Ed Bradley

Anchor / Correspondent


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

Ed Bradley says of his interviewing style: "My job is to put someone in a chair and get them to talk and tell their story, as if there are no cameras, no lights, not seven people in the room, just the two of us sitting there talking." Ed Bradley spent over three decades as a correspondent for CBS News, and was an esteemed member of the 60 Minutes staff. In his nearly four-hour Archive interview, Bradley (1941-2006) discusses his early career in radio in the 1960s. He describes his nervousness at reading the news on the air for the first time, and notes some of the field reporting he did, including stories related to the Civil Rights Movement. He talks about his first association with CBS radio in New York and as a stringer in Paris in the late '60s/early '70s. Bradley acknowledges the rareness of African-Americans in his field in radio at the time: "You could count on one hand the number of African-Americans and not use up all your fingers." He speaks in detail about his experiences as a correspondent in Cambodia and Vietnam during the Vietnam War, including the time he was wounded by shrapnel from a mortar shell. He talks about his work as an anchor on the CBS Sunday News, and as a producer for CBS Reports. Among the CBS Reports pieces he discusses is "The Boat People," about the plight of Vietnamese refugees, which was also excerpted on 60 Minutes. With part two of his Archive interview, Bradley recounts how he was offered the job for 60 Minutes. On 60 Minutes, Bradley describes working with executive producer Don Hewitt, outlines the process by which pieces are created, and comments on the art of the interview. Among the 60 Minutes pieces he touches on are: "Lena" (1981; a profile of singer Lena Horne), "In the Belly of the Beast" (1982; about author and accused murderer Jack Henry Abbott), "Larry" (1983; a profile of actor Laurence Olivier), "Dirty Little Secret" (1984; about an abused man who killed his father), "Michele" (1984, a profile of Michele Duvalier, wife of the former Haitian dictator), "Made in China" (1991, a hidden camera expose of prison labor in China), "Big Man, Big Voice" (1997, a profile of a German man whose birth defects didn't prevent him from succeeding as a singer), and "Timothy McVeigh" (2000, the only television interview with the convicted Oklahoma City bomber). Bradley describes his choice of stories thusly: "My taste in stories is rather like my taste in music. I enjoy blues, jazz, rhythm and blues, rock 'n' roll, opera, classical, …I mean, there are even some Gregorian chants that I like, Bach chorales, gospel music. It's the same with stories. I can go from doing a story, on a chemical attack by Saddam Hussein or heroin in Pakistan, to a profile of Robin Williams. And the nice thing about 60 Minutes is that you have the latitude to do a range of stories." Don Carleton (part 1) and Michael Rosen (part 2) conducted the interview in two parts, on May 12, 2000 and May 8, 2001 in New York, NY.

"What drove me was not being a pioneer. What drove me was my competitive nature to go out and be the best at what I could be in covering the story."

Highlights
Ed Bradley on the role television played in shaping public opinion about Vietnam
01:46
Ed Bradley on reporting from the field for a Philadelphia radio station during civil rights events
01:16
Ed Bradley on being told by his boss Ed Joyce at WCBS radio not to worry about losing his job after a second African-American man was hired there
01:28
Ed Bradley on being a pioneer, and what ultimately drives him
00:39
Ed Bradley on drawing a line between professionalism as a reporter and personal opinion
00:50
Ed Bradley on the "best chicken" he ever had--in Vietnam
00:58
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On growing up, childhood
On what he wanted to be when he grew up; first seeing television
On high school, college years
On his early career as a grade school teacher
On getting an early job in radio, finding his calling
On his first on-air experience, on radio
On his first field reporting experience
On becoming a radio program manager at WDAS
On getting hired by WCBS In New York
On moving to New York to work at CBS News
01:14

Chapter 2

On leaving a career in education to become a newsman in New York
On the New York school story; civil rights issues
On race issues while working at WCBS Radio; on his decision not to get personally involved in civil rights issues; on being a "pioneer"
On leaving WCBS, moving to Paris
On working as a stringer for CBS radio in Paris
On his first television piece for CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite
On his recollections about reporting on the Vietnam war

Chapter 3

On the technical process of reporting from Vietnam
On preparing to go to Vietnam and coping with the situation
On getting wounded in Vietnam
On reporting from a Vietcong base
On leaving Vietnam for the CBS Washington Bureau; getting assigned back to Cambodia
On the American pullout from Saigon

Chapter 4

On returning to the US after Vietnam to cover the presidential campaign in 1976
On being the "number two" man covering the White House at CBS news
On his take of Jimmy Carter's presidency
On leaving CBS Sunday Night News and joining 60 Minutes
On his first story for 60 Minutes : "the boat people"
On other stories he covered: "Three Mile Island"

