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CNN RELIABLE SOURCES
Interview With Bob Woodruff; Rick Kaplan Appointed 'CBS Evening News' Producer
Aired March 11, 2007 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST (voice over): Cheating death. ABC's Bob Woodruff talks about why he risked going to Iraq, the impact of his brain injury on his family, and his new focus on wounded veterans getting shoddy care.
Anchor wars. CBS dumps Katie Couric's producer and replaces him with former CNN and MSNBC president Rick Kaplan. Can he revive the third-place newscast?
Media on trial. The Scooter Libby conviction means that the jury believed Tim Russert, not Dick Cheney's former aide. But was the media's reputation tarnished in the process? Now will more journalists be hauled into court?
Plus, invasion of privacy? Rudy Giuliani is estranged from his son, who doesn't like the former mayor's new wife. Is this fair game for the press?
KURTZ: She started out with six months ago with a hurricane of hype, a $15 million paycheck, and high hopes as the first female nightly news anchor. But Katie Couric and the "CBS Evening News" remain mired in third place, and this week dumped her executive producer, Rome Hartman.
This morning we turn our critical lens on the network anchor wars and how Couric, like ABC's Charlie Gibson and NBC's Brian Williams, have been tinkering with a mix of hard news and softer stuff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATIE COURIC, CBS NEWS: The national outrage over the treatment of America's war wounded brought members of Congress to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington today, and they got an ear full.
A lot of women are having trouble sleeping these days, but it has nothing to do with broken hearts. So what's keeping them awake?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: The shakeup at CBS comes days after "NBC Nightly News" replaced its top producer, John Reiss, with the network vice president, Alexandra Wallace. The new executive producer of the "CBS Evening News" is Rick Kaplan, who in the last 10 years has been president of CNN and MSNBC and was once Ted Koppel's producer at "Nightline" and Peter Jennings producer at "World News."
What does this mean for the evening newscast?
Joining us now in Tampa, Eric Deggans, media critic for "The St. Petersburg Times." In Philadelphia, Gail Shister, television columnist for "The Philadelphia Inquirer." And here in Washington, David Zurawik, television critic for "The Baltimore Sun."
A quick answer from each of you, please.
Gail Shister, we'll start with you. Does the shakeup at CBS amount to an admission that Katie Couric's newscast is not working?
GAIL SHISTER, "PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER": I think it's hazard to see it as anything else, Howie. I mean, when you make a change at the top, that says to me they're not happy with the status quo.
KURTZ: David Zurawik.
DAVID ZURAWIK, "THE BALTIMORE SUN": Oh, it's -- absolutely. And it's the first public admission. That's the real thing.
Remember, back in December, we talked about all of the mistakes they made with that newscast. Now they are two million behind, whereas -- two million viewers behind, whereas only 100,000 separates ABC and NBC.
This is the first public admission. And I think they did it right on the heels of the NBC move to sort of not become page one news, coming after a second -- a good P.R.
KURTZ: All right.
ZURAWIK: Long overdue.
KURTZ: Eric Deggans.
ERIC DEGGANS, "ST. PETERSBURG TIMES": What's interesting to me about this is that all of the predictions that critics had made about what would happen to the newscast have happened. They got a huge initial viewership, and it tailed off as we went back to the regular people who watch the evening news, and they didn't have a plan B. They didn't have a plan for if everything turned out the way we all thought it would. And this is obvious, they have changed horses in mid stream.
KURTZ: Right. Well, I think we're seeing plan B right now.
Gail Shister, Rick Kaplan and some other CBS executives have said that there is a portion of the audience that may still not be comfortable getting their news from a woman at 6:30.
Do you think that is a factor? SHISTER: Unfortunately, yes. I do still think it's a factor.
As much as we'd like to think that as a culture, that we have progressed to the point where it doesn't matter, I think that in news particularly, there is a sense that there is not the -- I hate the "G" word, but the gravitas when a woman gives the news, as opposed to a man gives the news. You also have to understand that the average news viewer tends to be older, 60 and older, so they are more entrenched in the tradition. And the tradition, until Katie Couric came in September, was white, middle-aged men.
KURTZ: Right. Well, we think have you great gravitas on this show.
David Zurawik, CBS tried a number of features at the outset with Katie Couric, like free speech, the commentary segment. It didn't work. They put more hard news back in the broadcast, but that doesn't seem to be bringing the viewers back.
ZURAWIK: Well, I think one of the reasons -- don't forget, they went so radically in terms of that change at the first -- and this really -- you know, you can replace -- you can put a new executive producer in there, but you still have Les Moonves, who is really the architect of this, who said for over a year we were going to reinvent the news, we were going to reinvent the news. Now they are saying, no, we're not.
You have McManus' -- Sean McManus' comments last week, "We're not going to change anything." But think back...
KURTZ: Let me just explain that Sean McManus is the president of CBS News.
