Lesley Stahl

News Correspondent / Anchor


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

Lesley Stahl knew she had what it took to be a reporter: "I think I knew by instinct that the door kicking part was necessary, the idea that you make a hundred calls instead of just fifty, and that you don't take no for an answer. I knew that my energy was going to be there, my urge to get to the bottom of a story would not flag."  Lesley Stahl's over three-decade career in broadcast journalism includes serving as White House correspondent during the Carter, Reagan, and Bush Sr. presidencies and lengthy tenures as the moderator of Face the Nation and as a correspondent on 60 Minutes. In her one-hour Archive interview, Stahl talks about discovering her passion for journalism and her early years in television, which included work as a producer at CBS affiliate WHDH in Boston. She discusses how, as a result of affirmative action, she came to work for CBS News in the early 1970s as a Washington reporter and touches on the stories she covered, notably the Watergate scandal. She references the challenges of being a woman in the male-dominated news business of the time. She recounts how she came to be appointed as White House Correspondent at CBS during the Carter Administration and gives her impressions of its treatment of the press, (in comparison to the subsequent Reagan Administration). She speaks in some detail about her longtime association with the news-magazine series 60 Minutes: outlining the process by which she puts a story segment together and giving her impressions of executive producers Don Hewitt and Jeffrey Fager. Lastly, she discusses her work as moderator of Face the Nation, saying of her interviewing style: "I tried to be tough, I wanted to be tough. I think that's what they paid me to do. I wanted to make news and I think I was tenacious." Karen Herman conducted the interview in New York, NY on September 14, 2006.

"When you cover the White House, you are no longer in control of your life at all, you're at the mercy of the President's schedule 100%."

Highlights
Lesley Stahl on consciously trying to convey authority as a reporter
01:07
Lesley Stahl on the jobs women had at NBC News, when she started in 1967
00:24
Lesley Stahl on coverage of Watergate by network television and on Watergate burglary trial judge John Sirica's importance in the "assault" on President Nixon
01:41
Lesley Stahl on advice for beginning journalists
00:54
Lesley Stahl on her interviewing style
00:53
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her background; on how debates at home may have had an influence on her becoming a journalist; on abandoning a medical career and having an epiphany about becoming a journalist; on her first job in television, at NBC, on the 1968 election research team
On her year at NBC's London bureau and leaving to work for CBS affiliate WHDH in Boston; on gaining experience at WHDH; on getting hired at CBS' Washington D.C. news bureau in the early 1970s and how affirmative action played a part in her hiring; on being told to re-do an on-camera piece without smiling (and it having to do with exuding authority as a woman); on being assigned the "unimportant" Watergate break-in story as a rookie reporter and what a break it was for her career; on her on-camera look
On tenacity in journalism; on her "apprenticeship" at CBS as a reporter in Washington D.C.; on being positioned at Gerald Ford's house during Nixon's resignation; on encountering sexism within news crews; on coverage of Watergate by the media and on Watergate burglary trial judge John Sirica's importance in the "assault" on President Nixon; on her personal and professional life following the Watergate story and her co-anchoring of the morning news from Washington D.C.

Chapter 2

On her promotion to CBS' White House Correspondent circa 1978, covering the Carter Administration; on how the resistance of the Carter Administration to her becoming CBS White House correspondent ended up working in her favor in terms of developing richer contacts; on her 'favorite' breaking story of her career, regarding President Carter's grain embargo of the USSR in 1980
On being brought on to 60 Minutes in 1991; on the process of doing a story for 60 Minutes
On her experience as moderator of Face the Nation; on memorable interviews she did on Face the Nation; on her interviewing style; on how women have "arrived" in broadcast journalism; on advice for beginning journalists; on her career to date

Chapter 3

On an encapsulation of her career to date (cont'd)
Shows

60 Minutes

View Show Page
Lesley Stahl on being brought on to 60 Minutes
02:10
Lesley Stahl on having to "audition" for 60 Minutes, on a story about the Romanian adoption system
02:14
Lesley Stahl on the process of doing a story for 60 Minutes
03:17
Lesley Stahl on the talent of 60 Minutes creator/executive producer Don Hewitt
01:48
Lesley Stahl on submitting ideas to the executive producer of 60 Minutes
00:34
Lesley Stahl on working with 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager
01:33
Lesley Stahl on the competitiveness yet camaraderie of the correspondents on 60 Minutes
01:01

Face the Nation

View Show Page
Lesley Stahl on her experience as moderator of Face the Nation, and the approach the show took when she started in the early 1980s
01:33
Lesley Stahl on memorable interviews she did on Face the Nation, including George Schultz and Margaret Thatcher
01:17
Lesley Stahl on her interviewing style
00:53
Topics

