the--of the press on that occasion because these--these survivors from the andrea doria were landing on the ill--they came back on the ile de france. and as they--as the ship drew up to the pier, the news photographer said, 'hey, wave. wave,' you know, which i thought was terrible because these people felt--i mean, they were glad to be alive, of course, but it was such a synthetic way to report the occasion. c-span: you say in the back that 13 of the photographers--and you write about 53 photographers, if
i remember the number right, in your book--are now dead. >> guest: right. c-span: and that's--they've died since you started writing this book in 1989. >> guest: yeah. sadly, my generation of life magazine is just disappearing so fast. i went yesterday in new york to a luncheon of the time-life alumni society, and there wasn't a single life photographer there from my--my era. not one. c-span: why did you write the book and how did you go about putting it together? >> guest: well, i'd been a journalist all my life, a picture editor all my life, but i've worked on daily deadlines, weekly deadlines, monthly deadlines. but a book is kind of the toughest of all. i didn't realize how hard it would be. i just felt i had to do it to kind of sort out my life. and it took me eight years; a long time. it was three years since random house accepted it. c-span: what was the toughest part about doing this? >> guest: cutting it. i--i had more to say and there's always, you know--but books have
to be cut to--anything has to be edited. i respect that and i--and i had a good relationship with my editor. but that was the toughest part, what to leave out. c-span: who's this man? >> guest: george rodger, a british member of magnum, one of the founders of magnum. magnum was a--a--it was formed to avoid the--it was formed so that photographers could control their own destinies and it... c-span: what year? >> guest: it was formed in 1947 and i was magnum's first and best american customer as picture editor of ladies' home journal, until bob capa came to new york at christmas '52 and persuaded me to join magnum. it meant taking a salary cut but he--he was a good salesman and i agreed. roger had been a--one of the founders. the others were cartier-bresson, capa himself and david seymour, whom i mentioned.
and then we were joined by some very talented photographers from other countries--werner bischoff from switzerland, ernst haas from vienna and, of course, we--there was an american group. the one--the notable one whom i was somewhat responsible for bringing in was a young guy named elliot erwitt. c-span: and magnum is still a business? >> guest: my--it's incredible that magnum still survives. some of--many of magnum's best customers like life magazine, the weekly, have--have perished. but magnum goes on. c-span: let me read a quote from--is it verner bischoff? >> guest: werner. c-span: werner bischoff? "what is important to me is that they, magnum"--and he was a part of this? >> guest: yes. c-span:.."are all sound people and socialist inspired." what did he mean? >> guest: well, werner himself was--was to the left, perhaps. none of them were--were party-line people at all.
but capa, cartier-bresson and chim came out of prewar--pre--prewar paris when there was a great struggle between left and right. the popular front was on the left and--and there was a somewhat strong french fascist party, which we tend to forget, on the right. and so the sympathies of capa and cartier-bresson and chim were certainly on the left at that time. and werner, who was swiss, and not involved in the politics of france, was nevertheless a person of the left. but as i say, none were doctrinaire. c-span: who's this? >> guest: well, that's me. it's hard for a journalist who has strong convictions about politics to suppress those convictions because if you're an editor of the washington post or an editor of the wash--of the new york times, you should be impartial. but i'm also a citizen of the
united states. even though i live in paris, i'm very active in politics and i got pretty upset when the--when george bush's administration began assembling troops in saudi arabia and i saw war coming. and with a bunch of friends there, we started a movement called americans for peace and we joined in the french demonstrations. there were as many as 100,000 frenchmen on the streets of paris. it was scarcely reported here. and that picture you're--you're showing me was never seen in the united states. it was made by a wire service photographer and it got back as far as new york, but to my knowledge it was never published in the states. and our whole peace mo--movement was unrecorded here. c-span: you say that you were a conscientious objector. >> guest: yeah. i had been a--i was strongly influenced by pacifists--by the pacifist movement of--before
world war ii. and i was not a--at that time, a member of a--of a pacifist sect at all. i--after the war, i joined the quakers but in 1937, way back in college, i had led a student demonstration against war and fascism. and i--i--the reason i was the leader was that the left couldn't agree among themselves who should lead and i was chosen because i was on speaking terms with--with the other leaders. i was--i was on the daily maroon, the news--the student paper and, in effect, i guess, i was a good front man for them. c-span: university of chicago--you give some tribute in here to robert hutchins. who was he? >> guest: right. robert m. hutchins was the boy wonder, as he was called, when he became president of the university of chicago at the age of 30. he had be--been the dean of the yale law school at 26, believe it or not.
