Lesley Stahl of CBS News is 80

60 Minutes for 30 years

Lesley Stahl
CBS News, 2018

I was watching 60 Minutes in November. Lesley Stahl was reporting on the mountain gorillas of Rwanda making a comeback. “Visiting mountain gorillas is no walk in the park. It’s an uphill hike for more than an hour at an altitude of 8000 feet, through that farmland that once belonged to the gorillas just to get to the park.

“Lesley Stahl: Are you out of breath?
Tara Stoinski: Yes. [LAUGHS]
Lesley Stahl: Or is it just me?”

And I thought that reporter must be close to 80! And she was. She must love the gorillas, which she first covered back in 1987.

It occurred to me that I had been watching Lesley Stahl for nearly half a century. As she noted in her 1999 book Reporting Live (1999), she, Connie Chung, and Bernard Shaw were the ‘affirmative action babies’ in what became known as the Class of ’72.” As such, she was assigned to cover, in June 1972, a “third-rate burglary” in the Watergate complex. Like Woodward and Bernstein at the Washington Post, the seemingly insignificant story really launched her career.

She was a White House correspondent during the presidencies of Carter, Reagan, and part of Bush 41. Also, she moderated the CBS Sunday morning program Face The Nation between September 1983 and May 1991.

Since March 1991, she’s been a correspondent for 60 Minutes. Thirty years is as long as Steve Kroft and the late Ed Bradley were on the show; only Morley Safer and Mike Wallace, both of whom started in 1968 are now deceased, were on longer.

Awards

Lesley Stahl received 13 Emmys, plus numerous other awards. One was for “a shocking 2015 report on how some police recruit vulnerable young people for dangerous jobs as confidential informants.” One was for a series based on her “unprecedented” access at Guantanamo Bay prison facilities. “Another [was] for an eye-opening story about China’s huge real estate bubble… She won her 13th Emmy for her interview with the widow of a slain hostage that offered a rare look inside the technically illegal process of negotiating with terrorists.”

Stahl has gotten the big interviews. Former National Security Council official Fiona Hill, Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, the then-new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and many, many more. She has managed to greatly annoy some of the powerful, including Trump (2020) and then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy (2007).

“She and her husband, author Aaron Latham, live in New York. They have a daughter, Taylor Latham, and two granddaughters. Jordan and Chloe, the subjects of her book, ‘Becoming Grandma: the Joy and Science of the New Grandparenting.'”

The Good Fight and other Sunday TV

no CBS All Access for me

Good FightBefore The Good Fight aired in 2017, I was a huge fan of the TV seriesThe Good Wife (2009-2016). Maybe it was the premise. In real life, the US was experiencing a series of sex scandals, involving high profile male politicians.

Often, but not always, there was a wife standing by her husband. It happened in New York State, with Eliot Spitzer, the crime-fighting attorney general who became governor. But it as revealed that Spitzer, in his former role, was also prostitute-facilitating Client 9.

Likewise “Alicia [Julianna Margulies] has been a good wife to her husband, a former state’s attorney [Chris Noth]. After a very humiliating sex and corruption scandal, he is behind bars. She must now provide for her family and returns to work as a litigator in a law firm.”

After the run ended, there was a spinoff called The Good Fight, starring Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart, Alicia’s former boss/partner/frenemy. CBS showed the first episode. To see others, though, one had to sign onto something called CBS All Access. No thanks. The new Star Trek is on the same platform.

Now, after the third season of The Good Fight, with another one scheduled, Season 1 is being shown on CBS broadcast TV, each Sunday night. I’m excited, but not enough to have watched any of the five episodes I’ve recorded. I know lots of folks like to binge on these things, but it’s not me.

That means the DVR records a lot Sunday nights. In addition to The Good Fight, there are also one or two episodes of 60 Minutes episodes. Of course, most of them I’ve already seen unless some NFL football game, NCAA basketball contest or golf tournament ran long.

The other hour is The $100,000 Pyramid. It’s a game show that initially aired in 1973 as the $10,000 Pyramid, hosted by the late Dick Clark. Former NFL linebacker Michael Strahan is the current host. The game plays the same as it did decades ago. The clues in the first round may be more explicit – “horny” was a word a contestant had to convey recently.

