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tv   Book TV After Words  CSPAN  February 27, 2011 12:00pm-1:00pm EST

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♪ >> coming up next, book tv presents "after words," an hourlong program where we invite guest hosts to interview all others. a veteran journalist carol simpson discusses her memoir, "newslady." in it she details her 40-year career as a crowning -- climbing the ranks in a white
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male-dominated profession. she joins abc news sharing her story with nia-malika henderson of the washington post. >> host: i'm bsn cent. it will come. great to have you here. you have written a book, your autobiography, "newslady." i want to start out asking you why you decided to back this book. >> guest: because, i had a 40 year long career in broadcast journalism. i don't think anybody else in history has that distinction, and i wanted to tell my story because i thought it had lessons. i thought it had pain. i thought it had humor. i have had lots of experiences, and i just wanted to put them down. i've left abc not a happy perso.
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it was a mutual parting of ways. then i was, like, now, when michael and to do? a decided the first and i want to do was to start writing everything that happened. it was a real catharsis. you should have seen me riding. i would write a story. i was typing on my computer. an abbott start crying. it was so painful, and i remember the pain. i would have to stop and get myself together and come back and write again. so it was of very difficult process to relive all of those experiences. >> host: in that process, because i think at one point you said you did have channels, so you were able to go back and look at them. tell me more about the writing process. >> guest: well, sometime ago when i was very into the women's liberation movement in the early
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70's and it in b.c. filed a lawsuit for the lack of women that are being hired. remember it -- well, you don't remember. in the 70's women were making their voices heard after the civil rights movement. hey, we are not getting jobs, and we are not giving promotions. we are not getting into corporate suites. in all fields, all kinds of women raising issues. i remember when that lawsuit was filed, although i was not party to it. according to newspaper stories, they suggested that man right down things, you know. they were talking about incidents that may happen to you. but every day i wrote down what i did and what had happened that day. it stated back to 1974 when i began network television. i was able to of really have
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everything of all kinds of things that happened to me. so it was just a good exercise in, you know, reliving those things and knowing where to find them. >> host: right. and the purpose of writing a memoir is always about one part narration, but also a reflection. what did you learn about yourself in writing this? >> guest: you know, i felt better about myself. when i took the full measure of my career -- i don't want to sound immodest, but i was like, gee, i really did do a lot. i've really did make a difference. that felt really good. then i was hoping to continue to make a difference by writing the book and hopefully people could get some things out of it that they could use in their workplaces. >> host: and you decided to self published this.
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>> guest: because i took it to literary agents. they said nobody wanted to publish it. one of the things in my book is that people kept telling me know all throughout my career. no, you can't be a journalist. no, you can't anchor the news. no, you can't beat the white house correspondent. i used to use those like vitamin pills and just get an energy from them. don't tell me know when i know i am prepared and that i am capable and so on. so the same thing happened with the book. somebody was telling me know again. we are not going to publish your book. so i was like the little red hen who asked everybody to help her plantar week, and nobody would. then she said, well, i'll do it6 myself. > i did it myself. > > > > >> > host: let's go back to europe beginning. ñ ñ ñ ñ where did you ñ grow up?
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>> guest: chicago. ñ ñ ñ a private town, chicago. i love it. >> host: your parents did what? >> guest: my mother was a seamstress. she did not finish ninth grade she took in selling for wealthy white women. > dad was a mail carrier. > > > >> host: one of the things you talk about in the book is early> experiences in realizing what >> race was about and less is imparted by your mother around race. >> guest: my mother was a model. a very beautiful. when she was 13 years old her white father was asked by a white man in town to give her to him. they said, if you don't give her to me i'm going to take care. of course in the early 1900's that is what happened. if you wanted a young black girl you got her. so he sent her to chicago to his
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half-brother. he put her on a trend the following morning and sat by the door to keep this man from getting his oldest daughter. she went to chicago. she had lived in a segregated south. when she had children she taught me about race. i teach, of course, and cultural diversity at emerson college in boston. white people don't ever think about there being white. the point that out, but black people always think about being black and how they are representing themselves. how people are viewing them. to i have to if you're going into the situation because of my skin color? so she taught me that was going to happen and that i had to know how to deal with it and that i should never let anybody tell me i was not as scared as anyone else. you know, i think her for that
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lesson. i don't know what i would have been or done had she not pressed me. you can do it. you be the best. and so that lived with me. > ñ > a parents' influence is just sou amazing. >> host: in -- indeed. at some point you travel down south. tell me what happens all upper trip. >> it was -- it was so awful. i grew up in an integrated situation in chicago. although we had a large black family. i knew who i was and what i was, but i had never been to the south. we were driving to a relative's wedding to see my grandfather down in washington, georgia. my parents decided that they would take me on this nice drive and go through the great smoky mountain national park. i had never seen mountains before coming from the flatlands of illinois. so i was so excited.
