"'Nightline' has a great mission - to be able to do only one subject for half an hour tonight that is not trying to be the broadcast of record, is not trying to have any other obligation than to be interesting. When people tune into 'Nightline' at 11:35, they say, 'I wonder what Ted thinks is interesting,' and 'I wonder what Ted's doing.'"
About This Interview
In his two-hour Archive interview, Tom Bettag talked about his educational background in journalism and the influence of Fred Friendly, who Bettag studied under at Columbia University. He chronicles his career at CBS as he moved up the ranks through the late '60s and '70s, ultimately serving as senior producer of the CBS Morning News. He discusses a pivotal moment in his career when he decided to accept a demotion in job title to allow him to get more field experience, before returning to news producing. He discusses working with Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News and the transition to Dan Rather as news anchor. Bettag speaks in detail about the journalistic style of both Cronkite and Rather. He talks about his tenure as executive producer of the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather from 1986-91 and lists some of the important milestones of the broadcast. He then talks about his long association as executive producer of ABC News Nightline. He describes the daily schedule of assembling the show, the changes he made in the working methods of the staff, and comments on anchor Ted Koppel's strengths as a broadcaster. Karen Herman conducted the interview in Washington, D. C. on June 14, 2005.