tv Charlie Rose PBS July 11, 2017 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT
>> rose: welcome to the program, we begin tonight with iraq and the taking of mosul from isis by iraqi forces we turn first to nick paton walsh, cnn correspondent. >> barely a street escaped unscathed, certainly the old city you drive through streets that have been cleared by bull dozenners remarkably quickly by the iraqi army but they are lined with cars that have been torn up like paper, flipped, pancaked by the sheer def skate-- devastating force of the repeat explosions that have gone on that drive isis out. it is hard to imagine anything like it, it is like a supernatural po ker-- power. >> rose: and we continue with anthony cordesman from the strategic of international studies and david ignatius of "the washington post." >> i don't know of anyone who believes that we are able to put an end to islamic extremism or
violence in iraq. we still have the problem of at least three towns under isis occupation. we have no idea whether they will be stay-behinds. we have the problem of syria and we also have a country where there are many other islamist elements, divisions between sunni and shiite, kurd and arab, there is something where it's an important tactical victory but it doesn't bring stability to iraq. it doesn't eliminate the threat. isis only was responsible for about 11% of the acts of terrorism in this region in 2016. and that's all of its affiliates. and that sort of puts isis into perspective. >> rose: we conclude with author and new york times
obituary require richard sandomir, he talked to jeff glor about his new book, the pride of the yankees, lou gehrig, gary cooper and the making of a classic. >> i think i became fascinated about a dozen years ago with the gehrig speech and then i started wondering, why can't i see the whole thing. and then i started getting a little more obsessed with the movie and the speech there and the speech leads to the full movie and the interest in the movie lead me to the archives in beverly hills with everything is laid out, the scripts, the letters, the contracts, everything is there, it is just there for me to pluck out and tell the story. >> rose: war in iraq and richard sandomir when we continue. >> funding for charlie rose is provided by the following: bank of america, life better connected.
>> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> after nearly a nine month battle of u.s. backed iraqi forces have retaken the iraqi city of mosul from isis it is a decisive victory in the larger campaign against the islamic state but the liberation comes with a heavy price. the united nation warns a ballooning humanitarian crisis in the badly damaged city. u.s. and iraqi officials say that while the loss of mosul is a significant blow to isis, it is far from a total defeat. in a statement released yesterday, senator john mccain said it is better to think of today as the end of the beginning rather than the beginning of the end. joining me now from irbil is nick paton walsh, senior
information correspondent for cnn and i'm pleased to have him on this program. nick, describe what the scene is like today. >> the level in the old city of mosul which marks basically the back end of isis territory in that city. once the second largest place they could call their own territory in terms of population in that country, down at river level today, still intense clashes, a small pocket of isis fighters dug heavily into what is now rubble. it is almost like the land surface of the moon, the old city of mosul, absolutely destroyed inch by inch by that fighting. but the bombardments often supplied by american coalition forces and air strike definitely caused some of the fighters to surrender. we saw them walking out toward iraqi special forces, intense fighting. it was apparently still going on, frankly when iraqi prime urs of making everybody wait8 finally tbaif his declaration of victory in mosul but still,
those smaller pockets not distracting people from the broader fact here that there is perhaps a chapter in iraq's history that is quietly being closed. yes there are pockets of isis around the country that still have to be confronted but they can no longer claim a major population like mosul as being a place that they can actively contest, charlie. >> rose: tell me what it has done to mosul? >> well, nearly, i think it is fair to say barely a street has escaped unscathed. certainly the old city, you drive through streets that have been cleared by bull dozenners, remarkably quickly by the iraqi army but they are lined with cars that have been torn up like paper, flipped, pancaked by the sheer devastating forces that have gone along that drive to drive ices out it is hard to imagine anything like it, like a supernatural power swept in and caused devastation. and you move to the other parts of mosul, buildings are pancaked. there as been intense coalition firepower used to push isis back
into that old city area over the past eight months of grueling offense. there is a huge reconstruction job ahead but some elements of hope because you do already see even a couple of miles or less away from where the fighting was, people out in the streets, at a shop selling kebabs, people selling paint, traffic clogging the streets again. people desperate perhaps to get back to normality after nearly a year's worth of fighting around mosul, but also then the broader question of how do they rebuild deep in everybody's hearts, charlie. >> rose: and how were they able to do it. the iraqis had help from e sheer ten asity of willjust here. we're talking about the fighting which civilians were initially encoveraged to stay in their homes so they didn't see a massive refugee exodus. that slowed the initial part of the offensives in the east because they were scared about getting civilians killed as they advanced. then we saw iraqi special forgses quite high casualty
rates. that slowed things too. and now around towards the east i think the success has basically been a lot of coalition coordination is fair to say from some of the meetings i've seen helping the iraqi shape their offensive it has been an iraqi proswrect from beginning to end but in the final stages they have been able to get the federal police in play, the iraqi army and then the iraqi u.s. trained special forces plowing you through the middle that seems to be where so much of the success has come from, coalition and artillery taking out those elements of isis that have dug dug in, and giving that extra edge of accuracy in firepower to iraqi special forces which are often kawsessing the chaos of the rubble that is sadly mosul now. >> rose: how long will it take them to eliminate the last remaining pockets of resistance. >> could be a matter of hours, it could be happening as we speak or stretch into today. we don't know you had many are stuck in those last elements of rubble. they are well dug in, and
