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tv   Book TV After Words  CSPAN  February 21, 2011 12:00am-1:00am EST

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franklin, vernon jordan, spike lee, attorney general eric holder, federal judges, ministers, every -- doctors -- and it just amazes me how many people had encounters with racial profiling and none of them did anything because they don't want a million dollars, they don't want to set a section of a lawsuit, they simply wanted an apology. and i say that to say you can use these stories to remind other people there is and hopelessness, but people who find themselves victimized by racial profiling can then tell their story and get other people to respond to it. >> thank you very much for your time. ..
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>> guest: because i had a 40 year-long career in broadcast journalism. i don't think anybody else in history. [laughter] has that distinction. hough i wanted to tell my story because it had lessons, pain, humor, a lot of experiences and i just
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wanted to put them down. i left the station not a happy person. it was a mutual partied of the ways but then i thought now what will i do? i decided the first thing you wanted to do was start writing everything that happened and it was a real catharsis, you should have see me right king. i would write a story and then i would start crying. it was so painful. i would have to stop them and get myself together. it was a very difficult process to relive all of those experiences. >> host: with that process you say you did have majored also you could go back it to look at the journal's. tell me more about the writing process of getting this together. >> some time ago when i was
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into the women's liberation movement in the early '70s coming nbc was in a lawsuit for the lack of women being hired. remember, you don't remember. [laughter] but in the '70s women were making their voices heard after the civil-rights movement that we're not getting jobs or promotions are into the corporate suites so all women were raising issues. i remember when, although i was not party but when it was filed, they suggested that women who write down things. they were talking about incidents that may have happened to you. but every day i wrote down what i did and what had happened that day.
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back in 1974 when i began from network television i have times and dates and everything with everything that happened to me. it was a good exercise to relive those things and and no where to find them. >> it is always about duration and also reflection. what did you learn about yourself? >> guest: i felt better about myself when i took the full measure of my career. i do not want to sound immodest, but i was like gee, i did do a lot. [laughter] i really did. that felt really good and i was hoping to continue to make a difference and hopefully people could get some things out of it.
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>> host: and publishing this? >> i took it to the literary agent and they said nobody wanted to publish it. one of the themes of my book people kept telling me know all from my career. you cannot be a journalist. no. you cannot be whitehouse correspondent. i used to use those to just get energy from them. do not tell me know when i know i am prepared and capable. the same thing happened with the book and somebody was telling me know again. we will not publish your book. i was like the little red hen who asked everybody to help her plant per week then she said i will do it myself. i did it ñ myself. >> host: let's ñ go back
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where did you grow up? >> guest: chicago. ñ ñ mike cannot -- kind of town i ñ love it. >> host: what did your parents do? >> my mother was a seamstress but did not finished the ninth grade and took up selling for wealthy white women and my dad was a mail carrier. we were working class people. >> host: one of the > things that you talk about is the ñ early experience is to > realize what race was about and lessons of part tint by your mother. >> guest: my mother was mulatto and very beautiful. when she was 13 years old, her white father was asked by a white man to give her to him and said if you don't, i will take kerr and in the early 1900's that is what happened if you wanted a young black girl, you got
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her. so he sent her to chicago to his half-brother the following morning and sat by the door with a shotgun. she went to chicago and lived in the segregated south and when she had children, she taught me about race proprieties check course on household diversity at emerson and white people don't think about them being white. they pointed that out. but black people always think about being black and how am i representing myself or how are people feeling me? two 1/2 to fear going into this situation? she taught me that would have been and i have to know how to deal with it and i should never let anybody tell me i was not as good as anybody else and i think her
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for that lesson because i don't know what i would have been lowered done if she had not pressed me or pressed me. you be the best. that live with me. the parents influence is so > > amazing. > > >> host: and then you troubled down south. tell me what happens on that road trip down south. >> guest: it was so awful. i wrote group in the integrated situation although we had a large black family, i knew who and what i was but i had never been to the south. we were driving to relatives wedding and to see my a grandfather down in washington georgette. my parents decided they would take me on a nice drive and go through the great smoky mountain national park. i had never seen mountains
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before. i was so excited. when we got through kentucky and into tennessee we needed a place to stay and trying to get a motel. there were a vacancy signs every where and my dad would come into the office and say they say they have no vacancy. i said look at this time. i was "newslady." [laughter] the sign the says a vacancy and daddy said we will find some place else. we went down the entire highway with photos on both sides and nobody would grant us a room and we slept in the car. i did not understand why we had to go through that. then daddy wanted to get coffee in the morning before we went into the smoky mountain national park. he went into a cafe sit for
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a diner or a little tiny place. he wanted to throw his thermos and get me some out. he went into the store i saw the sign on the door that said no catholics, and new shoes, no dogs and no teethirty allowed. i am using the n word but that is what it said. i had never heard the word pro she said they are talking about black people. us? and then it turned out he went in the wrong door and was sent to the back of the store where he got his coffee and milk he could not get milk for me because that was the front of the store.