Whereas I specifically dislike some of the other shows ABC has brought back, such as To Tell The Truth and Match Game, though I had watched them in earlier incarnations. I have no interest in seeing Press Your Luck or Card Sharks then or now.

May rambling #2: Blind In Your Mind

Since when did Christianity become more about preaching the rules than preaching the Gospel of mercy?

text-and-drive-large-hed-2016

A sad case of Facebook blackmail.

“Dude, enough with the entitlement.” She doesn’t owe you @#$!”.

Women are getting harassed in bathrooms because of anti-transgender hysteria. Plus Utah man attacked for taking his 5-year-old daughter into Walmart men’s bathroom. I have taken my then-5 y.o. daughter to a Wal-Mart men’s bathroom, in North Carolina, without incident.

Obituary of a Homophobic Racist, or, My Grandfather.

Killing Dylann Roof. “A year after Obama saluted the families for their spirit of forgiveness, his administration seeks the death penalty for the Charleston shooter.”

Why should schools move away from suspensions?

Poor People Deserve To Taste Something Other Than Shame.

The Election Is About the Country, Not the Candidates

Cartoon: Cut from commencement speeches.

The End Of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Campaign.

What third parties CAN do.

John Oliver: Primaries and Caucuses.

R.I.P. Pinius Bergmann (1925-2016).

Aphantasia: How It Feels To Be Blind In Your Mind.

booksivererad

Book review: Stardancer by Kelly Sedinger.

Alicia: As I’m leaving the library today, I walked by a pile of new books and literally said out loud to myself, “No, I already have enough at home to read right now.”
Roger: The question: What did the books say in response?
Alicia: It was more of a quiet weeping.

On the heartbreaking difficulty of getting rid of books.

Neither Rand nor McNally. Death by GPS.

This month in 1856: Violence on the U.S. Senate floor.

Three-minute video about the Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region, produced by the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.

The Trouble with Comics: the epic Question Time survey of the best current comics titles.

Now I Know: Combat Juggling and The Land Down Under in the Land Down Under and And Together They’ll Make Music.

True Facts About The Owl.

Sodium.

TELEVISION

60 Minutes, the Sunday night news staple, honored Morley Safer, one of television’s most celebrated journalists. Then, days later, Safer died at 84. From the New York Times: “Mr. Safer had broadcast 919 “60 Minutes” reports, profiling international heroes and villains, exposing scams and corruption, giving voice to whistle-blowers and chronicling the trends of an ever-changing America.”

Alan Young, RIP, star of Duck Tales, and, of course, Mr. Ed. But, of course, of course, some are unhip to the lingo.

Beth Howland, Accident-Prone Waitress Vera From the Sitcom ‘Alice,’ Dies at 74, on New Years’ Eve 2015. Her husband was the actor Charles Kimbrough, who played the anchorman Jim Dial on the television series ‘Murphy Brown.’

Muppets TV show, RIP.

David Letterman – Behind The Scenes Of Late Night’s Longest Running Broadcaster and Leaving Letterman, Part I.

The closing of Johnny Carson’s last Tonight Show.

I disagree broadly, but as for these three: Celebrities Should Not Play Jeopardy. Plus Buzzy Cohen Might Be The Most Polarizing ‘Jeopardy!’ Contestant Yet.

MUSIC

What Kind of Fool Am I? – Kermit the Frog. And Grover.

CREAM – The Last Goodbye (1968).

Coverville 1126: Bob Dylan Cover Story VII.

Debunking Every Excuse For Keeping The Monkees Out Of The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, plus a positive review of their NEW album. Here’s Me & Magdalena, which was written for the band by Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard.

First Listen: Paul Simon, ‘Stranger To Stranger’, due out June 3.

The fight over Prince’s estate will dig deep into copyright law for a very long time.

Lady Gaga and the Online Eucharist Police. Since when did Christianity become more about preaching the rules than preaching the Gospel of mercy?

March rambling #2: We are never Ivory Coast

Rob Ford died of a more respectable disease.

Stolen: We are all France. We are all Belgium. We are never Ivory Coast or Burkina Faso or Tunisia or Mali.

10 Safest Countries If WW3 Breaks Out
make America grate
There was no wave of compassion when addicts were hooked on crack.

From Scapegoating to Solidarity: 2016 Is the Year to Turn the Immigration Debate Around.