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when we got through kentucky and into tennessee we needed a place to stay. we were trying to get a motel, and there were vacancy signs everywhere. my dad would go in the office and come out saying, they say they have no vacancy. i was like, well, the sign. i was 11. [laughter] i said, the sign says vacancy. daddy said, will find someplace else. we went down this entire highway. motels on both sides. no one but rent as a room. we slept in the car cramped up. i did not understand why we had to be -- while we had to go through that. then daddy wanted to get some coffee in the morning before we went into the smoky mountain national park. he went to a cafe. i don't know, a diner. of little, tiny place.
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he wanted to fill his thermos of coffee and get me some milk. well, he went into the store. i saw a sign on the door that says no catholics, not jews, no dogs, and no knickers allowed. i am using the n word, but that is what it said. i asked my mother, i had never heard that word. i said, what is that? and she said, they are talking about black people. i said, as? and she said, yap. my dad went in the wrong door. he should have gone around the back. he was sent to the back of the store where he got his coffee and he got some milk. he could not get not for me because it was in the front of the store, and it would not let him go in the front of the store. i got coffee.
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and then we get into the part, this beautiful mountainous spectacular smoky mountains. i just loved them. the haze. we went to the observation deck on the highest peak, and i was running around and running around just having the best time. you could see seven states from up there. and i saw a lot of fountain. i was thirsty. i went to drink. a white woman grabbed me, jerked me by the arm and said, you don't drink there. i was so stunned by how she was treating me. she dragged me a round to the back where there was a . it was 30. this ticket has become stuck all and it. again, i had never -- what is
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this? this white -- i am running to my mother and father crying because she had been some mean to me. what does that signing? what is that all about? and so that is where i realized what segregation was. white people got to drink from the party, white fountain, and black people had to drink from this spigot, not a real fountain with water coming out. so, it was -- it was a sad, sad day for me because, as i said, while i was told about it, i'd never seen or experienced it. it just changed my life. >> host: how did you take those experiences back to chicago? y you went to high y school, integrated high-school. what was race lake at high school for you? >> guest: well, i was very active in high school. i had a lot of contact with
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white students. i was in the glee club, and i was on the student council. i was in the plays. i did not hang out with just black kids. i was, you know, a intermixed with all kinds of people i looked at them in a different way. as my parents explained to me, the superior attitude, white privilege, what privilege is all about. so i had a different look at my friends even though they had never treated me any differently. the idea that white people can do things that i cannot do was more than i could abide. so i don't think i was quite as friendly, but -- >> host: while. and you in your junior year decided to join the newspaper. what led you to that? >> guest: i had an english teacher that said average very
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well. it's very funny. about five years ago i got a letter from a teacher that i had in eight grade in chicago. she had saved one of my papers that i had written about thanksgiving. she licked -- she really liked . she mailed it to me and said, i kept this all these years because it was one of the best papers i have gotten from a student. i read that paper, and i was calling, i was really good. >> host: what was it about? the blessings of thanksgiving. >> guest: what it meant to me. i don't know. >> host: is it on your refrigerator now? >> guest: it is in a box with all of my memorabilia. it was remarkable that she saved that. anyhow, i did right pretty well when i had an english teacher
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that said you need to join the high school newspaper. i never thought of writing. i actually liked acting. i was in a lot of plays and things like that, what time very grateful i was now because that helped me as a television broadcaster learning how to use and project your voice and not being afraid to get in front of people and speaking. it's so i joined the newspaper, and they gave me a column called division news. my job was to go around to all of the home runs and interview people about what was going on with the people. [laughter] actually kind of a gossip column. who won the spelling bee. who won the science fair. but i enjoyed so much having access that me, carol could go around to these rooms and talk
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to the teachers and students and no things before anybody else could. then i could write them up and see my byline. my goodness. >> host: who is to say. >> guest: beheading. it is kind of an experienced. >> host: indeed. so you make the decision that this is going to be your life's work. >> guest: i left this. abcaeight? the attention, the access, people coming up to me, wanting to tell me information. and i was a curious child who read a lot. i guess i was pretty nerdy. but it all worked, reading, writing, the access and being able to ask questions and get answers was just wonderful. i said, this is what i want to do did i know anybody black who
