Wertheim: At some level, writing is writing. And at the same time, this has been a completely different kind of writing. I had to learn how to be more efficient. And there are some words that don’t work for TV. Puns don’t always work when you can’t see the words on the page. I could say it’s been gratifying, but it’s just been really fun to write in a different way. Pelley: I find over my career that television generally exaggerates, but there have been times when I didn’t feel the camera could capture the enormity of what I was looking at. Bucha [in Ukraine] was one of those moments. That’s where the writing comes in, where you look at those pictures, use those pictures to inform the writing, and add the facts that allow the audience to have a broader perspective on what’s going on. Owens: There’s nobody I prefer to have for a difficult interview than Lesley Stahl. She’s fearless. Fearless . Stahl: I can’t think of the last time I was intimidated. But I’m sure I was intimidated after what I’m going to tell you. In my mind, the one big moment I lost control of an interview, it was because the person lorded over me—and we were online—and he managed to do it long distance. It was General Norman Schwarzkopf. I was doing Face the Nation . It was live, and it was in rela- tion to the Iraq War, and he shut me down. He totally shut me down. I don’t know if I said to myself, You’re never going to be in that situation again or Learn some- thing from it , but that was a moment I’ll never forget. I covered the White House, and you learn that you can ask a leader, a head of state, a tough question. You’re paid to do that. That’s the job. Holding people in power accountable is what you’re there for. Alfonsi: What 60 Minutes does best is, instead of doing the whole story, instead of doing everything that hap- pened, we try to focus in on one small thing, driving a train toward a pinhole. [For the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School piece], we really wanted to hear what these kids had to say and let them speak and hope that people connected with them. Stahl: The most important thing for an interviewer to do is to listen. Because what’s really important is the follow-up question. Their third answer. The most important thing from the questioner’s side is to pick up on what they’re saying and be able to say, “Wait a minute, what about this?” If the follow-up question is the most important part of the interview—which it is—then you have to be able to follow the subject the person is talking about. You have to study it. That’s it: listening and studying. [ Pauses. ] Also, people lie.
60 MINUTES BILL WHITAKER “That’s why I do this: to have an impact, to make things clear to people so they can stand up and say, ‘I don’t want my country doing that.’”
SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER • 2022
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