Season 2 - Ep.1 | Lesley Stahl: 30 Minutes with a 60 Minutes TV Legend

Redefiners Podcast
Hosted By:
January 25, 2022 | 33 min
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lesley-stahl.jpg
Lesley Stahl
Award-Winning Journalist and 60 Minutes Correspondent

Season 2 - Ep.1 | Lesley Stahl: 30 Minutes with a 60 Minutes TV Legend

We’re stepping out of the boardroom and into the newsroom with our guest, broadcast journalist legend Lesley Stahl. Now in her 30th year on 60 Minutes, Lesley is renowned for her courage, intelligence, and interviewing prowess. She’ll share her two Redefiner moments—covering Watergate and surviving Covid—that significantly shaped her career, her life, and her priorities. In this episode, we’ll also talk with Lesley on broadcast news topics that have surprising parallels to business topics: how to prepare for and deal with tough conversations, and how Diversity, Equity & Inclusion efforts make both news and business organizations infinitely better. We’ll also talk about how technology is changing the way we get our news—not necessarily for the better—and how trust and truth in news are more essential and harder to come by than ever.

 

Lesley Stahl
Award-Winning Journalist and 60 Minutes Correspondent

Lesley Stahl is one of America's most honored and experienced broadcast journalists and offers a historical look at politics from a career that has spanned over fifty years. Her rich career has been marked by political scoops, surprising features and award-winning foreign reporting, a body of work that won her the RTDNA's 2015 Paul White award for lifetime achievement. She has been a 60 Minutes correspondent since March 1991 and began her 30th season in 2020. She is the author of the best-selling book Becoming Grandma.

Prior to joining 60 Minutes, Stahl served as CBS News White House correspondent – the first woman to hold that job – during the Carter and Reagan presidencies and part of the term of George H. W. Bush. Her reports appeared frequently on the CBS Evening News, first with Walter Cronkite, then with Dan Rather, and on other CBS News broadcasts. Stahl continues to cover the top political stories of our day, and interviews the top power players in Washington D.C., including President Donald Trump four times during his time as president, Nancy Pelosi, Betsy DeVos, and more.

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We’re stepping out of the boardroom and into the newsroom with our guest, broadcast journalist legend Lesley Stahl. Now in her 30th year on 60 Minutes, Lesley is renowned for her courage, intelligence, and interviewing prowess. And at 80 years old, she shows no signs of stopping.

We’ll talk to Lesley about the Redefiner moments that shaped her career as one of the first wave of female broadcast journalists, as well as her experience prepping for tough conversations, and what she calls the end of the golden age of journalism—a new era in which trust in the media is scarce and alternative sources of information abound.

Here’s a taste of what you’ll hear from Lesley in this episode, in her words (edited for length and clarity):

“Finally women are succeeding and they're succeeding everywhere. I've been waiting for this to happen forever. Why did it take so long?”

Leslie’s Redefiner Moment:
I had no idea about journalism when I was in college. I know we had a newspaper, but I don't think we had a journalism course. Out of college I went to graduate school. I was in my early twenties and working for the mayor of New York when I walked into a newsroom one day and asked a reporter, "What do you do all day? Tell me what you do.”

When he finished, I had this burning urge to become a journalist just based on what he said he did all day, which was gather, gather, gather information, then put it together and disseminate. I thought, wow, how come no one told me about this? Oh, brave new world! It was like falling in love.

On affirmative action and making D&I initiatives successful:
My first job was at NBC News working in their election unit. So I entered journalism through politics. The pivotal moments had more to do with the news of the day: I covered Watergate, and it was lucky that I covered Watergate. I was assigned to it. I didn't ask for it. And of course it lasted for years. So that was my break, so to speak.

I got in during affirmative action, which was popular back then. I was in the door and incredibly grateful just to be there. My boss at the time who hired me and Connie Chung and Bernard Shaw was totally, 100% committed to affirmative action. The commitment of the boss is so vital for anything to succeed. He told the senior correspondents that they were to bring us along, that we were not to fail. And he also told us that if we didn't work hard, he wasn't going to stay with us. And I did work hard and I did have sharp elbows. But if he hadn't made sure that we didn't fall on our faces early, he brought us along when he thought we were ready. And so a boss is everything. Connie, Bernie and I all went on to have big careers.

On priorities shifting post-COVID:
My husband and I had COVID at the same time. My husband's handicapped so we had people here around the clock. I came home and the nurse who was taking care of us said to me, "You are the first one of my patients to survive."

The whole time I had COVID, even when I was in  the hospital with pneumonia, I never felt endangered. Never. When I would go out reporting and I'd get into thorny, maybe dangerous situations, I never feel I'm in danger either. I come home afterwards, as I did from COVID, and I think, you idiot! Why didn't you feel scared? But it did change my priorities a little bit. It encouraged me to reduce the field a little bit. But not my work. I’m never leaving my work. They're going to have to drag me out.


If you like this episode, you may also enjoy our conversation with Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and co-founder of Ellevest.

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