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so i drink coffee. my first episode as a child. [laughter] then we get to into the park, a beautiful, a mountainous, spectacular, i just loved them with the haze on them. we went to the observation deck i was running around, just having the best time. you could see seven states from up there. i saw a water fountain and i was thirsty i went to drink and a white woman jerked me buy the army and said you don't drink there. i was so stunned by how she was treating me and she dragged me around to the back where there was a colored to sign a and it was dirty and the spigot had gum stuck into it and
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again, what is this? so i run to my mother and father crying because she was so mean to me and what do those signs mean? what is that about? that is what i realized where segregation was and white people got to drink from a pretty fountain and the of black people had to drink from a spigot with bubbling water coming out. it was a sad sad day for me because while i was told about i never seen or experienced it. it changed my life. >> host: how did you take those experience is back to chicago? you went to integrated high-school and what was race like that of high-school for you?
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>> i was very active. so i have a lot of context with white students and i was in the glee club band on mr. mckown sold or in the plays and i did not hang out with just black kids prepare our was intermixed. i looked at them in a different way because as my parents explain the superior attitude of white privilege and what it is about i had to look at my friends although they had never treated me any differently but the idea that white people can do things that i cannot do was more than i could abide. i don't think i was quite as friendly as i had been 571 of the things that you did do it in your junior year decided to join the newspaper. what led you to that?
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>> guest: i had an english teacher who said i wrote very well. it is funny. about five years ago i got a letter from a teacher that i had in eighth grade in chicago. she save one of my papers that i have written about thanksgiving. she must have really liked the paper. she mailed it to me to say i have kept this all these years because it is one of the best papers i had gotten from a student and i read the paper and i thought why? i was really good. [laughter] >> host: the blessings of thanksgiving. >> guest: i don't know. but. >> host: is it on your refrigerator? >> guest: it is in a box with my memorabilia but it was remarkable she had saved that.
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but apparently i did write pretty well and the english teacher said joined a high-school newspaper. i never thought of for a team. i was in a lot of plays. i'd like to acting now i am grateful because that helped me as a television broadcaster learning how to project your voice, not be afraid to and also to speak. they gave me a column called the division news. they were not called homerooms but i had to go around to all of the home rooms and interview people what was going on with the people in that homeroom. [laughter] sort i'd like the gossip column who won the science fair, but i enjoyed so much
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having access to go around to the room to talk to the teachers and students before anybody else and then write them up and see my byline? [laughter] it did say he the experience. >> host: you make the decision. >> guest: i am loved it. the attention and the access and people coming up to be an end and as a child i read a lot. i wasn't a little nerdy but it worked with the reading, writing, access and being able to ask questions it was just wonderful and i said this is what i want to do.
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did i know anybody black who was a reporter? did they know anybody that was a white woman who was a reporter? all i knew was lois lane from superman. [laughter] but i knew there was a "chicago tribune" and chicago sun times they were all great newspapers at the time and my parents were avid newspaper readers. so to see the byline sayre and everyboby was covering things about mergers and liars and politics. i decided i had to do that. >> host: you go and tell your parents you want a career as a journalist. what do they say? [laughter] silly girl broke silly little girl.