Diversity in Television

View Topic
Lesley Stahl on consciously trying to convey authority as a reporter
01:07
Lesley Stahl on encountering sexism within news crews when she was a rookie reporter for CBS in Washington D.C. in the 1970s
01:47
Lesley Stahl on being told to re-do an on-camera piece without smiling (to exude more authority) while a correspondent for CBS in Washington in the 1970s
00:51
Lesley Stahl on getting hired at CBS' Washington D.C. news bureau, and how affirmative action played a part in her hiring
01:21
Lesley Stahl on the jobs women had at NBC News when she started in 1967
00:24
Lesley Stahl on women in broadcast journalism during her day
01:51

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
Lesley Stahl on consciously trying to convey authority as a reporter
01:07
Lesley Stahl on encountering sexism within news crews when she was a rookie reporter for CBS in Washington D.C. in the 1970s
01:47
Lesley Stahl on being told to re-do an on-camera piece without smiling (to exude more authority) while a correspondent for CBS in Washington in the 1970s
00:51
Lesley Stahl on getting hired at CBS' Washington D.C. news bureau, and how affirmative action played a part in her hiring
01:21
Lesley Stahl on the jobs women had at NBC News when she started in 1967
00:24
Lesley Stahl on women in broadcast journalism during her day
01:51

Jimmy Carter

View Topic
Lesley Stahl on how she found the Reagan Administration less "emotional" than the Carter Administration as CBS' White House Correspondent
01:32
Lesley Stahl on her start as CBS White House correspondent, covering the second half of Jimmy Carter's presidency
00:57

Richard M. Nixon

View Topic
Lesley Stahl on coverage of Watergate by network television and on Watergate burglary trial judge John Sirica's importance in the "assault" on President Nixon
01:41
Lesley Stahl on being assigned the "unimportant" Watergate break-in story as a rookie reporter and what a break it was for her career
01:47

Ronald Reagan

View Topic
Lesley Stahl on how she found the Reagan Administration less "emotional" than the Carter Administration as CBS' White House Correspondent
01:32
Lesley Stahl on memorable interviews she did on Face the Nation, including George Schultz and Margaret Thatcher during the Iran Contra Scandal
01:17

Television and the Presidency

View Topic
Lesley Stahl on coverage of Watergate by network television and on Watergate burglary trial judge John Sirica's importance in the "assault" on President Nixon
01:41
Lesley Stahl on being assigned the "unimportant" Watergate break-in story as a rookie reporter and what a break it was for her career
01:47
Lesley Stahl on the personal toll of covering the White House as a correspondent
01:09
Lesley Stahl on memorable interviews she did on Face the Nation, including George Schultz and Margaret Thatcher during the Iran Contra Scandal
01:17
Lesley Stahl on her start as CBS White House correspondent, covering the second half of Jimmy Carter's presidency
00:57

Women

View Topic
Lesley Stahl on consciously trying to convey authority as a reporter
01:07
Lesley Stahl on encountering sexism within news crews when she was a rookie reporter for CBS in Washington D.C. in the 1970s
01:47
Lesley Stahl on being told to re-do an on-camera piece without smiling (to exude more authority) while a correspondent for CBS in Washington in the 1970s
00:51
Lesley Stahl on getting hired at CBS' Washington D.C. news bureau, and how affirmative action played a part in her hiring
01:21
Lesley Stahl on the jobs women had at NBC News when she started in 1967
00:24
Lesley Stahl on women in broadcast journalism during her day
01:51
Professions

Journalists & News Producers

View Profession
Lesley Stahl on tenacity in journalism
00:43
Lesley Stahl on consciously trying to convey authority as a reporter
01:07
Lesley Stahl on her interviewing style
00:53
Lesley Stahl on advice for beginning journalists
00:54
Lesley Stahl on the personal toll of covering the White House as a correspondent
01:09
Lesley Stahl on how the resistance of the Carter Administration to her becoming CBS White House correspondent ended up working in her favor in terms of developing richer contacts
01:27
Genres

News and Documentary

View Genre
Lesley Stahl on the process of doing a story for 60 Minutes
03:17
People

George Schultz

View Person Page
Lesley Stahl on memorable interviews she did on Face the Nation, including George Schultz and Margaret Thatcher
01:17

Margaret Thatcher

View Person Page
Lesley Stahl on memorable interviews she did on Face the Nation, including George Schultz and Margaret Thatcher
01:17

Richard C. Wald

View Person Page
Lesley Stahl on her year at NBC News' London bureau and leaving to work for CBS affiliate WHDH in Boston (on advice from NBC News President Richard C. Wald)
01:16

Mike Wallace

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Lesley Stahl on being approached by Mike Wallace for 60 Minutes
02:10

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