desperate because their future in the hands of iraqi police isn't bright at all. many stories of execution reported by human-rights groups an also too they are stuck in the remainder of what they viewed as their broader project for an idealogical caliphate it is unlikely they will give up easily, it appears some groups have run out of ammunition or the will to fight back. this could be lengthy possibly but what we saw today was even a hundred yards, dozens of houses, possibly, some of them already reduced to rubble in which these people were dug in. they may have civilians, they are still using as human shields, we simply don't know but it is now down to an incredibly small area, almost to the point of cleanup operation to some degree. i think when abadi announced victory here he was talking in the broader sense. the truth we are still seeing pockets of resistance that are hard to shake, charlie. >> rose: and we are just beginning to hear, i assume, all of the stories of slaughter and
torture and destruction of families. >> yes. and bear in mind, that while these individual stories will take years for people to heal around and we're sort of seeing how life under isis tbaif many so much absolute horror and terror and of course this war that has plowed through the city has brought its own gastly stories of human suffering. there is still the broader question of iraq having to show heal in sectarian divide. remember this has come about, this crisis with isis has come about because of the sunni minority, the ethnic group feeling disenfranchised, they run the country under saddam hussein but he falls and the shia majority takes over, so much government and military. they are on two separate sides so much of the front line, these two ethnic groups during the fight against isis. and the suspicion of each other probably has never been higher but they have to magically now show heal that, bridge that
divide to get reconstruction and social healing on track to some degree. that is the biggest task, frankly here, because the fight against isis has done nothing but increase the sectarian hatred in this country and i think the fear possibly now is that the speed of reconstruction and growth of trust has to occur at a rate that has not really been see before in the past 15 years of turmoil sie sadm hussein fell here in and the internal conflict really picked up. that is a steep task indeed. not steeper than the blood shed and horror frankly of kicking isis out militarily but one possibly more vital if we are not to see in the future some sort of reincarnation of isis. remember they were a reincarnation you might argue of al-qaeda in iraq. what next really depends on how fast society can heal. >> rose: i know it is very late there, thank you so much for staying up for us. >> thanks, charlie. >> rose: back in a moment. stay with us. >> rose: we continue our conversation on the retaking of
mosul and the battle against isis, joining me from washington david ignatius, foreign affairs columnist for "the washington post" and anthony cordesman, the early a burk chair in strategy at the center for strategic and international studies. i'm pleased to have both of them on this program. now let me begin with you and quote john mccain who said this is the end of the beginning, rather than the beginning of the end. is he right? >> i think he's absolutely right. i don't know of anyone who believes that we are able to put an end to islamic extremism or violence in iraq. we still have the problem of at least three towns under isis occupation. we have no idea of whether they will be stay behinds. we have the problem of syria and we also have a country where there are many other islamist
elements, divisions between sunni and shiite, kurd and arab, this is something where it is an important tack kal victory but it-- tactical victory but it doesn't bring stability to iraq. it doesn't eliminate the threat. isis only was responsible for about 11% of the acts of terrorism in this region in 2016. and that's all of its affiliates. and that sort of puts isis into perspective. >> rose: marwin saqid a mosul resident told "the new york times" there's no such thing as the phrase after isis. isis is a mentality and the mentality will not end with guns alone. >> i think that's absolutely correct in every dimension. you have a country with massive unemployment, critical problems
in its industries and agricultural sector. it is rated as one of the most corrupt governments in the world. and one with the hayes levels of popular resentment. and you can go on and on. you have the problem of creating stability and security and moving forward in development, and defeating isis alone in one city, important as it is, doesn't shape the future. >> rose: david, could this victory have been, however you measure it, could it have been a cheeferred much earlier with different policies? >> well, if you go back to the beginning of the story, really wanting the movie back, yes, i think if the u.s. has been able to maintain a presence in iraq, the rise of isis would have been retarded, maybe prevented all together. there is a chain of mistakes that lead us to the isis breakout in 2014, taking mosul
while i agree with tony that w are far from the end of this ory, the so many question marks that surround the political future in both iraq and syria, i also think it would be a mistake not to see the victory in mosul and kor responding successes in syria, as important. what has struck me is that an iraqi military that had proved really incapable of holding, clearing territory just has become a more efficient fighting force. the iraqi counterterrorism service has taken significant casualties, so have other elements of the iraqi internal security forces in just the
elite counterterrorism. >>-- in my last two visit to the front around mosul i thought they were headed to a real crackup. that didn't happen, same thing in syria, our local partners have fought better and with less ethnic friks than we fearing a this campaign began. so no, it's not the end, it's not perfect. terrible problems ahead. i think we should note the elements of success that are there. >> can those elements as you started to mention, syria, are they in place so that they can take raqqa soon? >> charlie, i just, two weeks ago was to the west of raqqa in a city called topqa which has been cleared by our syrian-kurdish led allies. those forces have now entered raqqa city. the assessment of u.s. commanders on the scene in syria is that this battle is going better and quicker than they had thought. i think they imagined that this