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was a reporter? did i know anybody, a white woman that as a reporter or any woman? all i knew was lois lane from superman. brenda starr from the comic book but the idea, i knew there was a chicago tribune and the chicago sun times and the chicago daily news, all kinds of great newspapers. my parents were avid newspaper readers. seeing the bylines in the newspaper there and that people were covering things about murders and fighters and politics, i just, i just decided that i had to do that. >> host: you go and tell your parents that this is what you have decided, you want a career as a journalist. what did they say? >> guest: silly girl. [laughter] silly little girl. you can't be a journalist. women don't do that.
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and 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. we don't want to spend tuition, which is a struggle to get my tuition together for me. and it was like, you need to be a teacher or a nurse or a social worker. that is just about all the things young women in the early 60's would aspire to. i was just, no, i don't want to do that. i really want to do this. there were a lot of fights in my household and a lot of slamming of doors and putting my foot down. again, this was the first, no, you can't do this. i was just determined. finally they saw that i was, i was not going to be happy, i was not going to be a good person to live with unless i got this
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opportunity. >> host: right. >> guest: said they supported me, and i think god for having supported parents who did not get to college but made sure my sister and i did. >> host: at some point you're a second no. the second of many when you apply it to schools at northwestern. >> guest: northwestern and of it -- northwestern university. that is where i want to go because at the time it was one of the best journalism schools in the country. i had great grades. as i told you, i was in all kinds of activities. i had a b plus, a-average from high school, and i applied to northwestern. little did i no there was a quota system going on. there was a quota of the number of jews and the number of blacks that they took into the college. so i go to the admissions
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counselor, and he tells me -- tells me i was wasting my time. i needed to go become a nice english teacher. i could get a job, but i would never get a job working for the chicago tribune. i knew what was going to happen, and i got the rejection notice a few weeks later. we regret to inform you that -- five remember the first words. >> host: fin antelope. >> guest: thin envelope. no forms to fill out. the bill, a tiny letter. and i was like, my parents, thank god, they did not say we told you so. i said, well, i'm trying someplace else. >> host: you do just that and in that eventually graduating from where in one year? >> guest: the university of michigan. what do you want the year? >> host: never mind. >> guest: 1962. >> host: 1962, and he did well
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in school. >> guest: i did well in school, and there were 60 graduates in my class. journalism. everyone had a job at graduation time accept me. >> host: to not have a job again. >> guest: i went to work at the chicago public library where i worked every summer from the time i was 15 years old. here i am with a degree, and i'm going back to ana. [laughter] my high school job, my college summer job. i was disappointed, but i just felt something was going to happen, something's going to happen. i got this call from the dean of the school saying he had lined up an for me. it did not look good for the university to have one black student who did not have a job. he worked very hard to make that happen. that is how i ended up in
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tuskegee alabama. >> host: tell us about that. it is the early 60's. what is going on? >> guest: oh, boy. i was there for everything. i was there when george wallace, the school house door. i was there during selma and birmingham. the fire hoses and the dogs and all of that was happening so close to me. i am in this little rural town of 5,000 people in the middle of nowhere alabama. we saw the news. you had to watch the national news because the local news did not do a good job of covering the civil rights movement. i felt bad that i was not demonstrating, i was not part of the movement. i should have been out there, but then i'm like, i want to be a journalist. >> host: you didn't join
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because he wanted to maintain objectivity and coverage. >> guest: yes. and i, it changed me again because i had been in the north, and now i knew what segregated life was like. i lived under segregation. a young guy asked me out to a movie in tuskegee, alabama. it was wonderful movie theater. we had -- he said, were going to have to cut our on popcorn and bring it there, and we need to buy some candy bars because you can't get down on the first floor where the concession stand was. all of the black people have to set up in the balcony, which, of course, you know was filthy. they never cleaned or to care of it. i was like, pop. i'm not doing it. i'm not, i'm not going into a segregated facility.