Weekly Sift: My racial blind spots.

An Open Letter to Drumpf Voters from His Top Strategist-Turned-Defector.

What It Means to Be Right-Footed.

I told the truth in my sister’s obituary so that others might choose to live and Amy Biancolli’s The long arms of a story.

The man who turns news into art.

Game Theory for Parents. “Mathematically tested measures to make your kids cooperate—all on their own.”

Something just slammed into Jupiter.

American Bystander is a printed humor magazine that’s about to release its second issue, with the help of a Kickstarter campaign.

I generally have good success, but Chuck Miller reports on the UPS epic fail.

Feck ‘n’ Gruntle.

What does superfetation mean?

Evanier – how things are made: Snickers bars and frozen french fries and
Newman-O’s (an Oreo competitor) and balloons and an automated teller machine, plus a nifty magic trick.

Now I Know: The Secret Life of Honey Buns

Pie-lexa as a treatment for RBF

Cookie Monster bakes — with some help from Siri.

superman.races

RIP

Patty Duke, 69: Oscar winner was the youngest at the time to receive the award. She went through so much before becoming a mental health advocate. And yes, I watched The Patty Duke Show – she was the youngest actor to have a TV show named for her in the day, and I even remember the theme.

She even had a hit single. Here’s an anecdote from Ken Levine; I’d forgotten she’d been the Screen Actors Guild president. She was the Mystery Guest on What’s My Line (1972).

Ken Howard, 71: he of The White Shadow, 30 Rock, Crossing Jordan, Adam’s Rib and a bunch of other stuff I’ve watched. He was also SAG/AFTRA union president.

Garry Shandling, 66: comedian’s influential career spanned decades. I watched his eponymously-named show regularly. He also gave us the greatest TV show about television; I didn’t see it often, it being on HBO, but I DID see the finale while I was in Boston taping JEOPARDY! Mark Evanier rewrote for Garry.

Larry Drake, 67: from L.A. Law.

Former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, 46: died of a more respectable disease and The Honest Liar.

Music

My Window Faces The South – George Morgan with a young Glen Campbell.

I Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere – Rick Moranis.

Son of a Preacher Man – Tom Goss.

Not Given Lightly – Chris Knox, a New Zealand artist (1989).

Fragile – Sting and Stevie Wonder, from the former’s 60th birthday concert.

Green Onions and Sophia Loren. Loren was in Schenectady giving a talk recently; I didn’t see her, alas.

Google searches (me)

Drawing lots of lines.

Jewish View.

 

I is for Inherently good?

“But if babies have positive feelings for the similar puppet, do they actually have negative feelings for the one who’s different?”

Watching CBS News 60 Minutes this summer, I noted that they repeated a story Born good? Babies help unlock the origins of morality. I found it fascinating, as I watched it for a second time.

“It’s a question people have asked for as long as there have been people: are human beings inherently good? Are we born with a sense of morality or do we arrive blank slates, waiting for the world to teach us right from wrong?”

There were a series of experiments done on children six months old at a clinic associated with Yale University: “In offering babies this seemingly small, innocuous choice — graham crackers or Cheerios — [researcher Karen] Wynn is probing something big: the origins of bias. The tendency to prefer others who are similar to ourselves.

“So will [baby] Nate, who chose Cheerios over graham crackers, prefer this orange cat, who also likes Cheerios — over the grey cat who likes graham crackers instead? Apparently so.

“But if babies have positive feelings for the similar puppet, do they actually have negative feelings for the one who’s different? To find out, Wynn showed babies the grey cat — the one who liked the opposite food, struggling to open up the box to get a toy. Will Gregory here want to see the graham cracker eater treated well? Or does he want him treated badly? Gregory seemed to want the different puppet treated badly.”

Reporter Lesley Stahl notes that the child went with his bias.

“And so did Nate and 87 percent of the other babies tested. From this Wynn concludes that infants prefer those ‘who harm… others’ who are unlike them.”

I can’t help but wonder if most people, including adults, react similarly, depending on whether they relate to different individuals in a dispute.

But there are also positive outcomes in this study. Especially as children get older, altruism develops, a sense of fairness.

Here is the video, and here’s a bonus feature, Is your child fair when no one is watching?


ABC Wednesday – Round 13

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