KURTZ: Les Moonves runs the network.
Let me also just turn to Eric Deggans on this point.
You know, if Katie Couric had come on and done the same old traditional newscast everyone else has done, people like you would be all over them.
DEGGANS: That's for sure. Well, I want to make a point, too, about women on the news.
What I learned after doing a story about her six-month anniversary recently is that people are reacting to this specific woman. She's very divisive. There are people who really like her, but there are people who are very turned off, and they don't like seeing someone who they associated with much lighter fare as a morning show host suddenly anchoring the evening news. So I don't know that we know. KURTZ: But I don't completely understand that. I don't completely understand that, because Charlie Gibson was on "Good Morning America" for 19 years, and the morning shows are a mix of hard news and soft news. So why is...
SHISTER: Yes, but the different...
DEGGANS: But Charlie has a much -- had a much different image. He filled in for Peter Jennings quite a bit during his tenure. He started with much more reliable hard news credentials. And unfortunately, their images as anchors are very different and were very different.
ZURAWIK: Howard, I think it's unfair, though, to make this -- it's giving CBS too much of a break to say this is about the woman. They made a million mistakes.
Katie Couric's "Listening to America" tour, does anybody remember that crackpot idea? Oh, you can interview Katie Couric, but you can't write about it for two weeks. Does anybody remember that idea?
You know, they had -- you know, just let me give you this -- remember the first broadcast. Lara Logan had a legitimate piece of very strong hard news, the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Instead of reporting that story as hard news, they reported it as western woman goes under the veil into the heart of darkness. I mean, they may have even used Joseph Conrad's text.
KURTZ: All right.
ZURAWIK: That's -- they did all of these radical things. This is not just about a woman at the anchor desk.
KURTZ: Let's not ignore the very good reporting that Lara Logan...
ZURAWIK: No, I'm saying. No, no, no. She got the scoop.
KURTZ: I hear you.
Gail Shister, I heard your voice. You wanted to get in.
SHISTER: Yes, I want to get in.
First of all, Zurawik, calm down. You're going to have a stroke. That's the first thing.
SHISTER: The second thing is that I think that the problem is not just Katie. I agree with Eric, and also with David. It's the content. There is a problem with the content.
They have to rearrange everything. And I happen to think that Rick Kaplan is the perfect person to do this.
He's a 6'7" guy. He's very physically imposing. He is a force of nature.
And I think what they need is somebody who's going to come in and have the chutzpah, if you will, to stand up to Katie, because what I've been hearing from people at CBS is that it's been pretty much Katie's way from the beginning, and clearly it's not working. And they need somebody who's going to come in and say this is the way it's going to be.
KURTZ: All right. Let me jump in here.
Eric, Kaplan is indeed a force of nature who has bounced around the business, and we'll watch very closely what he does.
Now, Brian Williams of "NBC Nightly News" took the program to Iraq this week. He interviewed a top general, among other things.
Let's take a brief look at that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: You just said they don't want us to leave. That's the -- that's the 10th time today I've heard that. I've got to go back to the states and do a newscast that every night has another politician or 12 of them saying we have got to get out of that god forsaken place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Eric Deggans, did we get a deeper understanding of the situation in Iraq by Williams going there?
DEGGANS: I'm not sure we did, although I applaud Brian for trying to bring some depth to the reporting and actually get out there and see what's going on. But I agree with some of the analysts who said that a nightly newscast is more a producer's medium and it's more a reporter's medium. It's not an anchor's medium.
These people are introducing stories that are done by other people, and the charisma and their bonding with viewers is what they are getting paid for. I don't know that we necessarily need Brian Williams risking his life in Iraq, as much as we need Brian Williams figuring out better ways to tell everything that's happening...
KURTZ: Well, I would just point out that, you know, Rather, Brokaw, Jennings all went around the world, covered breaking news. And Williams says it's important for him to have a good feel, a first- person feel for the story that is such a dominant story.
But I want to turn now -- excuse me, David -- to this other controversy that's bubbled up about Nevada Democrats canceling a presidential debate that was to be aired on FOX News. This happened after FOX News chairman Roger Ailes, who was at an awards dinner accepting an award, making some jokes, had this to say. We've got the tape from C-SPAN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER AILES, FOX NEWS PRESIDENT: It is true Barack Obama is on the move. I don't know if it's true that President Bush called Musharraf and said, "Why can't we catch this guy?"
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: David Zurawik, is that the reason that the Democrats decided to pull the plug on this FOX debate?
ZURAWIK: Well, there -- no. There was obviously a lot more going on.
Don't forget, moveon.org, the Web site, was involved in this, and it became a highly polarized and kind of divisive issue. But here's the thing, Howard, about this...