would take certainly to the end of this year to complete the clearing raqqa, big city, had 300,000 people before the war. they're thinking it may go a good deal quicker as every syrian who can get out is trying to, there are foreign fighters who won't leave, won't be able to. there are big fights ahead along the lower u freightees which i think are going to be stuff battles. and huge political queions but raqqa is going pretty quickly from what t i am told. >> re: he we found out any more about the russian suggestion that they had killed al baghdadi. >> i asked u.s. commanders and they say they have absolutely no confirmation. they obviously tried hard to track us down, they have no electronic emission that would tell them one way or the other whether he is dead or alive. all that they can say is this if he is still commanding isis forces, it is invisible to the
u.s >> tony, back to the question of the region and the u.s. role, what do you see for the future? >> i think some things are clear. no one believes we can halt the air campaign until we finish at least-- of all the towns and cities. and david pointed out this is strl an action under way. we are talking after all, literally, thousands and thousands of u.s. and allied sortee, it isn't that the iraqi forces improved that much but they had an absolute monopoly on air power. we radically changed our support and training efforts until we put fire support units, multiple rocket launchers, other weapons forward. we put special forces into iraqi
combat units to stiffen them and give them the leadership and experience they needed. and if you look at this year's defense budget, there is a very substantial amount of money programmed to help iraq and then the kurds and other elements in syria in the future. what isn't clear yet is whether we're going to help iraq and syria actually recover, create the kind of political, economic, social structure, patterns of governance that can bring lasting stability. this is something that's being studied but talking to some senior officiatheir reaction has been well, we'r talking a lot. but we don't have clear plans yet. and there does seem to be a deep division as to how much aid we're going to provide, and whether we're going to be involved in anything approaching
what's come to be called nation building. >> rose: okay. interesting david. i heard you say on television that part of the success, part of the success in terms of the use of american military whether it's on the ground or whether it's air strikes, has to do with the president's decision to move authority not only to the secretary of defense, general mattis but also to commanders in the field. explain that to us. >> well, i can give you a very specific example of the way in which the trump administration's delegation of military authority downward has had good effect. in the spring of this year kurdish commanders in syria who were leading the so called syrian democratic forces believed that they could surprise isis from the south in
this city called topqa to the west of raqqa. if they could get across lake assad topqa has a huge hydroelectric dam, a strategic gateway to raqqa. but they needed to get across this large expanse of water. they had 500 fighters who had probably never seen an aircraft let alone flown in one. and within three days from the proposal from the syrian kurdish commander, let's do this, to the actual commencement of the operation, it took place. i'm told there was not a single white house meeting to discuss it. it was del gated to general townsend who is our commander in baghdad, who organized this. who got the people on the osprey helicopters, got the zodiac
boats to take heavy equipment across the lake and bam they ended up there on the ground. they fought their way into topqa, it was a bloody battle. they had i'm told over a hundred killed, 300 bonded, that is a lot of people to get killed. they took out the isis force that had been entrenched there for almost three years. the obama administration, i can't imagine there not being an extensive interagency process, white house meetings, sit room discussions back and forth. that is the way the obama administration did things. in this case it just went right to the commanders and it happened quickly and this is a significant tactical success in the raqqa campaign. >> rose: so what is going to change because of whatever the president and the president of russia agreed on with respect to syria? >> tony you're smiling, i think. >> i don't think they knew. we've heard about deescalation zones. it's not quite clear what that
means. there's a serious question as to the extent to which iran and the assad forces are trying to establish some kind of corridor that would connect with the shiite elements in iraq and then on to iran. and part of that corridor potentially would go through the deescalation zone. it says nothing about governance in syria. nothing about stability, what happens to the people. it is one of these areas of rhetoric where at the end of it you know almost less hearing the words than you did before the announcement. >> rose: david? >> well, i agree with tony. there's a lot of uncertainty about what this-- what this means. i think the watchword for this whole campaign, i think, is the u.s. has decided the limits of what it can do, its leverage, its ability to shape the future so there is a kind of ad hoc
improvised quality. that is the case with the u.s. russian cooperation. three weeks ago when the syrian fighter jet was shot down, there were some initial minutes, couple hours of real uncertainty about whether this would escalate in a very dangerous way. the u.s. and russian commanders threw their decon flix arrangements were able to keep talking through that day and then over the following week roughly established a decon flix arc south of raqqa, literally kilometer by kilometer, this point, this point, this point. and established the areas in which the two forces and their allies would operate. >> rose: there's also north korea, tony. and everybody says the same thing these days, you know, there is obviously no booed solution, there is no easy solution.