and i--i adored him. i mean, i got to know him personally. i saw him even in his later life after i left school and i studied with him, i interviewed him for the--the student publications. he was just a great guy. and he recommended me to henry r. luce, that's--of time and the publisher of time and life, where i got a job in 1938 as an office boy for $20 a week. c-span: how long did you work for time and life? >> guest: through--from '38 until '46. all through the war, and in six--in the six cities that i mentioned before. c-span: and what is this picture? >> guest: well, that's an exclusive. it's--it appears only in this book and in my archives at the university of chicago. it's ernest hemingway on the left and on the right is elaine fischer, known as pinky, who was robert capa's english girlfriend
in the spring of 1944. and capa had decided to have a big party for hemingway in london. this was about a month before d-day. and it lasted until the--the liquor ran out about 4 am. hemingway landed in the hospital because the--he was offered a ride home by a doctor who immediately drove into a water tank. hemingway went through the windshield and into the hospital. and two days later, capa and pinky went to see him. so capa made this picture for life magazine, which was published as a full page but i kept the other one for myself. c-span: did you know this man? >> guest: yes. i met him--that was the night i met him actually. we also saw each other at mont-saint-michel during the war because after d-day, six weeks later, i went off to--to normandy myself. i just couldn't stand the idea of assigning photographers at their own peril day after day to cover combat and i wanted to learn something about it. i had no real business going to
normandy, but i--i just--i did f--and i stayed there four weeks and worked with different photographers. one day capa said to me--and we--we were at 1st army press camp with some very celebrated correspondents. ernie pyle was a tent mate. and one day capa said, 'let's go mont-saint-michel. we can stay there and cover the front from there.' so we--we did and hemingway was already there actually with bill walton of time. c-span: what was this picture right here? >> guest: well, that young man is a one of a group of--who had shot at me about an hour before that. it's interesting to be shot at personally, especially if--if--if you--if the shot misses. and i had been with capa that day at an observation post at st.-malo, where a german garrison was holding out. and i got a little too curious
and went to see where the fire was coming from and a soldier took me--said, 'i'll show you.' and he bro--walked inland a block, ran across the street corner and dropped behind the stone wall. he motioned me to follow him, which i did, and a sh--as i ran across, there was a shot. he said, 'that's funny. that never happened before.' and i said, 'well, yeah, it's pretty funny.' and he said, 'when you--when we go back, you'll have to run for it.' and i said, 'you don't really have to tell me.' so he--he went and i went. again, there was another shot. and it was only an hour or so later that they brought in this group of prisoners and when i looked at this--when i made that photo myself, i--i thought, 'oh, you poor kid.' i--it was hard to feel anything more than that. c-span: you have a couple of pages of pictures that--that--i mean, so--some of them--even when you see them up close,
you're not sure what they are. this is a gas chamber right here. what--what is this display from? >> guest: well, i put that in the book b--that's the first picture spread on events of world war ii, which we know call the holocaust. the holocaust was suppressed as a news story. it was well-known that--to allied authorities on the highest level that things like this were going on in germany and in the occupied territories. and--but... c-span: these are shoes right here? >> guest: those are shoes. this was at the--taken by russian--probably a russian soldier at the liberation of the polish camp called maidanek. maidanek i guess it's called. and that was published in the illustrated london news in october 1944, nine months before the war ended. life published a similar page about that time way--way in the back of the magazine called--opposite a campbell soup ad. the new york times has done a mea culpa on this. abe rosenthal wrote a sort of an ex--well, a mea culpa is the best expression for it.