ZURAWIK: You know, all of those will treat FOX News as a legitimate news organization, as we should. Those are the values we adhere to. But these are the guys who said that Obama attended a radical Muslim school. Put that reckless report out there on the air that was wrong. They're going to expect some people to not trust them in the political world. You know?
KURTZ: Gail Shister...
ZURAWIK: And I think this played into it.
KURTZ: Gail Shister, I've got about half a minute.
SHISTER: OK. I think that it's childish. I think it's high school the thing about making fun of his name.
I think it's ironic that he made the remarks when he was getting an award for the First Amendment. And I also think that you could make the -- Democrats could make the argument that, well, what if we called "Adolph Giuliani?" Names matter. Words are important.
KURTZ: All right.
Here's the FOX News vice president in a statement. "News organizations will want to think twice before getting involved with the Nevada Democratic Caucus, which appears to be controlled by radical fringe, out-of-state interest groups."
Eric Deggans, brief comment.
DEGGANS: Well, I don't know if that's true. I would say that there was a lot of pressure for them to drop FOX News, and this gave them an excuse. And I would also say it's ironic that the joke also seemed to be about George Bush, not Barack Obama.
KURTZ: Yes. John Edwards had dropped out even before the Ailes joke.
Gail Shister, Eric Deggans, David Zurawik, thanks very much for joining us.
Up next, the verdict is in on Scooter Libby, but what about the media? We'll talk with Matt Cooper, who narrowly avoided jail in the case.
And later, don't miss our sit-down with Bob Woodruff.
Also today, 1:00 p.m. Eastern, John Roberts, "THIS WEEK AT WAR." Here's a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's clear that this is a classic guerilla tactic. They're pulling back. They're waiting to see what their enemy does.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) that's been defined as Baghdad. That's where the focus has to be.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: When will all of this begin to impact troop morale?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The higher threat is from a dirty bomb.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There is a motive to perhaps silence him. That's the conspiracy theory.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Three and a half years after Robert Novak told the world that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA, a jury this week convicted Scooter Libby for perjury and obstruction of justice in the Valerie Plame leak investigation. It was a case in which journalists sometimes seemed to be on trial themselves, and it ticked off a furious media debate about the involvement of Libby's boss, Dick Cheney, as pictured on the cover of "TIME" and whether more reporters will now be forced to testify in other cases.
Joining us now in Boston, Bob Zelnick, former ABC News correspondent who teaches journalism at Boston University. Here in Washington, Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. And Matt Cooper, Washington editor for Conde Nast Portfolio, who was threatened with jail when he was a "TIME" correspondent for reaching a last-minute agreement to testify in the Libby case. Matt Cooper, you came within a couple of days of having to go to jail for refusing to testify before you got a waiver of confidentiality from Karl Rove. Then you had to testify during the trial, which can't have been the most pleasant experience.
Did all of this make you think twice, three times, about promising a source confidentiality in the future?
MATT COOPER, CONDE NAST PORTFOLIO: Well, you know, obviously I think everybody is, you know, going to be more mindful after a case like this. But look, you know, you don't know at the time when you're having a conversation with somebody and you or they say, you know, "Off the record," or "By the way," or "Don't quote me on this," what's of particular interest. And frankly, at the time I was talking to them, it wasn't entirely clear, you know, what they would say.
You know, often you make those agreements at the beginning of a conversation. You don't know what's going to come next, and often you don't realize the import of what they are telling you until much later.
So, you know, while I'm certainly mindful, you know, I'm proud of what I wrote at the time. I wrote a piece saying that there was kind of this effort to, you know, criticize and attack Ambassador Wilson. So that held up. And so in the end, I'm pretty comfortable with where I'm at.
KURTZ: What was it like to have to testify? I mean, there was a lot about you had trouble deciphering your notes. And people think that the image of journalists really took a beating in this trial.
COOPER: Well, I think to some degree that's true. Look, I think, you know, journalists -- there are many journalists involved in this case. Sometimes it seems like all of Washington went up on the stand -- Tim Russert, me, Robert Novak, Bob Woodward, other reporters from your paper, "The Washington Post," when up there.
I think we all -- you know, in the end, every reporter who was subpoenaed wound up testifying.
COOPER: And we all got there through different ways. You know, I'm sure, you know, we -- we all would have done some things differently, but, you know, at the end of the day, that's what happened.
KURTZ: And Lucy Dalglish, Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, sent Judith Miller to jail, almost sent Matt. All these other journalists, as Matt just said, had testified.
So, has Fitzgerald given a roadmap to other prosecutors to haul reporters into court under threat of incarceration?
LUCY DALGLISH, COMMITTEE FOR FREEDOM OF THE PRESS: I think he has, and I would expect to see more subpoenas just like these in the future.
What's particularly interesting about this case is, over the last 30 years or so, every once in a while we would see a case where a reporter would be threatened and might go to jail. This case is really -- brings us into totally new ground. I cannot even imagine a scenario several years ago where I would have contemplated 10 reporters testifying in a federal criminal case.