and there may be no military solution. when they say that, and they say it for the obvious reason that the north koreans could rain down on south korea and perhaps on japan as well and create all kinds of problems for the united states and we don't know how, our response and north koreans maybe at some point irrational. is there a veution to this other than negotiations. >> i don't think anybody can predict, when you get into a contest in escalation which side will stop sooner and make concessions. >> rose: yeah. >> but i think people exaggerate north korean cap abilities-- capability, not so much that there isn't a really serious threat to seoul and a serious threat 20 the region, there is. but this is an incredibly poor country. people really don't pay attention to the economy, to its vulnerabilities, to the limits that make it so vulnerable to any kind of precision strike or
attack. and certainly striking at a nuclear reactor, you can't talk about that without it immediately sending a warning signal. but things like the missile centers, missile production facilities, could you risk a precision strike, could you set deadlines or red lines. the question really is going to be how much resolve do you have and how many risks you will take. it isn't that there aren't military options. there's just no way to know which side will stop escalating and how much damage will be done once you start. >> rose: who was it that said the other guy just blinked. was that dean rusd? >> the problem is what happens if you blink. >> rose: david, north korea? >> i think the problem with the precision strike, this surgical
decap taition at least of nuclear program is that it is impossible to be confident that south korea, the city of seoul wouldn't pay a terrible price. the last time the u.s. looked seriously at this, back in the clinton administration, defense secretary bill perry after initially thinking that this kind of surgical strike was warranted, and back then the program would have been much easier to take out, decided that it was just too risky. that there were too many civilian lives would be lost. the estimates of what the loss of life could be range up in the hundreds of thousands. >> rose: i read 200,000. well, thank you both so much for joining me this evening. >> a pleasure. >> thanks, charlie. >> rose: thank you, david, thank you, tony. >> on july 4th, 1939 lou
gehrig-- gehrig delivered one of the most memorable and moving speeches in american history. the yankee ledge endeclared himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth despite having recently been diagnosed with als, a disease which would take his life two years later, richard sandomir writes about the iron horse and the movie that would shape his legacy as one of the most recognizable figures, his latest book, the pride of the yankees, lou gehrig, gary cooper and the making of a classic. i'm pleased to welcome you to the table. >> good to be here. >> glor: the book moves and it is a nice examination of how this all came together, and what is interesting here is that lou gehrig made this speech, some people knew about it, they didn't really know about the speech until the movie came out. >> well, i think people were struck by two things. that he would declare himself the luckiest man on the face of earth and minimize what he had by just saying i have a bad break. so there were 62,000 people watching the speech.