Chapter 5

On being hired at 60 Mintues
On his first few months at 60 Mintues
On how stories are developed for 60 Minutes; his own process
On two 60 Minutes  stories that stand out: Richard Jahnke and Lena Horne

Chapter 6

On the importance of producers; on his segment producer for 60 Minutes, Jeanne Langley
On notable stories for 60 Minutes: Laurence Olivier, Little Richard, schizophrenia, Haiti

Chapter 7

On hard-hitting investigative pieces like "Made in China"; on segments vs. hour-long pieces
On more specific stories for 60 Minutes, including "Big Man Big Voice"
On change at 60 Minutes: the switch from film to videotape and 60 Minutes II

Chapter 8

On interviewing Timothy McVeigh for 60 Minutes
On the working atmosphere at 60 Minutes, and being himself
Shows

60 Minutes

View Show Page
Ed Bradley on becoming the host for CBS Reports, and his first brush with 60 Minutes
01:26
Ed Bradley on being hired at 60 Minutes
02:38
Ed Bradley on coming up with story ideas at 60 Minutes
00:41
Ed Bradley on Don Hewitt
01:04
Ed Bradley on his diverse interests in story ideas, and 60 Minutes' support of that
01:41
Ed Bradley on convincing people to appear on 60 Minutes
01:06
Ed Bradley on realizing the reach of 60 Minutes after airing the "boat people" story in 1979
01:09
Ed Bradley on why 60 Minutes continued to shoot with film long after the advent of videotape
00:59
Ed Bradley on how 60 Minutes has changed, and watching the show on Sundays
01:32

CBS News

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Ed Bradley on being the anchor for the CBS Sunday Night News
01:13

CBS Reports

View Show Page
Ed Bradley on becoming the host for CBS Reports, and his first brush with 60 Minutes
01:26
Ed Bradley on what was among the first stories for CBS Reports: the Vietnam refugees known as "boat people"
01:15
Ed Bradley on recognizing the reach of 60 Minutes after Don Hewitt excerpted a segment from CBS Reports and adapted it for 60 Minutes
02:32
Topics

Civil Rights Movement

View Topic
Ed Bradley on covering a Martin Luther King, Jr. speech during his first field reporting experience for a Philadelphia radio station
03:09
Ed Bradley on covering the fight for control of a local New York school board, while a reporter at WCBS radio in New York in the late 1960s
02:51

Creative Influences and Inspiration

View Topic
Ed Bradley on discovering his calling after meeting a Philadelphia disc jockey when Bradley was enrolled at a teacher training college
02:15
Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes executive producer Don Hewitt's beneficial influence on Bradley's work, and on his influence on television news programs in general
02:29
Ed Bradley on his mentor Del Shields, from WDAS radio in Philadelphia
01:33

Emmy Awards

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Ed Bradley on his attitude toward winning awards
00:34

Jimmy Carter

View Topic
Ed Bradley on covering the 1976 Democratic primary campaign for CBS
02:25
Ed Bradley on being one of the "boys on the bus" covering Jimmy Carter, and why Carter was a strong candidate
02:42

Minorities

View Topic
Ed Bradley on being told by his boss Ed Joyce at WCBS radio not to worry about losing his job after a second African-American man was hired there
01:28

Vietnam War

View Topic
Ed Bradley on covering the New York aspect of major news stories like the Vietnam war while a reporter at WCBS radio during the late 1960s and early 1970s
01:19
Ed Bradley on reporting from Vietnam during the war, his personal experience during that time, and his impressions of the region
03:50
Ed Bradley on keeping his personal opinions about war out of the reporting on the Vietnam conflict
00:48
Ed Bradley on getting wounded while covering Vietnam
03:22
Ed Bradley on seeing activity on the Ho Chi Minh trail and the determination of the Vietcong
02:02
Ed Bradley on being among the reporters who left Saigon from the roof of the American embassy
06:03
Ed Bradley on the role television played in shaping public opinion about Vietnam
01:46

We Considered

View Topic
Ed Bradley on the role television played in shaping public opinion about Vietnam
01:46
Professions

Correspondent

View Profession
Ed Bradley on his first television piece airing on the Evening News with Walter Cronkite, and on being hired by CBS Television as a correspondent reporting from Vietnam
02:40
Ed Bradley on how news was filed from Vietnam
00:54
Ed Bradley on access to the military while covering Vietnam
01:23
Ed Bradley on getting wounded while covering Vietnam
03:23
Ed Bradley on not wanting to cover politics after his return from covering Vietnam, thinking about quitting, and why he decided to stay
02:21
Ed Bradley on being among the reporters who left Saigon from the roof of the American embassy
06:03
Ed Bradley on his concept of the television documentary as he became head correspondent of CBS Reports
01:37
Ed Bradley on coming up with documentary subjects for CBS Reports
00:30