KURTZ: And Bob Zelnick, you know, the media made a huge deal about the leaking of Valerie Plame's name and her CIA connection back in 2003. How much blame do news organizations deserve for this whole proceeding spiraling out of control?
BOB ZELNICK, BOSTON UNIVERSITY: I think they deserve substantial blame. I think they treated it as the greatest leak since (INAUDIBLE) or something like that. And I think the combination of the media running in a pack, urging the strongest possible investigation, an overzealous special prosecutor, and some very hard-nosed judges, and I think you've produced the perfect storm that has engulfed journalism right now.
KURTZ: Matt Cooper, there has been a lot of talk about perhaps there's too cozy a relationship between Washington journalists and high officials in this administration. Was it frustrating for you to have to protect Karl Rove and Scooter Libby when they had been conducting a partisan campaign that you wrote about in the war on Joe Wilson? And here you had given your word and yet you couldn't -- you felt you couldn't testify?
COOPER: Well, you know, as I said at the time, I don't think you can really sort of make a distinction between kind of good sources and bad sources. You know, all sources have mixed motives. Even the most sainted of confidential sources -- Deep Throat from Watergate was a frustrated Hooverite, felt he had been passed over for the big jobs at the FBI and felt bad that the White House was honing in on their clandestine activities. So, you know, all sources have motivations.
At the end of the day, as a journalist, you make a commitment, and you have to stick by it, no matter what the motivation is.
KURTZ: But, you know, the whole reason that we as journalists say we need these special privileges, we need to be able to quote people without using their names, is so that we can break important stories about corruption, and wrongdoing, so forth.
Doesn't a case like this undermine that rationale?
DALGLISH: I suppose to a certain degree it does, but, you know -- and nobody ends up looking good in this case. I think as we were saying, the prosecutor doesn't look good, the media doesn't look good, the White House doesn't look good.
But when you dissect any given story, one thing I have learned being a media litigator, nothing is ever perfect. And information will come out that shows that creating a news story oftentimes like being on the floor of a sausage factory. KURTZ: Bob Zelnick, I've got about half a minute. Would you agree, basically, that nobody looks good in this case, particularly a lot of these high-profile journalists?
ZELNICK: Yes, I agree that -- I agree that nobody looks particularly good. But I disagree somewhat with what Matt said about the motivation of sources.
I covered national security for a number of years, eight years for ABC News. I used confidential sources dozens and dozens of times. And more often than not, I was the one who initiated the contact because I was trying to advance a story. It wasn't that sources were motivated by some nefarious desire to manage the news or manipulate reporters.
KURTZ: Well, I think it works both ways. Sometimes reporters initiate the contact, sometimes you get the phone call.
ZELNICK: You can't...
COOPER: I'm talking about the question of whether you protect them.
KURTZ: Once you've initiated the contact...
KURTZ: ... and once you've made that promise.
KURTZ: All right. We need to get a break here.
When we come back, is all of the media chatter about a presidential pardon for Scooter Libby out of control?
And later, Bob Woodruff talks about his recovery from a roadside bomb in Iraq and his new focus on wounded veterans.
KURTZ: Welcome back.
Seconds after the Scooter Libby verdict, it seems, the media began tossing around the word "pardon".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIZABETH VARGAS, ABC NEWS: Debate, meantime, about whether or not there will be a presidential pardon of Scooter Libby. What are the chances of that?
JOHN GIBSON, FOX NEWS: Is he really going away for 25 years, or will he get a pardon?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think he will see a day of jail. I think George Bush will pardon him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think George W. Bush will pardon him on the way out the door.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Bob Zelnick, is all this media pardon speculation out of hand? I mean, who knows what President Bush will do?
ZELNICK: No, nobody knows what he'll do, but I think the merits of the debate are interesting, because I think that this investigation should have disbanded as soon as it was clear there was no underlying violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. That was the issue, and not subordinate issues.
Now, on the other hand, he was tried, he was convicted. There's no suggestion that the trial was unfair or that the jury was biased. And perjury is a serious offense. So I am neutral on that ground, but I think strong arguments can be made on both sides.
KURTZ: It's an important debate. What I heard -- what we're hearing on cable TV is a lot of predictions that this will happen.
Matt Cooper is the only person on this set who actually faced the prospect of going to jail ver one of these things.
Are you as concerned as Lucy Dalglish that this is the wave of the future, that a lot more reporters are going to be hauled into court, slapped with subpoenas, and told, if you don't testify, you don't turn over your notes, you're heading to jail?
COOPER: Well, I have huge respect and enormous gratitude for Lucy and her organization, the Reporters Committee, that did a lot for me and other journalists...
COOPER: But, I think I'm a little more optimistic. I think most prosecutors, look, they're ambitious people. They either want to be attorney general or governor some day.