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you cannot be a journalist. women don't do that. certainly black women don't do that. you need to go become a teacher. so you can take care of yourself. you can always get a teaching job but we don't want to spend tuition. it was a struggle to get my tuition together. you need to be a teacher or a nurse or social worker. that is all the things women in the early '60s could aspire to. i said no. i don't want to do that. i really want to do this. there was a lot of fights in my household and slamming of my door and putting my foot down. again, no. no you cannot do this broker are was determined and finally they saw i was not going to be happy are a good
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person they supported me and i thank god for having supportive parents who did not go to college but made sure my sister and i did. >> host: been you hear your second of many knows when you apply to northwestern. >> guest: northwestern was outside of chicago and at the time it was one of the best journalism schools in the country and i had great praise -- grades with all kinds of activities and a b + average from high-school. i applied to northwestern and little did i know there was a quota system and to know they egg knowledge it but there was a number of blacks and jews they would
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take to the college. i went to the admissions counselor who said was wasting my time. that i needed to become a nice english teacher. but would never get ed job working for "the chicago tribune." i knew what would happen and i got the rejection notice a few weeks later. we regret to inform you that. i remember those first words. a thin envelope with no forms to fill out, no housing, a tiny letter. my parents thank god did not say we told you so price said i am applying someplace else. >> host: you do that and eventually graduating from where? >> university of michigan and why do one the year?
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[laughter] >> host: never mind. >> guest: 1962. >> host: you did well in school. >> guest: i did well in school again. there were 60 graduates in my class from journalism and everyone had a job at graduation except me. >> host: the little red hen did not have a job. >> i went to work at the chicago public library where i had worked every summer since i was 15 years old. i have a degree and i go back to my high school and college summer job. i was disappointed but i felt something is going to happen. and i got a call from the dean at the school saying he had lined up the internship for me. it did not look good for the university who did not have a job so he worked very hard
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to make that happen and that is how i ended up at tuskegee. >> host: tell us about that. what is going on in? >> oh boy. i was there for everything. when george wallace stood been the schoolhouse doors at the university of alabama, selma, burning -- b irmingham, fire hoses and the dogs and that was happening so close to me and i am a little girl 10 of 5,000 people in the middle of nowhere alabama. but we saw the news and you had to watch the national news because local lose did not do a good job to cover the movement. i felt that i was not demonstrating or part of the movement. that i should have been out there but then i was like i
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want to be a journalist. >> host: you did not join because he wanted to maintain the objectivity. >> yes. it changed me again because i was in the north and now i knew what segregated life was like. i lived under segregation. a young guy asked me to remove the in tuskegee there was one little theater there. he said we will have to cut their own popcorn to bring it there and buy some candy bars because we cannot go down on the first floor where the concession stand was a and the black people had to sit up on the balcony. i said no. i am not doing it.
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i will not go into a segregated facility. i had to go to mike ray alabama it to shop and they would not let you try on clothes. there was a dressing room for white ladies and white men and a color dressing room in which the fed coming women come and children had to change clothes. and i would not abide by the segregated dressing room. you would have to hold up close to see if it would fit. i could not stand in this. it is crazy like i was on another planet. i would end up doing catalog shopping or my mother would send the stuff from chicago because i could not go back into that the atmosphere and the horrible things shock to the me as i walk down the street by young white men. i will not repeat them but
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you can imagine they were nasty and hurtful. i just hated the south. i came to hate the south. and southern people. i was very radical about my feelings about the south. but it made me do this stuff that made the difference because i didn't demonstrate but those who died or imprisoned i felt i had to do something for my people or to make things better. i was determined i would work where for was to try to make seeing this improve conditions for black people
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that is why it ended up being very outspoken about the lack of blacks a corporate office is in producers and women producers and all of those things. but largely based on that experience in the south and feeling helpless and decided i have to do something where i can. >> host: you finally leave the south and go back up north first two iowa then plant back in chicago. what was going on and then also the radio job. >> i wanted to be a press reporter. the difference between 62 and 65 was an amazing length of time. what had happened.