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i had to get to montgomerie alabama to shop. they would not let you try on clothes. there was a dressing room for wide ladies and for white men, and there was a color dressing room in which men, women, and children had to change clothes. i was not going to abide by that segregated dressing room. so you would have to hold up close and see if it would fit or something like that. i was like, oh, my god. i just, i can't stand -- this is crazy. i was like on another planet. so i would end up doing catalog shopping or my mother with some stuff from chicago down to me because i just could not go back into that atmosphere. and the horrible things that were shouted at me by young white man as i walked down the street, i won't repeat them, but you can imagine that they were nasty and hurtful.
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and i'd just hated the south. i came to hate the south. seven people, i was just, i was very radical about my feelings about the south. but, you know, it made me do this stuff that made a difference because i did not demonstrate. for those people who had gotten their heads beaten and died and two were imprisoned and all those kinds of things, i felt, i have to do something for my people. i have to do something to make things better. so i was determined that i would work wherever i was in trying to make things improve conditions for black people, and that is why i ended up being very outspoken about the lack of
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blacks in corporate offices, the lack of black producers and women producers and all of those kinds of things. it was largely based on that experience in the south and feeling helpless and deciding have to do something where i can. >> host: and you finally leave the south and you go back up north, first and iowa and then finally at home in chicago in the 60's. about 1965. tell me about chicago, what was going on, and this radio job that you have. >> guest: i wanted to be a print reporter. the difference between 62 when i could not get the job and 65 was an amazing length of time. a lot had happened during that time. and in chicago the civil rights movement was growing in the
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south. people were making demands. getting into the trade unions and things like that. so, black people were sought out to be reporters. they would take people off the street. you want to be on tv? black people had said, you're not calling to cover our offense unless you send black camera crews, black reporters. i think them for saying that because i don't know how many of us would have entered the profession that early. so, they were looking -- i had jobs from all over. i was getting job offers. all of a sudden my sex and color that had been handicaps' were now advantages. so i ended up taking a job for a huge radio station. the 100,000-watt station heard on the east coast even. i began the first woman to
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broadcast news in chicago. i had to change from prince to broadcast because while i was at the university of iowa in graduate school i joined the radio station. i thought i would try that. >> host: you had that flores. [laughter] >> guest: developed from the drama. so funny how things fall into place. so ago, my gosh. you sound really good. they did not like women on the radio. we were shrill. our forces were shrill and difficult to listen to. i was like, who said that? where are the market studies that show that? so it's a reason to keep us out of certain jobs. but i left radio because of the intimacy. it is you and the audience and the story you cover. you are telling it to them. so i just really loved radio and
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ended up taking a job, instead of all the offers i got from newspapers, to work for the state radio station in chicago. >> host: times were tough. he might have been happy and certainly making history. but your colleagues are not as happy to have you there. >> guest: oh, no. it was a big news department for our radio station. thirteen of us, reporters. we -- they did not want me there. they were upset that i was there. they were like, what is she coming here for? i had not worked my way up from small station to a small station to bigger station up to this great big station in chicago, which at the time was the second-biggest market in the nation before l. a. grissom much. chicago was the second city.