Journalists & News Producers

View Profession
Ed Bradley on getting his first on-camera interview at WCBS
03:20
Ed Bradley on developing journalistic impartiality during the Civil Rights Movement
00:50
Ed Bradley on the difference between reporting for radio versus television
00:57
Ed Bradley on keeping his personal opinions about war out of the reporting on the Vietnam conflict
00:48
Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes executive producer Don Hewitt's editorial style
01:04
Ed Bradley on his interviewing style
01:11
Ed Bradley on the importance of segment producers
00:56
Genres

News and Documentary

View Genre
Ed Bradley on getting his first on-camera interview at WCBS, and on that station instituting a new style of interviewing as a result
03:20
Ed Bradley on keeping his personal opinions about war out of the reporting on the Vietnam conflict
00:47
Ed Bradley on how news was filed from Vietnam
00:54
Ed Bradley on access to the military while covering Vietnam
01:23
Ed Bradley on being the "number two" man covering the White House for CBS behind Bob Schieffer
01:44
Ed Bradley on his concept of the television documentary as he became head correspondent of CBS Reports
01:37
Ed Bradley on former 60 Minutes executive producer Don Hewitt
01:04
Ed Bradley on realizing the reach and impact of 60 Minutes after airing the "boat people" story in 1979
02:32
Ed Bradley on professional standards in broadcast journalism
01:03
People

Walter Cronkite

View Interview Page
Ed Bradley on the role television played in shaping public opinion about Vietnam, and on Walter Cronkite's role as communicator
01:46

Don Hewitt

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Ed Bradley on meeting Don Hewitt at the Democratic and Republican Conventions in 1976
01:17
Ed Bradley on the powerful, but publicly unseen presence of Don Hewitt on 60 Minutes
01:08
Ed Bradley on Don Hewitt's ability to make 60 Minutes correspondents' stories better, and his "seat of the pants editorial style"
02:29
Ed Bradley on initial resistance from Don Hewitt to his Little Richard interview on 60 Minutes
01:41
Ed Bradley on recognizing the reach of 60 Minutes after Don Hewitt excerpted a segment from CBS Reports and adapted it for 60 Minutes
02:32
Ed Bradley on Don Hewitt, after being swept away by Hewitt during Bradley's interview to record a "tease" for 60 Minutes
01:02

Anita Hill

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Ed Bradley on interviewing Anita Hill, a "get" for 60 Minutes
00:50

Lena Horne

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Ed Bradley on one of his best pieces for 60 Minutes, his 1981 interview with Lena Horne
02:41

Ed Joyce

View Person Page
Ed Bradley on being told by his boss Ed Joyce at WCBS radio in the late 1960s not to worry about losing his job after a second African-American man was hired there
01:28

Peter Kalischer

View Person Page
Ed Bradley on being hired as a stringer in Paris by CBS correspondent Peter Kalischer
01:39
Ed Bradley on advice given by CBS correspondent Peter Kalischer while covering the Vietnam war
00:46

Robert F. Kennedy

View Person Page
Ed Bradley on covering the New York aspect of Robert F. Kennedy's assassination, and other major news stories, while a reporter at WCBS radio during the late 1960s and early 1970s
01:19

Martin Luther King, Jr.

View Person Page
Ed Bradley on covering a Martin Luther King, Jr. speech during his first field reporting experience for a Philadelphia radio station
03:09

Laurence Olivier

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Ed Bradley on the challenge of interviewing Laurence Olivier for 60 Minutes
02:29

Little Richard

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Ed Bradley on his Little Richard interview for 60 Minutes
01:41

Richard S. Salant

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Ed Bradley on becoming the head correspondent for CBS Reports, his first brush with 60 Minutes, and his relationship with Dick Salant
02:17

Bob Schieffer

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Ed Bradley on being the "number two" man covering the White House for CBS behind Bob Schieffer
01:44

Howard Stringer

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Ed Bradley on working with Howard Stringer on coming up with documentary subjects for CBS Reports, and on Stringer promoting documentaries at CBS
02:57

Hunter S. Thompson

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Ed Bradley on becoming friends with Hunter S. Thompson, and on "gonzo journalism"
03:40

Mike Wallace

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Ed Bradley on Mike Wallace, the person most publicly associated with the success of 60 Minutes when Bradley joined the program
01:08

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