but it was-- people were not-- did not know exactly what was wrong with lou. als was a mystery. and you didn't know how long he had to live. whether he would come back to play. >> glor: the movie really crystallized it. it brought that speech, his attitude toward his disease to the mass audience. >> in the year since we've lost most of what the news real had. so we only have just a few lines left from the news real where people would have seen it in the movie theaters. the movie version with cooper delivering it, delivering an in tact speech is the only in tact speech we have. and that is how people really know the speech. >> glor: and how much different was the speech that cooper clferred in the movie from the actual speech that lou gehrig delivered. >> the luckiest man moves from the second line in the gehrig speech to the last line for dramatic emphasis in the movie. the movie vrgs is shorter, it thanks fewer people but has the same attitude. >> glor: you, did you start thinking about this, this book
because of, because of the movie or because of lou gehrig or a combination of both. >> i think i became fascinated about a dozen years ago with the gehrig speech and then i started wondering why can't i see the whole thing. and then i started getting a little more obsessed with the movie and the speech there and the speech leads the full movie. the interest in the movie lead me to the samuel goldwinn archives in dleferly hills where severing laid out, the scripts, letters, contracts, everything was there. just there for me to pluck out and tell the story. >> glor: let's talk about samuel goldwyn's involvement. the book starts with a description of gehrig's life-and-death. and then but then quickly hollywood pounces. they see the story. how quickly did all of that come together? >> well look, he died in early june of 41. a deal was made between eleanor gehrig, his wife and samuel goldwyn by early july. so four or five weeks and by july 15th they had an
announcement and the movie was made and released by the next july. >> glor: a deal brokered by? >> a deal brokered by christie walsh, one of the first agents in sports. he represented ruth, he represented gehrig, he represented eleanor to the movie studios. the studios were not overwhelmed by the idea of doing a gehrig film. david ozel nick was interest-- was interested gold win sat down in his screening room at the we hest of his story writer and said watch this news real am he watched the news real. he stayed through the entire thing until gehrig delivered his speech. lights go up, samuel goldwyn is crying. he said play it again. lights go up, he ordered his number two guy to reach out to eleanor and make a deal. >> glor: lou-- eleanor is a very interesting part of lou gehrig's life and defining his legacy. and putting herself in that story as well. she wrote a book about it. >> she wrote a book, 30 years
later, my luke and i which became another movie in 1970. but for this move ye, she was, she played the role of the legacy keeper. she would write letters to goldwyn saying this script, look at it. these things are wrong. you can't have lou being signed by manager miller huggins with huggins wearing a suit in a yankee office. she lost that she said you can't have lou hit four homeruns in a world series game. all right, you can't have that. so they had him hit two homeruns in a world series game for a little boy with polio in a hospital. didn't happen, but better than four. so he hit two. >> glor: so the point is how intently she was trying to define his legacy. >> yeah, i mean she really wanted cooper to deliver the speech exactly as her husband did. the problem with that is that there really was no script. there really was no text. gehrig went up there without
anything. here is a guy who didn't deliver speeches, who was, this is the heap between double headers of a yankee game july 4th, 39ry. his body is starting to wither. people were afraid he was going to fall. he really didn't want to speak but they had prepared something but we don't know what. he goes up without anything in hands. when eleanor says to gold winn i want to you do this. she says here is the copy of the speech from memory. nobody it-- it appears it was never written down. so when the newspapers covered it, they weren't prepared for a speech. there was no transscript, so there were so many things in there that were different from eleanor's official version. >> glor: goldwyn really dragged out, at least the announcement of who was going to play lou gehrig. i think a lot of people always thought it would be gary cooper. in the end gary cooper was perfect for the role. >> eleanor wanted cooper and cooper was in the last picture of his contract with goldwyn with whom he had a tell pestious relationship at times. so he organized this scarlet o'hara like search for the actor to play him.
and he had casa--s could mol tan comeg, porty snus, the gal op organization and a radio trade magazine all out there taking polls. you would hear names like eddie albert and carry grant or even babe ruth, even the two players who succeeded and preceded lou gerric-- gehrig at first base, were mentioned. eddy albert you can imagine the guy, the star of green acres as lou gehrig. i don't think anybody expected anybody else, anybody in the know, that it would be anybody but cooper. >> glor: and babe ruth say big part, not only babe ruth is a big part of lou gehrig's baseball career as the greatest yankee of all time but the movie. >> yeah. >> glor: an he was a big draw for the movie as well. >> the real life babe ruth who was then what 47, babe had been a little bit forgotten by now. he retired from playing after the 35y season. nobody wanted d him to manage. so he is playing a lot of golf and eating a lot. he lost about 50 pounds to play the role. and if someone was looking for
real baseball in the movie, they got babe ruth. babe ruth could still swing like babe ruth. he couldn't hit like babe ruth any more, he had to rehearse a few times before he hit a a homerun but was babe ruth. he had been in the movie before, had done some silent movies. he knew how to play babe ruth pretty damn well. eleanor did not want him in the movie. >> glor: why. >> eleanor felt that much like her husband playing in the shadow of babe ruth all those years, for about a decade until ruth left for boston, she didn't want babe taking any, any attention away from gary cooper. she probably knew that wasn't going to happen and she probably knew if gld winn knew anything about baseball that babe ruth was a big name. he knew nog about baseball. but he was a big deal, essentially the third star 6 the movie writely cooper and wright. >> glor: gary cooper didn't know a lot about baseball either. >> no, the closest thing was that he owned a small piece of a minor league team with other