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and so they resented the fact that i was hired. so they set out -- i believe it was a conspiracy, they set out to make me fail, to make me mess up, to have management have an excuse to get rid of me. telling because sending me to a news conference, being assigned to cover a news conference that happened an hour before i was told it was happening. coming back empty-handed and having the news director say -- i said, well, they told me. it sounded so lame. they told me that that is where it was. they marooned me when i was on the air. they would open the door. somebody would stick his neck behind in my face to make me a break on air or to make me stop what i was doing, but i was giving a news cast. i couldn't.
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i had to keep going. they threw robert tarantulas on the desk. this at my paper is on fire. when you are on air they come and and you can't say whether you doing in here. they come and stand behind me and snatch papers out of my hand. i learned very early how to get around those types of things by saying, repeating our top story, i did not have the rest of the newscast. i would just drag it out. because i had written them i knew them so i could have led some of the story. but what they did when they were trying to make me mess up was give me more focused. >> host: it make you better. >> guest: made me better. but, i mean, you know, if i am on and you heard an explosion, i would keep going. i had that kind of focus that nothing would change thanks to
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there. >> host: we are going to take a break and we will be back with carole simpson. >> "after words" with carole simpson and nia-malika henderson will continue after this short break. >> "after words" is available be up pot cast and itunes. it does it and click pot cast. select which pot caster would like to download and listen to "after words" when you travel. >> "after words" with carole simpson and nia-malika henderson continues. >> host: we are back with carole simpson. carole, tell me who you meet in 1966, someone who changes your life and career. >> guest: oh, yes. i had watched, you know, being
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an alabama. i had seen all of that demonstrations he was leading and all of his work. of course his speech in washington, the i have a dream speech. i just had so much admiration for this man. i never thought i would get an opportunity to meet him. he announced from atlanta that he was going north to chicago, and he was going to fight segregation in chicago. well, this big competitive news town, all of the reporters are trying to find out what the heck he is going to chicago for. mayor richard j. daley, he was horrified. what is this carpetbagger, nothing wrong with the city of chicago. so everybody was trying to find out what it was that he was coming for. i asked my news director, can i
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have the story? he said, well, she's black, he's back, probably. [laughter] >> host: it benefits you again. >> guest: yes. i went to o'hare airport waiting for all of the planes coming from atlanta with all of the other reporters and tv crews. so we are going from gate to gate as planes were coming in from atlanta. never saw him arrive anywhere. and so it turned out we found out, i found out from one of the ticket agents that he had been taken off the back of the plane and taken down in a car on the tarmac and driven away from us. most of the reporters thought he would stay in the hotel he frequented when he came to chicago in downtown chicago. for some reason i felt if he is being this guarded about it and does not want anybody to know
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anything, i bet he's going to stay here near the airport. i started by myself with my the tape recorder going from a hotel to a motel all around the airport. i'm so silly, i'm so young. i go, is dr. king registered here? as if he would be registered as dr. martin luther king. i'm sure he would have been mr. green or something like that. >> host: yang. >> guest: and so all of these people were saying, no, he's not registered. one of the hotels that i went in, there was something i got from body language. you learn as a reporter to pick up on that. it was just the way she said it that i believed, i bet he's here. i know he's year. so when she wasn't looking i went out the elevator. i stopped on to, i stopped on three, i stopped on for. i was looking up and down the
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corridors looking for any activity. fortunately it was of on hotel that did not have other corridors. it was just one line. you could look off the elevator and see if there was any activity. i knew he would be traveling with his lieutenants. and so i get to the seventh floor and a sea of these black men at the end of the hall i am going, i start heading that way. asked at to one of the gentlemen, young lady. i said, i want to get an interview with dr. king. [laughter] >> host: sure, no problem. >> guest: come this way. he said, no, dr. king is not giving any interviews. i said, but i'm here to see why he is coming to chicago. can somebody tell me? he is having a press conference at 10:00 a.m., and you will find out with everyone else. well, that did not make me very
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happy. i decided that i was going to stay by the elevators. he'll have to get past me whenever he went anywhere. if i could get to him and not his palace guard i might be able to get through to him. so, i sat. i had newspapers. i got the diet coke. i sat. and i sat down on the marble floor sitting on my coat. it was wintertime. i waited. i was there starting at about 7:00 a.m. to 57:00 p.m. they were just huddling back and forth down that hallway. people coming and going, not looking. i recognized. ralph abernathy. they were all there. yes.