a statement s--for the new york times centennial exhibition at the new york public library in which he talked about the--the fact that the times itself had suppressed the news of the holocaust, played it way inside, played it way down. so i just felt it worth recalling that because if the public had been--had gotten excited about that through press coverage, maybe some lives would have been saved. c-span: how many jobs in your life were you fired from? >> guest: well, i quit life and when they sent me a check for severance pay, i thought--i--i--i got indignant and i walked into my boss wilson hicks and said, 'what's this all about? i wasn't fired. i quit.' and he just laughed and--but he
persuaded me to accept it. i--in 1961, magnum and i got kind of tired of each other and i guess you could say i was fired but it was a mutual thing and i've continued working with magnum as a freelance person. and i started my own business with them and so on. i was really fired by the washington post. that's a curious story that you'll--that you'll find in there, but i continue to be friends with katharine graham and ben bradlee. i've talked with them about the--about that matter several times. and they, indeed, recommended me--i mean, the post recommended me when i was considered for the sam--a similar job at the new york times, which i got. c-span: why did they fire you? >> guest: well, it was an offshoot of katharine's decision to bring ben bradlee over from newsweek to the managing--to the editorship of the post. and that had a secondary effect, which i don't think katharine ex--expected. the number-two person at--at the post under al friendly, the managing editor, was a guy named ben--ben gilbert and he really
got upset because he had expected to--to move--ad--advance himself and he c--when bradlee was put over there, he saw that he--his career was gonna quickly terminate, which it did, in a couple of years. so gilbert was the man i had worked with mostly as picture editor and he just--he was--i was the--his easiest victim and we had a confrontation one afternoon and i said, 'ben, i'm not gonna take this any longer.' he says, 'it's you or me. you're fired.' well, i couldn't believe it. and i appealed all the way to katharine graham, who saw me at her home in georgetown and very sympathetically talked with me for three-quarters of an hour and finally shook her head sadly and said, 'well, johnny, i'm afraid that we've hurt ben gilbert as much as we're gonna hurt him. i'm--i guess it's goodbye.' c-span: how long did you work for the washington post? >> guest: fourteen months c-span: what'd you do--where'd
you go right after that? >> guest: well, i went back to new york and got a job with my alma mater, time-life, but as a--as a book editor. i was assigned to do a book on adolph--a picture biography of adolph hitler, which never--was never published because i was offered a job at the new york times. c-span: who took this picture? >> guest: gene smith took that picture in haiti. it's a madman at a--at a real snake pit on the outskirts of port-au-prince, which i had coincidentally seen as a tourist. in 1953 i had gone there with my wife and met a number of interesting haitians and one offered to take me to this insane a--insane asylum. this man was trying to dramatize--call the--the world's attention to the plight of the
mentally ill in haiti. and several years later, i heard that some new york doctor--the new york pharmaceutical companies were going to build a modern mental clinic in port-au-prince and i seized on that as a story idea for magnum and ge--gene smith got the assignment from magnum to go and document the changes. and that's one of his strongest pictures from that story. c-span: what year did gene smith die? >> guest: gene died on the 15th of october in 1978. i happened to--i remember it so clearly because he had appointed me his executor and i--he died on a sunday. he--it was--in a way you could say his death was long overdue. he--he had not been well for the previous year. and when i got the word on sunday afternoon in new york, i flew to tucson and the next
morning i was at the undertaker's and saw gene's face for the last time. c-span: gene smith had mental problems himself? >> guest: he--yes, he was a disturbed man. he was a brilliant man, a passionate photographer. in a sense, you could call gene the father of the modern photo essay and he's perhaps the most--most important photo essayist of--of our s--our time. he kind--he did kind of fall apart in the '50s but he had a great comeback in japan with an essay that he did with his second wife, eileen smith, on minamata and the--the victims of chemical pollution at minamata, which is a city in the south of japan. c-span: and there's a photo in your book from there. >> guest: there's a photo in the book. it's a picture of a child, whose name is tomoko, being bathed in her mother's arms and it's a beautiful picture. whenever gene showed it and talked about it, on the screen,
he would--he would tend to be--become very tearful indeed. and there's a picture in the book that shows gene lecturing about that at jackson hole, wyoming. c-span: that picture's on the screen, and there's the picture you were talking about that's in the book that he took. >> guest: right. c-span: what year was this? >> guest: that would have been about 1972, somewhere--somewhere in there. i'm not sure exactly. i was picture editor at the new york times then, as i recall. c-span: you talk about the three marriages you've had. >> guest: right. c-span: when was the first? >> guest: well, i fell in love with my--my--my college sweetheart. we had to wait three and a half years to get married. it's funny that you mention that, 'cause i--i--one reason i was able to do this book is, i saved a lot of stuff, and one of the things i found in my files was a telegram i sent to my fiancee in chicago the day after i reported for work as an office boy at time inc. in new york, 1938, 'cause she was still in school.