hollywood stars, they owned the steam called the hollywood stars with bob cobb, the head of the brown derby strawnlt. he needed six weeks of tutoring by former national league batting star lefty o dool who was now minor league manager. and one thing he did was he said okay, we've got to go from you're a righty, gehrig was a leftie. and he said you know how to chop a tree, don't you. he gave him an axe and had him swing at a tree to mimic the motion. cooper not having any skills as a baseball player or any experience, he didn't have to unlearn bad habits. so there are people who say okay, he was terrible as lou gehrig. well, if you watch him, it's not that bad considering he needed to learn in six weeks. and in 1942 there wasn't the great requirement that actors be as ad lettics' as they are now. an actor with gary cooper's skills as a baseball player would not northbound a movie like this right now. >> glor: i think if you watch
it though, they did do a pretty good job of through editing and training of him, of putting him there as a baseball player. >> they made sure that the ball didn't make contact with the bat very often but i look at one scene where he is in an arcade wearing a tuxedo hitting a ball and he was making regular contact it may have taken several or even many takes for that to happen but his swing was nothing like gehrigs. he was a tall, lanky guy, gehrig was a somewhat shorter, very muscular guy who was nicknamed for some reason was biscuit pants among others but if you look at cooper's swing, it's not that bad. the legend is that he did so poorly in trying to be a leftie that he did everything right-handed and they flipped the film. the evidence really isn't true. you would have to do so much planning to do that. the def part where it was flipped, maybe the hardest thing to do is go from throwing rightie to throwing leftie, they flipped his rightie throwing to leftie but it was only a very
small scene. >> glor: nobody has really done an examination of how this movie was made and how it came together. even though as you not in the beginning it was sort of the firs sports classic. around it set the stage for so many other sports movies, still to this day. were you surprised nobody had taken that deep dive into it p>>e deletteriously happy, sure. look, when you become fascinated with something and you realize okay, there are books on casablanca, the making of the "wizard of oz" and movies like that, then are you happy that a favorite of yours has not been done. i think of a movie like raging bulks that deserves a book. that is in my mind the best sports movie ever. but much like pride of the yankees t is about boxing, but it is not about boxing, it's about relationships and de niro's performance is just stunning. >> glor: but this is the first, the first sports classic. >> maybe some people think knute
rocky was a classic. but i think there wasn't much of a genre back then, so this was the big one, six years later they did a movie about babe ruth which learned no lessons from this. it was horrible. no, no.m good?out babe ruth. one is eh, the other two are just awful. in the first one the babe ruth story, the same doctor who treated a dog who was hit by one of babe's line drives treated him for cancer later on. you can't, you just can't-- you could take liberties but you can't do that. >> glor: no, probably not. the difference in terms of off the field activity and personality between babe ruth, and lou gehrig which you talk about a good amount hear in the book is remarkable in every single way. can you shed a little more light on what you learned about how different these two men were? >> well, you know, i often, when have i written the name bab
ruth, i use the term-- there is no one like him, is he was-- did he anything he wanted to do. there were no governors on his behalfier, drinking, eating, carrousing for a good portion of his career. he was sort of uncontrollable and that's what made people say team owners say if you can't control yourself, how you can control other players. >> glor: some people wonder why a lot of great players move into management positions. babe ruth never did. >> he never did, he wasn't trusted. i think by his later years he probably could have been trusted because he really, really wanted to show how knowledgeable he was, and he was. gehrig was a momma's boy, raised strictly by two german immigrant parents. he was the only surviving child, several others had died before him, in child birth or a little bit later. he was excessively doated on by his mother who probably was worrying when the hammer would come down on young lou.
but lou grew up strong, but he grew up very quiet and he was so reserved that when "the new yorker" did a profile of him in 1929, he was a great player by that time. he had won the mvp in 27y. the writer nevin bush basically said lou gehrig does not even deserve to have fans. not deserve to have fans. >> glor: because he was so. >> so dull. he was so dull. they only had one quote of him in there. the writer was much more enamoured of mother gehrig who was a much larger-than-life person, if you ask eleanor gehrig about her future mother-in-law. she had only negative things to say. she-- . >> glor: that was a toxic relationship. >> you know, a toxic relationship as told by eleanor. we don't have much testimony from other parties. her when she sat down with paul the first writer on the script and he had been already the daily news sports editor and columnist, they sat down for a
couple of weeks in san francisco. and she poured out her life to him. her life on her own. her life with lou and how difficult it was. at some, at one point, eleanor and her mother-in-law were fighting over whether, what either one of them fed lou was responsible for his als. that is toxic stuff. the early scripts written by him were indicative, showed how toxic their relationship was. that kind of softened because by about halfway through the movie elsa january sen's portrayal has gotten a little comic, a little more accepting of eleanor. but there's a scene when gary cooper brings theresa wright home for eleanor to meet his mother. and there is a closeup of elsa january sen's eyes. and she sees the ring on theresa wright's hand and there is almost this look of panic and hatred all at once. well, that eventually dissipates
so that not only does she accept eleanor, she accepts the baseball that he is playing. she said are you going to be an snore like your uncle otto. that was over. otto, schmotto, she says. you are a great baseball player. >> rose: this plays a big part in the movie that is lou gehrig's mother's wishes for him to be an engineer and not a baseball player. is that true to real life? >> no, she was like many immigrant mothers. she wanted him to have an education. and she was thrilled that he was at columbia. i haven't read much to say that she objected to him being a baseball player. she wanted him to have an education. she had-- she had his best interest in heart, at heart but i don't think there is much to say about her hating him as a baseball player. a lot of parents in that age probably would have thought you can't make money as a ball player. how good are you.