I don't think a lot of them are going to look at this and think, boy, this is a case I really want to take on. I want to be in court for a year subpoenaing journalists. I want to get criticized all over the place.
I think that sort of a social deterrence more than legal ones will continue to keep most prosecutors from wanting to go down this road, even if they're allowed to.
KURTZ: Although the "San Francisco Chronicle" reporters in the baseball steroids case almost went to jail as well.
COOPER: No, there's no question...
KURTZ: Yes. COOPER: ... I think you're going to see them, and it's a time of war and you may see more. But I don't think it will quite be a deluge.
KURTZ: But Lucy Dalglish, without any kind of federal shield law, it seems like journalists who are in this situation are kind of defenseless. And in this case they all either caved or at least found agreements they felt they could live with.
DALGLISH: Yes. I think this has added impetus to the arguments for a federal shield law. And certainly over the last couple of months, with the new Congress, we are getting a lot more of a welcoming reception from Congress than we had been in the past.
KURTZ: But do you really -- just in 10 seconds, do you really think that it's a good chance that a federal shield law is going to pass Congress in the next year or two?
DALGLISH: Yes, I do. I do.
KURTZ: OK. We'll see if you're right.
Lucy Dalglish, Matt Cooper, Bob Zelnick, thanks very much for joining us.
Ahead in the second half of RELIABLE SOURCES, wounded anchor Bob Woodruff talks about his decision to go to Iraq, his struggle to return to journalism, and what the ordeal has been like for his wife and ids.
Plus, Rudy Giuliani's son talks about his strained relations with his father and stepmother. Why did "The New York Times" think that was a story?
KURTZ: It's been 13 months since Bob Woodruff survived an encounter with a roadside bomb in Iraq, and his recovery has been nothing short of miraculous. Now he's turning his cameras on the servicemen and women with serious brain injuries. Woodruff and his wife Lee have written a book, "In An Instant: A Family's Journey of Love and Healing."
I spoke with him earlier and I began by playing a clip of one of his reports this week on ABC's "World News."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB WOODRUFF, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: VA doctors we talked to say that at the beginning of the war the VA did not predict the new types of injuries it would have to treat, and even the best in the VA were overwhelmed by the shear numbers of injured soldiers and Marines. And, Elizabeth, I have to say right now, that has to begin to change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: It sounds like you're starting to become an advocate on this issue.
WOODRUFF: You know, what's really remarkable is like when you go out and find answers to something, it's quite always important to you. And I've talked to so many doctors. I've talked to some of these families. And I think that they've really been very open to me about what they've been going through generally.
And when you've -- when you've got this remarkable help from the VAs, for example the -- I can't remember the word now -- (INAUDIBLE) that have been created to higher VA ones, like in Tampa, for example. Also, in the West, in the North, in the East, in Richmond, you know they're doing remarkable work, because these bigger VAs, they are. But when you go to a smaller VA, for example, around the country, and you're finding these people suffering through what they would hope would be much more help, they tell you the answer.
KURTZ: And suffering that you obviously are all too familiar with?
WOODRUFF: Yes, very familiar -- well, yes, that's right familiar with it. And, you know, when you meet some of the people, they'll tell you what they really want is they want more people to understand the kind of injuries that are going on in this war.
KURTZ: Do you think the press has been slow -- there's a lot of focus right now on wounded veterans and brain injuries and Walter Reed hospital and all of that. Do you think the press has been slow to recognize the magnitude of the problem in terms of care for our soldiers?
WOODRUFF: I think it's -- there hasn't been enough covering of it, of what's happening, not stories about what's happening with so many that come back with injuries. Some of it is just not understanding completely what the kind of injuries are.
For example, the traumatic brain injury, which I've gone through and I know so many, that there are so many that have TBI that have not really been discovered really until recently. They're now starting to look at those that have TBI and finding them. And that we're just now starting to learn about.
KURTZ: In January of last year you had just become the co-anchor of "ABC World News". You were on top of the world. It's the pinnacle of the profession.
Why did you want to go off to Iraq, go into a war zone, ride around in an Iraqi tank and take that risk?
WOODRUFF: Well, specifically about going to Iraq, that was the fifth time I had been to Iraq since the beginning of the war. I had been there twice before when Saddam was around, so I had been going to Iraq. I hadn't been to Iraq for -- since toward the end of 2004. So that was the first time I had been -- so I didn't go in 2005 at all. I needed to get back. The president was about to do a speech. There was talk about how the Iraqis were doing in terms of taking over some of the jobs that the U.S. military was doing. I wanted to see...
KURTZ: But wasn't it more than that? You write in your book, with your wife, Lee -- you say, it's a strange addiction covering war. You've never felt so alive as when you're in a war zone.
What is that addiction?
WOODRUFF: That's partly it, too. I think just from the very beginning I've always liked to learn about places that I otherwise wouldn't know anything about. And certainly, right now in this world, the United States needs to understand more about the world than we understand.