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and in chicago and the civil-rights movement was growing in the south. people were making demands for construction or getting into the trade unions so the black people were sought out to be reporters. you apply it to be on tv? people said you will not cover our e benz unless you send black reporters. i don't know how many of us would have entered the profession that early. but if i had jobs from all over and i was getting a job offers all of a sudden my a sex and color that was a handicapped was now and the advantage provide to a good job for a huge radio station, 100,000 watts heard
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on the east coast. and became the first woman to broadcast news in chicago. i change from% to broadcast while i was at the university of iowa graduate school, i joined the radio station and thought i would try that. >> and you have the voice. [laughter] >> guest: again that developed from the drum up. it is funny how things fall into place. i was on the radio and they said you sound really good. i said who said that? where are the market studies that show that and who kept us out of certain jobs? but i loved radio because of the intimacy come i you, the audience, the story you
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cover, we tell that to to them. imf radio but for all the offers i got to work for a big station in chicago. >> host: you may have been happy there and making history as the first black woman on radio, but your colleagues were not happy to have you there. >> guest: no. it was a big news department for a radio station, there were 14 of us reporters. they did not want me there. they were upset that i was there. they would think what is she coming for parks i have not worked my way up to a great big station in chicago at this time the second biggest market before los angeles
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grew and chicago was the second city. they resented the fact i was hired. day set out, i believe it was a conspiracy, out to make me fe o or mess up four have management have the excuse to get to rid of me like sending me to a news conference are being assigned a news conference that happened one hour before it was happening and coming back empty-handed having the news directors say, it sounded so lame, they told me, but that is where it was part of they would open the door and someone would make be stopped when i was doing.
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but i was giving a newscast and couldn't. they threw rubber to rancho's on the desk and set my papers on fire. when you're on the year they would come in you cannot say whether you doing in here, but they would stand behind to me and snatched i learned very early how to get around by saying repeating our top story. [laughter] i would lynch drag it out because i had written them, i knew them so i could add live some of the stories. what they did when they tried to mess up is give me more focused. >> host: and make you better to one but if i am on the air, you heard have been
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the focus nothing could shake me. >> host: we will take a break and we will be back with carole simpson
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>> host: we are back with carole simpson. tell me who you meet in 19662 changes your life and career 21 yes. dr. martin luther king it. i had watched the been of them the plant area think that his speech in washington and come i have a
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dream, 1/2 by a would never thought i had an opportunity to meet him. but he announced from atlanta they he was going north to chicago to five segregation in chicago book of all the reporters are trying to find out the mayor of this city of chicago was horrified ask my news director can i have this story? they said he is black and she is black. probably. [laughter] and i went to o'hare airport 18 for the planes coming from atlanta with the other
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reporters, tv crews going from place to place and never are writing anywhere. i found out from a ticket agent that he was taken off the back of the plane and into a car on the tarmac and away from us. [laughter] most of the reporters will say in a hotel when he frequented when he came to downtown chicago. if he is this guarded and is now want to anybody to know he will stay here close to the airport to. i started by myself from all of from the airport and i am
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not so silly i say is dr. king here as if he would be registered as dr. king lab that he would be mr. green. people would say no, about one of the hotels, some think that i got from body language but the way she said it i believe to. when she wasn't looking i stopped 92 and looking up the corridor source fortunately it was a long hotel and it was just one line. >> you could prompt the elevator to see if there was any activity with his lieutenants.
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i get to the seventh floor and i see all of the black men and so i start heading that way and they sit down lady? i said i want to get an interview. sure. no problem. [laughter] they said it dr. king is not giving any interviews price that i am here why is a coming to chicago? >> he is having a press conference 10:00 in the morning and you will find out along with everybody else. >> that did not make me happy so i decided i would stay by the elevator and he would have to get past me whenever he went anywhere. i could get to him but if not for the palace guard i may be able to get through to him.