i don't think she had enough knowledge of baseball to know whether lou was good or not. >> glor: gary cooper was much lankier than lou gehrig. we talked about the talent level, at least, baseball wise but they also looked different at least their bodies. so how was it that if he didn't come in with this sort of institutional baseball knowledge or skill or the sort of body and makeup that lou gehrig had, was he able to make himself lou gehrig so completely? >> well, one of cooper's skills was playing men of quiet dignity. he played a lot of other rolls but he was almost always gary cooper. and gary cooper projected dignity. that is what was needed to play gehrig. he was concerned that you know, how do you play someone without died so recently, whose memory is so clear in people's minds. he said you can't make-- you can't do tricks with that. you have to be faithful but he knew, he knew who he was. he knew he was a really good
actor. and in that it was really a love story, that was easy for him. or relatively. he was a terrific actor, maybe underrated as an actor. maybe parody for saying no more than yip as a cowboy. but you look at the relationship on screen between he and theresa wright. theresa was about 18 years younger. but she was a terrific actress. she was nominated for academy award for each of her first three movies. so they had a wonderful on-screen chemistry. that to me is what carries the movie, it is not the baseball action of which there is maybe ten minutes of. so i think he was himself. at one point he wrote to eleanor and said i think lou gehrig has become gary cooper. >> glor: an we've talked about, we talked about this, he for a 1942 movie, his acting is much more nuanced, i think. and then you might expect. i mean that quiet dignity, that saul this is.
>> exactly. and it is the emotion, the chemistry is such that when you see them together i think you really believe they loved each other. there's that scene towards the end before lou has to go to the stadium to deliver the speech where she is watching him unbeknownsed to him trying to tie his bow tie. he can't do it. he lost his dexterity from the als and the tears are coming out of her eyes, immediately she said i'm going to cheer him up. so she dresses like a venner, makes believe she has a mustache and a little bull horn. and the genuine joy on his face is almost electric. and then each of them say we have the rest of our lives together. and that line sort of brings them up short because they know-- they know they don't have much time together. and they would only have two years. so i think very quickly you realize that theresa wright was not only a good young actress, she could project this maturity and sweetness at the same time.
it probably wasn't the hardest role she's ever had but she was really terrific. i think she was very, very underrated f her skills in helping to carry thamovie. there was a see that she would do anything for her man. >> glor: i want to talk about your career as well. >> okay. >> glor: which i followed for a long time. you have made some shifts. >> i made a big shift, yeah. >> glor: you made a big shift. why, why make that change, and how has it been snr. >> well look, i enjoyed writing about sports media and business for 25 years, a little bit longer including years i spent before the times doing that. but you get tired of things. and when the opportunity came up to change, to the obituaries disk, i thought you know, this kind of dove tails nicely with what i was doing with the book it is a much quicker deep dive
into the-- and i always point to one obit as a reason why i'm enjoying it so much. how can you not enjoy doing the obituary of a guy who not only invented the tel straighter but also chaired a study group in the late '50s about the impact of detonating a nubbing clear bomb on the moon, one guy did that, one guy, the tl straighter alone would have been enough. >> and this is all about that first par graph and so one of the most fascinating things in media is that it is between the commas, description, and the first graph, that is the standard, you know, gary cooper, great actor died so and so. but you had to be more creative. i'm working on one right now about the guy who wrote the book, who moved my cheese, spencer johnson, he just died the other day. and he also cowrote the one minute manager. he was a specialist in writing parables about life and business. and he was a medical dotor.