That's OK when we had the oceans between us and the rest of the world for so many years and had so much power out there. Now we really need to know more about the world. And to me, that's very, very important. And I'm addicted to it. There's no question. I like covering so many stories, including wars.
KURTZ: But how much of a price does your family pay? Even before you were injured, you write in the book about having to talk to your kids on the phone during these long trips overseas, and pushing way thoughts -- the everyday thoughts of being a father.
Do you have a different perspective on that now when you spend more time at home?
WOODRUFF: I think so. You know, my wife has changed her position, certainly on this particular place. Not about going overseas at all to report, but certain about going to Iraq and Afghanistan.
I've told her I'd like to go back, at least to go to Balad, for example, where they saved my life. I'd like to go back. She's said pretty strongly, don't do that.
KURTZ: Are you going to listen to her?
WOODRUFF: You know...
WOODRUFF: ... I think it's time to listen to my wife, certainly more than I did before. The one time I wanted to go over to Iraq, back in 2005, and she actually came to tears and said, "I really don't want you to go," because there was some new danger that was over there.
And I told her at that time, "OK. I'm going to give this to you." This is the first time in our marriage that you've ever said not to go and I didn't.
KURTZ: You were very close to David Bloom of NBC, who died during the 2003 invasion. And in the book, your wife, Lee Woodruff, writes of a conversation she had with your brother and a doctor in which she said, "I made him" -- that's you -- "I made him promise me when David Bloom died that he would never do that to us. And he lied to me."
WOODRUFF: Yes. I -- she said "lied". I don't think we really understand what's going to happen to us.
I mean, is there any way we can really predict that we're not going to die somehow? I mean, we could like literally go into some other place, some other country, or walk out on the street right here and not -- and not really understand what's going to happen to us.
So you can't really promise to your wife you're never going do anything where you're going to die. Now, I was very careful. When I'd go to a place like -- like Baghdad or in Iraq, or Afghanistan, and I promised her that I'd do everything I can in terms of being safer. And I missed it on this one.
KURTZ: After that bomb went off in Iraq, and all those rocks and shrapnel went into your head and your brain, and you were struggling to recover -- and we have now all seen the pictures of you trying to relearn words and your kids are helping you with the flashcards and all of that -- did you think at that time about returning to television? Did you think that you could still function as a journalist?
WOODRUFF: You know in the beginning I didn't really know exactly what I was going to do. As time came back and I started the ability to use words again, yes. That's all I wanted to do, was to be -- to go back to journalism, which is what I've wanted to do.
And so finally toward the end of the summer, which is about, I don't know, about seven months, maybe, after I woke up out of my -- out of my coma, then I started going back into the office, and to start working on the next piece that I was working. And that was really important to me.
And in fact, it was a kind of rehabilitation for me to go back in that job, to talk to people, answer questions. Just talking to you right now is always practice for me to start to speak again. I'm not nearly close back to the way I was before. People that have TBI, they don't even know -- they pretty much say you won't get 100 percent back.
KURTZ: right. Well, we're happy to help you polish your skills, which were considerable before this injury.
Is writing harder for you?
WOODRUFF: Yes, writing is harder. That's -- writing is coming back.
My ability to read, for example, I'm probably maybe a one half or one third as fast as I was before. But there was a time in the first days after I woke up, I was probably 1/100th as fast as I was before that. And I could barely read an entire sentence before I forgot the first few words of that sentence.
KURTZ: Do you ever feel ripped off? Do you ever think, you know, I had this great job, I had this great career, and this one moment, you know, inflicted this pain on me and my family, and obviously made it impossible for you to continue as anchor?
WOODRUFF: Well, I was filled with guilt from the beginning what this was doing to may family, to my wife, to my children. And I feel even to this day badly about that.
Now, doing other things, there's always a possibility of jobs generally around the world. There might be something outside of journalism that I might do, but really, realistically, I think I will continue to be a journalist, which is what I wanted to do.
So in that sense I'm lucky enough to have recovered, you know, better than a lot of the military guys that I've met. I've done -- I've done a little bit better than so many of those who have been injured in this war. Some worse, but a lot of them better.
KURTZ: It is so dangerous to cover Iraq for journalists. Two CBS crewmembers were killed last year. Kimberly Dozier, who you know, still recovering from her wounds.
Brian Williams went there this week. What do you think of the decision of another anchor to take that risk?
WOODRUFF: I think it's -- I think it's important for journalists to go to places where the stories are big. I mean, you've got to have people reporting on it.
Now, it's ultimately their decision, to make that decision about whether you're going to go or not. I don't think there's any way to say don't go to a place like that. I mean, someone's going to go.
I mean, I was -- for years, I would go to a place like Iraq and some wouldn't go. But I think it is something that needs to be reported. And I think that's going to go on as long as this war is a major story for the United States.