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and i'm like, oh, my god. the civil-rights brain trust. and so all night i waited. a man came out at about midnight and said, young lady, you ought to go home because dr. king is not going to talk to you tonight. you should just get to the news conference. i said, no, i'm determined to see him. i'm going to stay. he said, okay. all night long, i don't know how. i was taking all over and sitting on that hard for. at about 730 in the morning i see dr. king coming my way. i can't tell you. it was like a halo was around him, like a god was coming my way. i straightened myself up and tried to press my hair down and look presentable after a night
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on the floor. he came up to me and said, are you the young lady they have been telling me about? i said, yes, sir. he said, have you been here all night? i said, yes, sir. i have to see you. i said, could you please, i'm the only negro reporter. it would be so fantastic if i could skip the rest of the city and you could tell me why you are here. he said, i admire your perseverance. he whispered in my year that close to my year and told me, i'm here to challenge the housing segregation patterns in the city of chicago which was and still is probably the most segregated city in america. and i was like, really? he said, it's going to be a direct challenge to mayor
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richard daley. he said, now, don't tell anybody. >> host: said what? >> guest: don't tell anybody. he winked, and he got on to the elevator and said, good luck, young lady. at think you're going to go far. he gave me such a boost. i ran to the telephone. i reported the story. it was picked up by the network. everybody else was reporting it. it hit the ap wire, w.c. fo reporting that dr. king is here for this. so i went to the news conference at 10:00 after doing lots of reports about how i had gotten the story. he saw me in the audience. he gave me a wink. i went, hi, dr. kane. thank you. he really put me on the map because no longer was anybody
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asking, who is carole simpson. >> host: at this point you are in radio, but you eventually make the switch on tv and land and the network. tell me about that experience, the first month there at nbc news? >> guest: at nbc, i had been nine years in local news before i hit the network. they wanted reporters -- now they don't care, but very young women doing the news, but they wanted you to be selling and have had a lot of experience before you went to the network. so i had an name in chicago. they thought i did a good job. they wanted to hire me and move me to washington d.c. which was my dream because now i would not be reporting on things just involving chicago and the region, but national things and worldwide things.
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i had always wanted to be a correspondent in washington. that is what they offered me. >> host: i get to washington. my dream job. i am not getting any assignments. i was assigned to cover a gw, which is the former name of hhs, the department of health and human resources. hhs, health and human services. and so, i was coming up with story ideas and suggesting all of these things. nobody wanted them. the network, the nightly news did not want them, the today show did not want them. i was like, what is going on? i was being sent out to do interviews on other people's packages. i had been on the network back, working out of the midwest bureau for six months before moving to washington. i happened -- this went on for
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about eight, nine months. i was miserable. i was not doing anything. i was not called upon. this is not what i imagined. why aren't tied at the white house? and so a friend of mine went to london and visited what had been our old news director in chicago. she said, i don't see her on the air. he said the word is she has gotten lazy. and thank god she came home and reported her telephone conversation to me. i just went berserk. lacy? you can call the ugly. you can call me stupid. don't call me lazy. that is not what i am. it was such a pejorative associated with black people that i just went crazy. and so i immediately went into the bureau chief and said, it
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has crossed the atlantic ocean that i am lazy, and i understand the whole network thinks i'm lazy. i want out of this contract. i'm leaving and going back to chicago. carole, what are you talking about. he claimed to have not heard any of this. he said, don't you worry. we don't want you to leave. i will look into this. well, that night at 9:00 i got an assignment, an assignment that i knew was going to get on the air. of course the next day i was honored. it just showed me how people can make things happen if they want to make them happen. if they don't want to make them happen -- so i've vowed to find out who it was that had started the rumor. i had called everybody that i had worked with in chicago that was now at the network and said, you know me. you know i'm not lazy.