and i--my telegram said, 'start work in mail room tomorrow. saw henry luce. love.' and she was a saver also. she saved my letters that--that i wrote from london home. i had a son who was a year old before i ever saw him. there's not a great deal of my personal life in the book. it's--it was dif--i--i confined it largely to my professional life. c-span: your first wife died when? >> guest: she died many years ago. i've had two wives who died, each after about 20 years, and i'm now married for the third time to tawna hoben, and i love that picture of the two of us. tawna is a photographer herself who has done over 50 books for children. there are not many photographers who've sold over two million books. and... c-span: where was that picture taken? >> guest: that's taken in the--in the one window of my office in paris. yeah. c-span: what is it about paris
that so many--you call it the--the photo capital of the world? >> guest: yes. i--i can make a good argument for that, and that was even before princess diana died in the s--in the--in the tunnel in paris supposedly escaping from the paparazzi a year ago. unfortunately, press photographers have been blamed for her death, which is unjust because she really died because she was in the hands of a drunken driver. but the reason i call paris the capital of photojournalism is much more serious. with the death of the big picture magazines like life and look and others and--abroad, and there--there are no--no real picture magazines left in england, it's been the independent agencies who are largely headquartered in paris who cover--are responsible for covering the world.
the wire services have done a--a good job, too, but the--it's--in terms of freelance magazine photography, the work comes out of photographers who work for agencies like not only magnum but gamma, sipa, sigma, contact vous, etc. i've always fought to give photographers credit. i believe very strongly in that, and i have persuaded the international herald tribune to give photo--name credit to photographers on--in every instance. c-span: we have here, and it's hard to see, but it's the credit on one of these, and it--it struck me. i was looking through the magazines to find one. this says nick utt, ap... >> guest: right. c-span:..and he figures in your book. >> guest: yeah. c-span: who is he? and by the way, before you explain who nick--is that the way you pronounce it? utt (pronounced ut) or utt (pronounced oot). >> guest: utt (pronounced ut). c-span: utt. and you've mentioned a bunch of 'em here. i've got one. we'll show another close-up here
if we can get it. it's hard to get a shot of this, but it says 'contact' on it. >> guest: that's right. c-span: what are these different groups and--it's hard to see there, along the--when did they f--let me start ask--by--by asking this: when did they first start putting little credits on these pictures? >> guest: well, magnum had a lot to do with that, but life magazine was very good about crediting photographers. that's where i got my training. and life magazine was scrupulous about identifying the sources of pictures. that's one reason that life is such a great historical resource. and so that's really where it began. i had a big fight with the london press whe--when i was london picture editor of life during the war, 'cause we resold pictures to london papers through pictures--picture magazines through ap, and the--the london papers had refused to credit.
they--they treated photographers like dirt at the time. and so i insisted on credit, and--and as a result, one of the fleet street press newsletters--newsmagazines published an article denouncing me as an american imperialist. c-span: he--here's one that i always wondered what it stood for, and i was quite surprised when you say it in the book--you can't see it very much on the screen, though. it's s-i-p-a. what is that--what's the... >> guest: well, that's shorthand for a wonderful turkish journalist. it's--it--it's pronounced sipa, and his named is goksin--g-o-k-s-i-n--sipahahiolu and he actually has a--a show on in paris at this very moment. i just was at the opening last week. but sipa is--is short for sipahahioglu. c-span: and it's an agency that he has? >> guest: it's an agen--his own personal agency. he's a wonderful, charming guy who goes--whose fortunes go up and down like a--a roller coaster.