KURTZ: Coming back to the question I asked at the top, do you now see yourself, as well as a reporter, a correspondent, or journalist, as something of an advocate for wounded veterans who aren't getting adequate care after they've served their country?
WOODRUFF: You know, it's not so much that I'm an advocate for a certain group. But as a journalist, what I want to do is to show the truth about what is in a certain story.
I mean, I think sometimes you work for a couple of days on a story, you find certain information about it and you report it. And then you don't -- and then you move on to something else. And that story may not get as much attention that you would if you were dedicated to that one story.
I'm dedicated to this story. I mean, I lived through it, partly as myself.
Then secondly, and more importantly, I've met so many of these families that have gone through this, and they want this truth and this story to be told. And that doesn't mean that you're against the war or for the war. You just want to know more about how they're being treated. And to me that's the most important story for me right now.
KURTZ: Is it hard for you, Bob, to open yourself up like this, to talk about your innermost feelings, the recovery, and listen to your wife say she was angry with you and how she suffered? Is it hard to expose yourself
WOODRUFF: In the books that we wrote, for example?
KURTZ: Even talking to me now?
WOODRUFF: You know, I don't know. I think in some ways I've opened a lot more even since this happened. I think I am more comfortable about telling stories about what we are going through, my wife and I, my family, what's happened in our life, and what I want to report on and what I want to do. I think that's a little bit easier for me to talk about than it was before.
KURTZ: Bob Woodruff, I am so happy to have you back here, to have you functioning as a journalist again, to be able to talk to you like this.
Thanks very much for joining us.
WOODRUFF: It's great to see you.
KURTZ: Bob Woodruff. Coming up, the media, Rudy Giuliani, and the limits of privacy.
Stay with us.
KURTZ: Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign hit a speed bump this week when "The New York Times" reported that he had been estranged from his son Andrew. Twenty-one-year-old Andrew told the paper that he is trying to reconcile with his father, who divorced his mother, Donna Hanover, while serving as mayor, but that the young man has problems with Giuliani's new wife, Judith Nathan.
The question came up on the campaign trail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe that these problems with blended families, you know, are challenges. Sometimes they are. And the challenges are best worked on privately. In other words, the more privacy I can have for my family, the better we're going to be able to deal with all of these difficulties.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining us now, Michael Goodwin, columnist for "The New York Daily News," and Adam Nagourney, national political correspondent for "The New York Times."
Michael Goodwin, you wrote, "Voters will never give the White House to a man who has caused such pain to his children."
Did you feel uncomfortable writing about this and getting into Giuliani's private life?
MICHAEL GOODWIN, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": No. I mean, I think that's the theory about why this could matter to some people. I don't personally share that feeling. I do think though that it is fair game for voters to know pretty much everything about a presidential candidate, and particular in this case.
As you cited, Andrew Giuliani is 21. So although I had some qualms about writing about the story, because it is kind of an icky story, I think ultimately the voters do have a right to know this. And I think it's got to be something that voters everywhere will kind of put in the hopper and weigh it with other things and decide, you know, how to vote.
KURTZ: Adam Nagourney, this was not your story in "The New York Times," but, you know, kids have problems with parents and stepparents all the time.
So, why is this worthy of media scrutiny?
ADAM NAGOURNEY, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I have to echo Michael on this. I think that when it comes to someone who is running for president, pretty much everything is fair game.
I don't mean invasion of privacy, but I think that for newspapers to do their jobs correctly, you want to tell voters, prospective voters, everything you can about these men or women who want to be president, and that includes details of their family life. You know, again, Andrew is 21, and as far as I know, he spoke to the paper totally voluntarily. I think this is a very appropriate story, and it's just one of many things that I think voters should know about in trying to assess whether or not they want to vote for Rudy Giuliani to be president.
KURTZ: Does it matter, Adam Nagourney, that Giuliani in past campaigns used his kids in pictures and appearances? You know, is that something we should take into account about whether -- what's fair game?
NAGOURNEY: I think what you find often is editors and journalists and journalist advocates will point to that as an excuse for doing this, which is fine. But I'm saying, even beyond that, even if he hadn't done that, I would still say the same thing. I mean, I think this is just part of -- president, more than any other office, I think, more than governor, more than member of Congress, more than mayor, is a lot about character. And people need to know about a person's character.
I'm not making any judgment here about Mayor Giuliani or his character at all. I'm just saying that all these things help you understand this man. So I think even beyond the point you're making, I think this is -- I just think this is a legitimate part of journalistic inquiry.
KURTZ: But it seems to some people, Mike Goodwin, that the press has made this campaign about the Clintons' marriage, Giuliani's family, that we really spend more time on the personal than perhaps on the positions of the candidates themselves.