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i had newspapers, i got a diet coke and it was probably tab. [laughter] i don't think there was diet coke. [laughter] and i sat down on the marble floor sitting on my coke to. it was winter. i waited starting at 7:00 in the evening and they just how go back and forth people coming and going and ralph and they were all there. so all night i waited a man came out at midnight and said you and lady go home because dr. king will not talk to you tonight.
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just go to the news conference. i said no. i am determined to see him and i will state. okay. all night long, i don't know how, i was aching all over and sitting on the hard floor i see dr. keying coming my way and i could not tell you, like a halo like a god was coming my way. i straightened myself up and tried to press might year down he says they use a long wait patiently they're telling me about? i said yes, sir. >> have you been here all my? >> cancer. i had to see you.
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could, i am leon, the zero lead negro reporter and it would be so fantastic but you could tell me why you are here. >> can't says he admires the perseverance he got to close that the housing segregation coming in this city of chicago which is why it is the most segregated city in america. really? it would be a direct challenge and said don't tell anybody. [laughter] what? had he gave me a wink kind of a and got onto the elevator and said good luck, young lady, i think you will go far.
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he gave me such a boost, i ran to the telephone and reported the story and it was picked up by the network and everybody else was reporting the ap wires but dr. king is here so i went to the news conference after doing reports after having get to the story and saw the and the audience and winked at me. [laughter] he put me on the map because no longer. >> host: that you make the switch to tv and delay and and tell me about that experience.
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>> that nbc come i was nine years in local news before i hit the networks. they wanted reporter's comment now they don't care, but very young women but they wanted you to be solid to have a lot of experience before you went to the network. i had been named in chicago and they wanted to hire me and move me to washington d.c. which was my dream because now i would not being reporting on thain this as boring as chicago but but that is what they offered me. my a dream job i am not getting any assignments.
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i the further is hhs health and human resources. hhs health be nervous grievances so i came up with phidias and testing and nobody wanted them. the network, the nightly news, the "today show", i thought what is going on and i was doing interviews for other people's packages for hour i had the best of the network so of this went on for about eight or nine months and i was miserable. i was not doing anything, i was not called upon. this is not what i imagined. by am i not at the white house? a friend of mine went to london and visited our old
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news director in chicago and said what is carole doing? the word is she went to washington and got lazy. thing god she came home and reported her telephone conversation to me and i went desert. you can call me ugly. [laughter] stupid. but do not call me lazy. that is not what i am. it was so pejorative and labeled with the black people i went crazy i immediately went into the bureau chief and said it is across the atlantic ocean that i am lazy and i do stand a whole network thinks i am lazy. i want out of the contract. i am leaving what you talking about? and he claimed to not to have heard any of this and
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said don't worry we do not want you to leave. i will look into this. that night at 9:00 i got an assignment i knew would get on the air and of course, the next day i was on the air and it just showed me how people can make things happen if they want to make them have been. so i vowed to find out what was that had started the rumor and i had called everybody i had worked with in chicago now at the network. you know, i am not lazy. every time you hear that will you promise me that you know, carole why would i come here to be lazy for my dream job? it took me two years to find out who it was.
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i made him pay. [laughter] i made him pay. i told people who it was. but it is the old boy network. they still supported him. he may have been chastised your reprimanded something formal common no suspension, he was still there. i did everything i could to undermine him in any way that i could and the way people tried to undermine me. >> then you decide to go to abc. >> guest: not decide. i was offered money come with a great television producer running back, the
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news department started to take people from other networks to get the best talent and we call it the almost broadcasting company when i was at nbc and he was determined to build it into a force so he hired me away from nbc and i was happy to go, the more money comment and fed is where i spent most of my career's what about the treatment of women? >> it was real bad. we started to get together socially. i found the women add to abc her not even talking to each
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other. they had set them up as competitors toward each other, not competitive with the men but toward each other so who would get the good assignments or not? we started to get together socially to talk about things and they always ended up with what happened at work and we realize there was no women were senior producers of any shows are executive producers or beer chief horror foreign correspondent noblemen and a major beats in washington and that is what house our congress and we were being denied opportunities. why? we needed to bring that to the attention. there were talk about this.