c-span: and who is nick utt from ap? >> guest: well, nick was a--a--an ap stringer, perhaps a staff photographer, i guess, in--in vietnam. and that picture, i wa--i happened to be picture editor at the new york times the pi--the day that picture came over the wire. the little girl was stark naked, of course, and i can--i remember how the--the news editor at the--the times was so happy that she hadn't yet begun to show, because it made it easier to--to run the picture on the front page of the times. c-span: that was the little girl being napalmed? >> guest: yes. c-span: you can't see this one again, but here--here's another little credit that says sigma. i always wanted to know, who's sigma? >> guest: well, sigma--you see, magnum began the--the--the a--the use of one-word photo agency designations, so after
magnum, there was gamma--it was founded in 19--about 1970 in--somewhat in imitation of magnum. it was also a cooperative in the beginning. and then gamma split in two and the offshoot became sigma, which became as much--as powerful or more powerful than gamma. and the one-word agency name is--is sort of a tradition now. c-span: where is this photo from? >> guest: that's a picture of the gulf war by david turnley, who's also made the cover picture. the soldier in that picture is crying because he's just discovered that the body bag on the right-hand side of the photo contains his best friend, and i've been always a very strong an anti-war person, and i--i ran that picture not only because it's a good picture, because--but because it seems to me it kind of demonstrates the--the emptiness of victory. that was--that war was considered an incredible victory
on the part of the allies, which it was, and--but there's--so many died, and the devastation continued so long afterward. c-span: what's this? >> guest: and that's a picture by sebastiao salgado, a brazilian photographer, who has been in magnum--he's now free--freelance--and it's in the aftermath of the--of the explosion--of the oil--oil well fires in kuwait. the man there is not dead, he's just knocked out. he's an oil worker who was knocked out in the process of trying to cap that well. but i ran that because it shows--it symbolizes the environmental impact of that war. we just got to find a better way to--to heal the conflicts in the world than war. c-span: how often in your lifetime has your work and your personal feelings crossed? >> guest: i guess all the time.
when you're a--when you're--you know, when you're an editor of the new york times, you have to kind of suppress your personal feelings because you--you have to try to be objective. gene smith, as a photographer, ridiculed objectivity. he said--he was a passionate man and he--he wanted--he was a crusader who wanted his pictures to bring justice to the world. c-span: this picture was taken by what photographer? >> guest: his name is jack hubbard, and he was--he's now out at stanford, but he was then on c--on cape cod--excuse me, on martha's vineyard. scotty reston called me one--from the cape--from edgartown one morning. he said, 'something curious has happened here. ted kennedy's car seems to be in the--in--have run off a bridge, and i have some pictures of it
and i'm going--i'm working on the story, but what should i do with the pictures?' i said, 'well, just get 'em--tell the photographer to wire them to us.' i was then at the new york times. c-span: this is the front page of the new york times and the famous general lon... >> guest: right. c-span:..what would you call this? >> guest: well, you could call it an e--an execution. c-span: he just died in this--i mean, he lived here. >> guest: exactly. and eddie adams, who took this picture and won a pulitzer prize for it, has--has always regretted taking it. it's curious, when--when general lon died, eddie wrote a--an--a sort of eulogy to lon. he felt that he personally, through the publication of that picture, had--had ruined lon's life. i don't feel that way. in fact, i wrote to eddie, who is an old friend of mine, and said, 'you know, get off it,
eddie. general lon's act was inexcusable. war is inexcusable, but that--that particular act was inexcusable, and you shouldn't hold your respon--yourself responsible for that.' c-span: would you have been responsible for getting that photo on the front page of the new york times when it was published? >> guest: well, i sure--i sure did my best, and it succeeded. it came in before the early afternoon, the preliminary page-one conference that day. and i don't usu--i didn't usually take pictures into that conference, but that day, i--i took it in an--because i wanted to make sure that everybody would know it was there and that it would get used. so, indeed, it was. the only argument was how big, and--and another picture came in which kind of played with it nicely. c-span: these two men? >> guest: well, clifton daniel, on the right in the picture, was the man who hired me when he was managing editor of the new york times. c-span: margaret truman's husband? >> guest: margaret truman's husband.