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every time you hear that what you promise me you will tell them that you know carole? why would i come here and the lazy for my dream job? so, things worked out. it took me two years to find out who was, but i found out who was. i made him pay. [laughter] i made him pay. and i told people who it was. it is like, you know, it is the old boy network. they still supported him. he may have been chastised. he may have been reprimanded, nothing formal, and the suspension or anything like that, but he was still there. i did everything that i could to undermine him in any way that i could the way people tried to undermine me.
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>> host: and eventually you move after spending a number of years at nbc and decide to get to abc. right. >> guest: offered me money. the great television producer that was running abc and had run abc sports build the news department and started taking people from other networks. he tried to get the best talent. he wanted to ask -- we used to call it the almost broadcasting company when i was at nbc. he was determined to build it into a force. and so he hired me away from nbc i was happy to go. it was more money. that is where i spent most of my career, 24 years as stated abc. >> host: what did you experience there and see in terms of abc news treatment of
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women? >> guest: bad, it was real bad. we got together. we started getting together socially. i had done that at nbc. i found the women at abc were not even talking to each other. what the man had done is set them up as, you know, competitors to each other, not competitive with the man, but toward each other. so they would play women against women. who would get to get assignments? who would get to get assignment? and we started getting together socially to talk about things. they always ended up with what happens at work. we realized that there were no women in the corporate suites, no women that were senior producers of any shows, no executive producers, no bureau chiefs, no foreign correspondents, no women on how major be in washington, which would be white house and
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congress or something like that. and that, we were really being denied opportunities. we needed to bring that to the attention of people. there was talk of lawsuits. let's see them. i said, no, let's go through channels. so i was chosen to be the spokesperson because nobody else wanted to be so we made an astounding presentation. we did a content analysis of every show to show where women and minorities were not and how many there were of us, how many women were doing what. and it changed. they said i never really thought about it. he came out of sports, used to being with guys. the importance of women around was not a big deal. he did, and i give him credit for making changes based on our
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presentation. >> host: and so the results, changes were actually made there? >> guest: they were. we had a woman named vice president. i became an anchor for the weekend news. we had a woman assigned to the white house. we had two women bureau chiefs named, two women correspondents. we also found out that women were making $30,000 less than men as producers to bring exactly the same job and having to have exactly the same qualifications. and so, they ended up doing a pay equity steady and equalizing the salaries. you know, that is still in place. that change is there. women are not starting off with one hand behind the. so the women have made a lot of progress at abc news. still not the big jobs, the hiring and firing once, but
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vice-president overseeing shows. still trying. you know, lots of cracks in the ceiling, but we have not broken through yet. the president of a network or something. >> host: while you were there you were doing double duty. on the weekends you were an acre, but you also corresponded during the week nights. >> guest: best combination i can imagine. i could get dressed up on sunday. i have my hair done and make a down and talk to the people. i loved talking to the people. i just felt they were my people out there that i was talking to. and then my love is reporting. i covered a lot of social issues because nobody else wanted to cover them. i did the crack babies, and i did the juvenile crime, and i did the post-traumatic stress syndrome that children were
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getting. i did crack mothers. really important stories, i felt, for the network. they don't do the stories anymore. you know why? people don't want to be upset. so we have got a situation. i mean, i'm kind of glad that i'm not in network television now because it is programmed to what people want. they don't want to see public housing. they don't want to see poor people. they want medical breakthroughs and business and, you know, of little bit of the news with the president, but they don't want to see anything that upsets them. that is what i want to do. what is his name? i can't remember his name a hundred years ago. at our job is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. felt that true to the way i cover the news. >> host: that certainly came
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through when you in 1992 moderated the town hall between then and governor clinton, president bush, and ross perot. you describe that as the crowning achievement of your career. tell us about that speech to a million people watching. i was chosen to do the debate because there have been some criticism about the previous debate. there were no people of color. they got 82 for with me. a woman and an african-american. you know, if they had gone to abc and said, give us somebody to moderate this debate, did you think abc would have chosen me to mack it would have been peter jennings or ted koppel or diane sawyer. i would have been weighed down on the list, but i've was chosen by the campaign and the bipartin commission on presidential debates. i covered clinton, and i covered
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george h. w. bush for eight years. i knew him very well. they approved my being the moderator. it was very scary to me because it was this town hall format. we have not had one of those before. they had all been panels of reporters asking questions of the candid it. so this -- there were no films that i could go back and look at and see how you do this. so it was really, you know, on-the-job training. i was seen by 91 million people. i go overseas, and people still remember me overseas because they were watching. well, the camera and the director could spot me in the red suit. >> host: in the crowd it. >> guest: right. if i was in another dark suit it would have been hard.