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i was chosen to be the spokes person because nobody else wanted to be. we made an astounding presentation to do content analysis and how many there were, how many women. >> one said that have never really thought about it. but he did and they give him credit to for making changes based on the presentation. >> and their results? the changes were made there. >> they were. a vice president woman and i became an anchor for the weekend news. a woman assigned to the white house and if
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you're -- foreign bureaucrats names and we also found out when they were making $30,000 less as men as producers doing exactly the same job and having the same survey and could do a a salary and that is still in place but that is so bland men are not starting off with their hand behind them. they have made a lot of progress. there were vice presidents overseas but there were there were? but we have not broken through it yet to to have a president of a network. >> host: while there come a you were doing double duty
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and a gerber also a correspondent during the weeknights.hc÷
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i was chosen to do the debate because there was criticism of the previous debate that there were no people of color. they got a two fir with me being african-american and a woman and abc's said give us somebody to moderate the debate you think they would have chosen me? it would have been peter jennings or ted koppel or diane sawyer i would have been down on the list but i was chosen by the campaign and the bipartisan commission on presidential debates and i covered clinton and george h. w. bush for eight years and i knew him very well and if they approved of my being fell moderator. it was very scary to me because it was a town hall format and we had not had
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one of those before. they were panels of reporters asking questions of the candidates. there were no film site could go back to look at to see how you do this. so it was on the job training buy i was seen by 91 million people. i go overseas and people still remember me because they were watching. their bread soup to was sole the director could spot me and a crowd. of buy was in a dark suits and like the candidates that would be hard. i do love red and they asked me. >> host: 1996 was the year that you felt things started to go south that abc tell me about that time. >> guest: do you want to
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make me cry again? >> host: we have to issue. >> guest: you are trying to make me cry. there were two people at abc that i think began to put the knife into me. one of them was a white woman who was executive producer of my we can show. the other was a black man who was a producer of my weekend show. it hurts me to find out that the people that the gay and good to bring in of carole was a white woman and a black man and the people i had worked 30 years to get into the jobs. i cannot tell you how much that hurt. like you owe your job to me because i put my job on the
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line. you would do this to me? that began and the president passed away and a new president of abc who did not like me as much as deal president did and he said she does not add live well. i am ad libbing this o hour with you. [laughter] don't you think i can add liv? said i was getting slow, and you cannot say age because of the ada law with the age discrimination act. it was things like that. she is not feeling well. why did she travel and from
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washington every we can start the day after traveling and? but s soon as the red light came on, i was fine. if you tell me i am alive. i am ready to go. but it was very hurtful that i thought racism and five -- bought sexism and here was ageism with a subtle comments about my performance. they wanted to bring some new talent along and prepare them for the network. i had done a show 15 years which is a long time with tv but i felt they would not have told peter jennings that doing it over 27 years but comment they made an
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offer i could refuse, the insulting offer to stay at the network can not do the news anymore. i said no. i will not make at that easy for you. no. i will stay here and make you deal with the longer. i stayed three years longer. i was put out to pasture. not doing a lot, but during that time i was planning for next phase of my life. what will i do? i moved to boston to be near my grandchildren. >> host: tell us about your family. the work life balance you had to manage. you are working-- wearing three hats. my father was a career man and there were social activities with him, i had to do my career to be the best possible and i had
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children in a home and i was buying their shoes when the feet got too big. sometimes it was an awful juggling act and i wanted to be the best of all of them and i tried but it is tough. i want women to know it is tough. you think you can do it all but it is very hard. >> host: looking at television news today, what do you see? are the changes that you push for are evident today? >> guest: no. i don't. you see lots of women on tv, cable networks. but one would think women are doing amazingly well. but they're not making fed decisions. they are not hir


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