and i had met him once before, but he--when i--when he interviewed me, i never expected to go back to a newspaper after being fired by the washington post. and, in fact, i said to the assistant managing editor who first asked me, 'you can't be serious,' but they had--as i said, the washington post was very--in fact, katharine herself has reg--expressed regret that i ever left there. anyway, daniel asked me, 'what do you think of the way we play pictures in the new york times?' and i said, 'i think it stinks.' and he said, 'so do i,' so he hired me. the other man is abe rosenthal, who quickly succeeded daniel as managing editor and then under whom i worked for several years. c-span: what was he like? >> guest: oh, boy. he was tough. i--i have tremendous respect for rosenthal, although he finally got tired of me, too, and decided to make a change on the picture desk, which i didn't understand and never have, but--that's the great new york times building at 229 west 43rd
street. but the presses no longer roar in the basement. c-span: what do you think of the new york times? >> guest: i think the new york times is today's--is the world's greatest newspaper. c-span: why? >> guest: it--i think it--it's the most conscientious. i'm not always happy with it. i am not happy with the--the job that the--that the times did and--and most of the press did on the lewinsky matter. i think it went way out of balance and i think the public has--in the recent elections has--has demonstrated its--its judgment of that matter is far different from that of the--the initial judgment of the press. c-span: this is the front page of what new york times? and why did you put this in your book? >> guest: i put that picture in the book because i happened to be there. i was in los angeles on the day of the california primary in 1968.
c-span: that's your story with the circle around it. i--i put that circle on it. >> guest: and--well, it's my one and only page-one byline. i happened to be the only new york times man that--who heard bobby kennedy's last words, because the real reporters were--were waiting for him to come through the pantry where he was shot and killed. and so when i heard the shots, i--and the ballroom cleared out, i ch--got a phone backstage and--and got through to times rewrite in--in new york and i was given sil fox, who was an excellent rewrite man. and i--unfortunately, i didn't have enough courage to dictate the lead the way i actually wanted to say it, and--and it's not as strong a story as it should be. i wanted to say that he had just been introduced by jess unruh as, quote, "the next president of the united states," unquote, and everyone in that ballroom
believed him. c-span: you said that you tried to get jody powell at the carter white house to hire you as a picture editor for the white house. >> guest: right. that was--that was a pretty funny interview. i--i was a good friend of--of yoichi okamoto, who had been the f--the--lyndon johnson's personal photographer. and oka, as we called him, fr--tried to help me get a job in the--in the carter white house. but--and i went to see jody powell, but he said, 'oh, sure, the president is really interested in pictures. why, chip shoots pictures around here all the time.' c-span: the son. >> guest: the son. son or son--son-in-law? c-span: chip carter's the son. >> guest: chip, the son. yeah. yeah, that's right, son. but as a result, i think carter didn't come through as quite a human--as human a president
as--as he deserved. i think his image was, unfortunately, cold. c-span: can photographers--or, do photographers and picture editors put their own personal feelings--i mean, if you don't like somebody, can you begin to demonstrate through the newspapers' front pages that you don't like somebody by putting, you know, negative-looking pictures there? and do they do that? >> guest: oh, certainly, they do. again, i--i--that's what sh--separates the--the quality papers from the--the s--the sheep from the goats. i mean, the tabloids are shameless in doing that sort of thing. and pictures do, indeed, make editorial points subconsciously, but sometimes those points are the strongest. c-span: but did you ever find yourself saying, 'i--i really don't like this politician,' and you've--pictures come in--you get, you know, 100 pictures of somebody that a photographer clicked and said, 'you pick out the worst picture and put it right there on the front page'? >> guest: well, sometimes the--the person does it for you. you take that same front page
that shows the eddie adams saigon execution picture, there's a portrait--there's a one-column picture of richard nixon there looking like a fool on the other side of the page. and the reason that picture is there is that that's the day he announced for the presidency and that he would campaign for it, and--but the picture came from his campaign headquarters. it was his so-called campaign portrait. i think he looks like--i didn't--i was not a fan of nixon's, and--but i must say i was--i was pleased that--i was just as happy as not to run that rather stupid picture of him. i didn't--it was--the reason for running it, of course, was it was--it was the campaign picture. c-span: we get calls, though--on our call-in show all the time--people suggesting that newspapers are purposely running pictures to make somebody look real good or real bad. should they be suspicious? >> guest: i think so. i think--i think--but i also think picture editing has
improved, has become much more sensitive. at the time i joined the new york times in 1967, it was the custom to put the second--the custom for the second edition to simply get from the morgue pictures--one-column cuts of people who were in the news and really didn't much matter to the--to the late editors then whether the picture was--showed one expression or another. it was just--it was just a--as they called it, 'we have to cover this page.' you can't get away with that much anymore. you have to show a picture that's relevant to the day's news. c-span: i wrote down a bunch of names of people that you knew. joe liebling. >> guest: well, i knew joe in london. he was the correspondent for the new yorker. c-span: that the same a.j. liebling we used to read about? >> guest: a.j. liebling, right. c-span: what was he like? >> guest: well, he--he was interested more in food than he wa--in anything else, but he was delightful, he was amusing.