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they ask me to wear that. >> host: in 1996, that was the year you felt like things started to go south at abc. tell me about that time. >> guest: you want to make me cry. >> host: i think we have some tissues. >> guest: don't try to make me cry. no, there were two people at abc that i think began to put the knives and 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 we can't show. it hurt me so to find out that the people that began the doing yen of carole simpson was a
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white woman and a black man, people i had worked 30 years to get into the job that they held. i can't tell you how much that hurt. it's like, you know your job to me because i put my job on the line. you would do this to me? bling so that began. and there was a new president of abc news. did not like carole simpson quite as much. kept me in the job despite what people said. started saying things like, she doesn't know how to add lib, she doesn't know how to add the well. i am ad libbing this whole hour with you. don't you think i can? and then i was getting slow in my delivery. it was age.
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you can't say it because of the ada law. the age discrimination act. things like that, she was not feeling well. it travel and from washington every week and start the day after having troubles and. you know, as soon as the red light came on i was fine. you tell me i'm live and i'm ready to go. but it was very hurtful. i had fought racism. i have fought sexism. here was coming ageism and these subtle comments about my performance. so they offered me a very -- they said that they wanted to bring some new talents along and prepare them for the network. i had done the show for 15
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years, which is a long-running tv. i felt that they would not have told peter jennings that. doing it for 20 some odd years. just to get rid of me. they made me an offer i could refuse. and insulting offer to stay at the network and not do the news anymore. i'm going, no, not try to make it that easy for you to just say, i'm not accepting that. i'm going to stay here and make you have to deal with me longer. i stayed three years longer not doing all lot, kind of put out to pasture. but during that time i'm planning the next phase of my life, what i will do. so i moved to boston to be near my grandchildren. >> host: tell me more about your family. i was remiss in not asking you
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that. the balance. >> guest: it was so difficult. wearing three hats. my husband was a career man. there were social activities and needed to get to with him. i had to do my career, and i had to be the best possible. doing that and i had children and a home. i was the one buying issues when feet were getting too big. so sometimes it was just awful juggling act. i wanted to be the best that all of them and tried, but it is tough. i want women to know that it is tough. you think you can do it all, but it is very hard. >> host: today when you look at television news what do you see? to you feel like the changes that you pushed for are evident in what you see on tv today? >> guest: no.
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now. i don't. you see lots of women on tv, don't you? the cable networks and everything. so one good thing, women are doing amazingly well, but they are not making the decisions. they are not up their hiring and firing people. you see a lot of bonds. it is men that are hiring people. they hire people that are attractive that they want to be around. no one is speaking out as i continue to do every opportunity i can. i think because so few of us have jobs that you are afraid. you want to hang on to your job. you don't want to rock the boat. they saw what happened to somebody who rock the boat. still achieving change. nobody cares. who is talking about this these days? nobody. >> host: your advice --
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quickly, we are wrapping up, but to young journalists, what is your advice to folks come along in their 20's and 30's? >> guest: they have to be the best. you're not going to succeed if you can't write well, if you can't -- i mean, you have to have all of your skills together and be able to compete with anyone


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