he didn't practic very long. he was trained to be a surgeon. and he made a quick switch to writing. and it's a fascinating life. every day or every other day i get another fascinating life to dive into. >> what is the criteria for selection? >> it has to be someone of reasonably high achievement. good or nev arious. you want to have someone who-- you want to tell the story of why that perso came to renown or why this person matters. so it can be a quirker thing like the guy who inventedded kitty litter which is one of the classic obits in the 09see. and-- obits and we don'tined doing obscure people, people who we haven't learned about that person's death for a year or so. i did one about the guy who at age 19 wrote the aniku cook book which was a compilation of army
manuals about how to make bombs and weaponry and cited by various ter yis-- terrorists as inoperation. the guy became an international renowned educator, distancing himself from his past. we didn't know of his death for a year after his death because a documentary about him came out and at the end it says and by the way, he died. >> so you don't care whether somebody, whether it was someone that died two hours ago or two years, necessarily. >> well, as long as the person is worth doing, sure. if it's a majo person, we most likely have an advance. we have 1700 advance obits in our directory of-- . >> glor: 1700. >> almost everybody you would expected and some people you don't expect because our editors have said this person is really interesting. we had one the other day about gene conely who won championships as a major league player and a basketball player. that was done five years ago and the reporter who did that spoke
to conely for the obituary. >> glor: that was a good piece. >> it was a very good piece and it is an example of our edito saying we know about the kings, queens, presidents, the big actors and rock stars. but below that level this peculiar area where swown t is a rarity for someone to win major league championships in two sports. >> rose: >> glor: i get the sense as morbid as the subject is, you have enjoyed sort of learning those. >> sometimes i tell the families who i talk to that it's been a pleasure because you get to know someone in a quick period of time. there is a movie that recently came out called obit about our staff and it was filmed a couple of years ago so i'm not in it. but in it one of my colleagues marringo fox who is a brilliant advanced obit writer, she said the obits are 1 percent about death, 99% about life. >> glor: yeah. >> so most of the people, most of the families we sak to understand the achievements of their dear departed one and really want to talk about that
person. and sometimes you get into awkward things like what was the firs wife's name, could you please tell me. you know, sometimes survivors, sometimes you don't always know all the survivors and another survivor will call up, why did you leave me out. but for the most part it's telling the story and trying to get the story down to 800 or 1,000 words. and you know, getting a life down to that much or that little can be a little difficult. but you want to tell the story well. you want it to be a story that people will say i wish i had known that person. because most of the people, i say i wish i had known them too. >> glor: i can only imagine those kferlingses with family members. and. >> most of them are far better than you think. far more lum naturing, because again, they do feel that being, having them, the dear departed ones obit and the times is a little bit of a val daition.
you know, i did one about a great baseball researcher, homerun guru, i couldn't have had a more pleasant conversation with someone than his wife who lost her husband a few days ago. i don't think i have ever had much he megs from people other than saying. >> really? quns glad you are doing this very little crying. i done remember any crying, i have been doing this since december. it's usually, i approach it with the utmost respect. it's a little bit like being a funeral director. you approach them with as nicely as possible. and if they don't call back you can't-- they're grieving. sometimes you find alternate ways to confirm things or understand more about the person's life. >> are you surprised what is happening with espn right now? >> to the speed with which it is happening, right. i done think they're in desperate trouble. i think they are smart enough to find alternate ways. three years ago when i worked on a three part series about esp in with nie colleagues jiment
miller and steve, that was the beginning of the cord cutting and we sort of flicked the future where they may have difficult times ahead. i think what you will see going forward is that as some of the big contracts with leagues come due in the 2020s, they may not renew all of them. they may renew football but maybe not baseball. maybe not some other sports. football is where they live. and but baseball, maybe not. >> and it is not just espn, it's fox sports as well. there is some seismic shifts taking place. >> and i think a love-- a lot of em people di't fully expect or expect what happened this quickly. fox sports won, having problems with their leader, jimmy horwitz was abruptly fired and the absolute reasons haven't been given but the overall 2 1s century fox is having earthquakes over sexual harassment and other things. mainly that.
with roger ailes and bill o reilly. and right now the murdochs are not tolerating any misbehavior among its executives. so do i miss some of that, sure. you know, i covered a lot of that stuff over the years. so you get a little panning once in a while. but because part of my job was also being a tv sports critic, i now can watch baseball without a notebook, without a pen in hand, without wondering whether announcer is going to misspeak. i can, you know, i can text keith hernandez when he and gary cohen are talk going batman and. >> must be nice. >> it is fun, it gives me back some of my life. during the super bowl i was talking to my bank about getting rid of some bogus charges. during the winning drive, i'm on the phone with my bank. so it's a pleasure to have a more normal life. i loved what i did. i love what i do now.
>> richard sandomir the book is called the pride of the yankees, lou gehrig, gary cooper and the making of a classic. thank you for ing here. >> thank you, jeff, pleasure. >> for more about this program and earlier episodes visit us online at pbs.org and charlie rose.com. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org