i didn't know him terribly well, but he was one of--you know there were 1,000 correspondents accredited for the invasion of europe? i mean, only a handful that you remember, but there were so many--i mean, that's one thing that's very disturbing, the--the--the--the numbers of the press have become a terrible problem. look at the mob of photographers, reporters, cameramen, sound men you see, like, outside a courtroom. i mean, how can you get good coverage in such circumstances c-span: h.v. kultenborn you knew, or kaltenborn. >> guest: no, i--i--i d--i didn't really know him. c-span: but you were around him? >> guest: around, yeah. c-span: what was he? it's an old name in this business. >> guest: he--he was radio. he and ed murrow were--were radio correspondents, as was eric sevareid, larry leseur, charlie collingwood. they were great radio people in those days. c-span: william shirer. >> guest: shirer i--i knew not so much during the war but after the war when we--a group of writers in new york were fighting mccarthy, and bill
shirer and--and john hersey and arthur miller and a number of others met together. c-span: who's this? >> guest: well, she's a great woman, leigh miller, whom i met in london when she was a vogue photographer, and sh--her photographs have now become ra--rather celebrated. she--her--thanks to her son, she's--has exhibitions through--all over the world, right now in--in new zealand. c-span: who's this on the other side? >> guest: that's leigh miller by manray, and she had such a gorgeous body that even her parts became celebrated. their--manray did a study of her lips, her breasts were--were--inspired some champagne glasses. she--she was an incredible woman. sh--to me, she was a hostess and friend, and she was having an affair with dave sherman, a life photographer, which was celebrated at the time. we all knew it. and--but she cooked thanksgiving
and christmas dinner for me in london in--in 194--43. c-span: who was manray? >> guest: well, manray was a--originally came from philadelphia, and he was an american expatriate in paris who became famous as a--a photographer and artist. i'm sorry to say i never--i never took the trouble to--to go and see him at his studio. but leigh miller worked for him and was a--a lover of manray's for a while, and she accidentally in the darkroom, by turning the lights on when she wasn't supposed to, invented a technique he called solari--they call solarization of prints. c-span: what does that mean? >> guest: it means a--kind of an overexposed print. it's--i'm not very good at explaining technical terms. c-span: this photograph is from
what photographer? >> guest: that's from a swedish photographer named leo lunbrink, who came to see me in new york. after magnum, i was syndicating pictures trying to get picture stories placed in newspapers throughout the country. and leo had gone--he'd done something exceptional in vietnam. he'd gone out with the south vietnamese intelligence forces and--interrogating prisoners, and this was the way they used to do it. it was a pretty brutal picture, and very few newspapers would publish that picture. the toronto star did. i think the herald--new york herald tribune did, but the washington post bought the story and then killed it. c-span: this is a series of three photographs, and if you look closely, you can see nelson rockefeller in the middle of all that, and there is a dog on the side. as we go down the photographs, you see the dog beginning to walk away, nelson rockefeller still there in the middle, and then finally... >> guest: right. c-span:...the dog in the final frame--why did you put these three photographs in? >> guest: well, i was to have a
meeting with pierre salinger at the white house. magnum wi--wi--photographers were doing a book on the first 100 days of the kennedy administration. simultaneously, nelson rockefeller began tooling up to campaign against kennedy for president in '64. and his public relations people advised him to go out in the streets of albany and cam--and do a little talking to voters. so elliot erwitt of magnum got the assignment to go up there and shoot this, and he noticed this little--elliot is big on dogs, and when i saw the contact sheet, i saw those three pictures and i just howled and i--i made up prints, took 'em to salinger who, indeed--he jumped up from his desk, came back five minutes later and said, 'i just gave the boss the biggest laugh he's had since we came here.' c-span: where's this? >> guest: well, that's jackie kennedy wheeling john john in the white house grounds at that same time. and down below is fidel castro