GOODWIN: Right. I do think it can get carried away, and I think you saw an example of that, two examples, really, just recently where Newt Gingrich confessed to an affair that's about 10 years old, and Barack Obama started paying parking tickets that were 17 years old.
So I think that everybody is kind of cleaning up the past and getting ready to run. I am hopeful that we will get this stuff out this year, so that next year will be a real campaign about the real issues -- about Iraq, about Iran, about jobs, about education, all of the issues that trouble America today. I think perhaps we'll finally get to them after we get this stuff out of the way.
KURTZ: All right.
Well, Adam Nagourney, the New York press corps seems to be reminding us about what Giuliani did as -- during his two terms as mayor, sometimes referring to what they call the 9/10 Rudy, before he became such a national figure after the September 11th attacks.
You had a piece this week in which you questioned whether Rudy is too New York for the rest of the country. You wrote, "He is swaggering, brash and opinionated and loves to stick his thumb in the eye of conventional political norms, but he can also be temperamental, controlling, capricious, volatile and, in the words of Edward Koch, 'mean-spirited.'"
Why does the former mayor get such different coverage from the New York press corps than from the rest of the country?
NAGOURNEY: I think you wrote a story about this. It's interesting. People who covered him in New York have a much different perspective of him than people who are just getting to know him now, just because we know him in New York.
The point I was trying to make in that story is that I think character traits, behavior, ways of sort of approaching the world that are, shall I say, applauded in New York, at least accepted in New York, might be more problematic in other parts of the country. And I think that's one of the big questions. Now, Mayor Giuliani's people say that he's, you know, changed, he got older, he's mellower. He certainly has control, and maybe he's a different kind of candidate now. But I do have to wonder whether the kind of Mayor Giuliani that we saw, to use this new cliche, pre-9/10, will sell well with the rest of the country, assuming people get to see it.
In other words, it's not just -- you know, everyone talks about, you know, his positions on abortion and gay rights and gun control. I mean, I think that stuff is problematic in conservative primaries.
KURTZ: Sure. But it's about...
NAGOURNEY: This is more cultural stuff. And I say that about someone who is a brash, swaggering New Yorker. And proud of it.
KURTZ: We'll put you down in the brash and swaggering category.
KURTZ: Michael Goodwin, you mentioned Newt Gingrich. He went on James Dobson's radio show, "Focus on the Family," had this to say about what he was doing in 1998 when he was leading the charge against Clinton's impeachment.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DR. JAMES DOBSON, FOCUS ON THE FAMILY": I asked you if the rumors were true that you were in an affair with a woman obviously who wasn't your wife at the same time that Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky were having their escapade.
NEWT GINGRICH, FMR. HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, the fact is, the honest answer is yes.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
KURTZ: I've got about half a minute here, Michael Goodwin. Should this be a big story?
GOODWIN: No. I mean, I think it's an appropriate story, however. And I think it's interesting that Dobson asked the question. And I think that Gingrich sort of felt compelled to confess, I think, is a sign of the times. And also, I think, is a sign that he is going to run and he doesn't want this thing sprung on him later in the campaign.
So I actually don't think these things are disastrous for candidates, by and large.
KURTZ: All right.
GOODWIN: I think that -- that people will make their judgments on the whole person.
KURTZ: OK. We've got to go. What's interesting is that it's been a big television story, but very, very little coverage in the newspapers.
We hope we'll have you back.
Michael Goodwin, Adam Nagourney, thanks for joining us this morning.
Up next, a new form of corporate espionage. We'll tell you how Wal-Mart went after "The New York Times" in a moment.
KURTZ: Before we go, some important media news.
As the nation's largest retailer, Wal-Mart doesn't always get the best press. And that may have caused some in the company to view journalists as the enemy.
KURTZ (voice over): Wal-Mart acknowledged this week that an employee secretly taped phone conversations with a "New York Times" reporter, Michael Barbaro, and also intercepted pager and text messages. Barbaro had been writing critical stories based on internal company documents.
Wal-Mart chief H. Lee Scott has apologized to "The Times" and fired the employee and his supervisor. Federal prosecutors are investigating.
This seems to be a pattern. Hewlett-Packard executives resigned last year after admitting that their agents obtained the personal phone records of reporters.
KURTZ: "The New York Times," meanwhile, had to run an editor's note this week disclosing some questionable behavior by a former reporter.
KURTZ (voice over): Kurt Eichenwald exposed an Internet porn ring based on lengthy interviews with a teenager, Justin Berry, who had been posing news in front of a Web cam. Eichenwald became friendly with Berry and persuaded him to become a federal informant. But this week "The Times" said that Eichenwald had paid Justin Berry $2,000 without telling his editors. Eichenwald says he was just trying to help a troubled teen before deciding to write about him and that the money was repaid.
KURTZ: That's it for this edition of RELIABLE SOURCES.
I'm Howard Kurtz.
Thanks for watching.
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