standing on--at the bay of pigs looking defiant. that picture of castro was taken after the unsuccessful bay of pigs invasion. he was triumphant, of course, and he returned to the scene with a few people from the press, and both of those are magnum pictures. c-span: when was the happiest time in your life? >> guest: oh, boy. i--the biggest news night of my life, in anybody's--the happiest news night that i can ever remember was the landing on the moon, and--because there was--it was such a t--totally positive story for the whole world. it was something that we--that--everything went right. and it--abe rosenthal had brilliantly prepared us for--to--to cover that story. c-span: this is a cover for life, and what are we looking at? >> guest: in 1954, just after bob capa was killed in
indochina, we met in paris and we had terrible problems. magnum could have easily fallen apart then. the thing that rescued us was that henri cartier of versailles, our french member, got a visa to go to russia and he came back with a series of pictures which were just extraordinary--not in a news sense, but in--in terms of the everyday life of the russians. and his--by this time, his prestige was such that i had three major magazines bidding for the story--life, look and holiday. and i sold the s--a two-part series to life for $40,000 and ed thompson, the managing editor, said, 'john, what do you see for a cover?' and i was ready for him, 'cause i knew the life logotype would fit nicely in that picture, so i said--proposed that, and he said fine. c-span: there's a picture in here of nikita khrushchev. y--well, we're looking at his
back. >> guest: right. c-span: and in front of him is the lincoln memorial. who took that one? >> guest: right. that's by bert glenn of magnum, and i think it's a hell of picture. it--covering the--the khrushchev visit to america was--was--it was a madhouse. i mean, that was the first example i can think of of really total saturation of the press. there were so many photographers in the iowa cornfield that khrushchev visited, for example, you couldn't har--you could hardly see khrushchev. but in any event, it was a picture by bert glenn, who's alive and well and living in new york. c-span: are you gonna live out your life in paris? >> guest: i hope so. c-span: you still an american citizen? >> guest: oh, sure. i'm very active in--in politics. i'm... c-span: what are you doing? >> guest: well, i was a delegate to one of the two political conventions in--the last time. c-span: let me guess, it wasn't the republican convention. >> guest: it was not the republican. c-span: and a delegate from where? >> guest: from france. democrats overseas are well organized. we have--democrats abroad has chapters in many countries, and france is one of the largest and
most active. c-span: we're out of time. our guest has been john g. morris. here's what the book looks like, the picture there on the cover by robert turnley? >> guest: no, david turnley. c-span: david turnley. those are twin brothers. >> guest: right. c-span: and the title of the book is called "get the picture." thank you very much for joining us. >> guest: thank you. >> we had a lot of discussions about the vetting and i wasn't happy with the product. in the movie obviously you have a process that is 10 weeks long bet is build down into 10 hours
so out of necessity, some of the timelines are rearranged, but it's the true story of what happened. on the question of the vetting, we got to the end of the process and senator may cain had determined who he wanted to pick. we had the realization that we can't win with any of the candidates as was displayed in the movie, pawlenty and romney. we were going to be outspent by $200 million. president bush, his approval rating was in the 30s. barack obama was speaking to crowds of hundreds of thousands in europe. there was a fervor for his candidacy on the part of the press and trying to figure out how to win. i am the person is said we should take a look at sarah palin. you know, from alaska.
you know, that moment slows down in my brain. [laughter] we spent a couple of days at the jersey shore and i remember everything, i remember every aspect of the moment. i could smell the smell of long beach island, the salt air, you know, the cars in front of the house. i would pick up the phone and i called rick davis and they said we should take a look at sarah palin. the vetting that was done, i said to rick that it's very important and rick was in charge of the vetting process campaign, that she be fully and completely vetted like all the other candidates, and can we do with 10 lawyers or 20 lawyers and a couple of days what we have done with three lawyers over a couple of weeks were all the other