of Georgetown, Washington D.C.
SMITH: For over a year, many of the central figures in the
Clinton-Lewinsky scandal have been seen -- but not heard.
(Correspondent): Mrs. Tripp, what did Ms. Lewinsky say in her
SMITH: But now -- one-by-one--they are breaking their silence and
coming forward to tell their stories in exclusive television
ED BRADLEY: I'm Ed Bradley.
of the "get."
SMITH: For the correspondents who land them, these celebrity
confessionals are journalistic trophies -- the big "gets" as
television producers call them -- interviews like Ed Bradley's
encounter with former White House volunteer Kathleen Willey on "60
Minutes" last March -- or Diane Sawyer's with Independent Counsel
Ken Starr on "20/20" last November -- or Jamie Gangel's taped
conversation with Linda Tripp on NBC's "Today" Show on the morning
the Senate voted on the articles of impeachment. Days later, CNN's
Larry King interviewed Tripp live in the studio, and then the woman
whose sexual harassment suit started it all, Paula Jones.
recently, Lisa Myers of NBC interviewed Juanita Broaddrick, the
woman known as Jane Doe #5 in the Paula Jones sexual harassment
case. She alleges that President Clinton, while serving as attorney
general of Arkansas in 1978, assaulted her sexually. And coming
next, the get of all gets, former White House intern Monica
Lewinsky. Barbara Walters' taped interview will be featured on a
special two-hour edition of ABC's "20/20." Independent Counsel Starr
imposed some limits on what could be discussed.
WALTERS: -- not restrictions on us but these are restrictions on
Monica -- and the major one was that she could not comment on Ken
Starr's investigation per se -
TERENCE SMITH: The interview may not contain hard news, but Ms.
Walters says it is illuminating nonetheless.
BARBARA WALTERS: In this interview she takes us through the
entire relationship, the whole rollercoaster ride of this
relationship from that first day when she shows her thong to the way
she feels about him now. You understand her; you understand the
relationship; you understand the parts of her that aren't so
SMITH: ABC has defined the interview as a special, which permits it
to quadruple the normal advertising rates for that time period. A
30-second commercial will cost $800,000, almost a Super Bowl-sized
price. All told, ABC should make some $35 million from the two-hour
interview. Monica Lewinsky will not be paid for her ABC appearance
but she will receive $660,000 for a separate interview with
Britain's Channel Four Television.
book, Monica's Story, will bring in several million more.
Altogether, she may earn as much as $6 million from her story. But
roughly half of that will go to taxes and agents' commissions. In
addition, she is said to owe some $2 million in legal fees,
transportation and security. So in the end, Monica Lewinsky's story
-- the biggest get of them all -- may not get her much.
SMITH: Now for more on what television executives, journalists, and
viewers win and perhaps lose in the get game, we're joined by Jeff
Zucker, executive producer of the "Today" show on NBC; Ken Auletta,
media columnist for New Yorker magazine; and Carol Ross
Joynt, a producer who for the past 15 years has focused on the art
of wooing guests. She's secured interviews for Ted Koppel, David
Brinkley, Larry King, and Charlie Rose. Welcome to you all.
TERENCE SMITH: Carol, let me begin with you and ask: How does it
work? What are the tricks of the trade? How do you persuade people
to come on your broadcast, rather than another one?
ROSS JOYNT, Television Producer: I have always believed, especially
in the 90's, that booking is what journalism has evolved into in
broadcasting, and I think that at its best, it is journalism. At its
worst, it's mudwrestling, but I try and I think most of the other
bookers I know use the basic principles of Journalism 101:
persistence, persistence, persistence, do a lot of research, and
don't be afraid to go to the phone book.
TERENCE SMITH: And you send flowers from time to time.
ROSS JOYNT: You send flowers; you send candy. But I think that gets
blown way out of proportion to the numbers of times that bookers are
just making phone calls, making relationships, and doing good
TERENCE SMITH: Jeff, Jeff Zucker, why is it so important to a
broadcast such as yours to be the first?
JEFF ZUCKER, "Today Show": Well, I think, you know, you always
want to be first just - I mean, I think that's the oldest game in
the book. The New York Times wants to be first; Time
magazine wants to beat NewsWeek; "20/20" wants to beat
"Dateline;" the "Today Show" wants to beat "60 Minutes," "Good
Morning America," because you know that the first time somebody
tells their story is when there's going to be the greatest interest.
When there's the greatest interest, there will be the greatest
ratings, and, you know, we're in this game for both journalism,
because actually the one thing about what Carol said is I think that
journalism may be in part booking but it's also in part - in large
part - the interview, and you know, this journalism is about that
interview, and it's about bringing the biggest number of eyeballs to
the set to watch that interview, just as Time, Newsweek,
or the New Yorker wants to bring the greatest number of
readers to its magazine, and that's why it's important to be first.
of mindless arms race."
|TERENCE SMITH: Ken Auletta, is there any harm in any
AULETTA, New Yorker: Well, I mean, I think it's true that we
all - we all try and cajole and be persistent to get people to talk
to us, and there's no difference between a journalist and a booker
in that regard; we all do the same thing in that sense. But I think
the harm is that oftentimes there's a kind of mindless arms race
that goes on here to get people who are hot. Now, I don't think our
mission in journalism is just to get as many people in the tent as
we can. Obviously, we'd like to; I want to write a piece for the
New Yorker and have as many people read it as possible. But
there are some subjects that it seems to me we get excessive about,
and many of the guests that appear on these tabloid shows - and not
just the tabloid shows but many of the magazine shows that are now
tabloid on the networks - are - we're searching for that hot
candidate, that hot person who hasn't been talked to before - to get
that biggest audience we can, and we don't stop and think whether
the person is important and worthy of say of two hours' of network
time as Monica Lewinsky is going to get.
TERENCE SMITH: In other words, a celebrity culture, Carol, more
CAROL ROSS JOYNT: Well, it's - I'm sure this has happened with
Jeff also. One of the big debates we used to always have at "Larry
King" was the - just how important it was to be first. And I
sometimes felt that we benefited from being second, because the big
guest of the week would go on with Barbara Walters or Oprah or the
"Today Show" and it would be a taped interview. They might say
things that they thought about a little bit more after they heard it
on tape, buzz would develop over the weekend, and then they'd come
on "Larry Live," and we'd have a bigger audience. We'd get a bounce
from the tape interview they did first.
JEFF ZUCKER: You know, Terry, to Ken's point about -- about the
people that you talked about in your tape setup to this entire
conversation, I think that the public is actually better off for
having heard from all those people that we have heard from in the
last year. I think Ken's right, that there does come some point
where some of the people who are being chased for some of these gets
probably aren't worthwhile. But I do think that the people you
talked about in your taped setup spot to this segment, the public is
better off from having heard their stories.
||TERENCE SMITH: Well, looking at those interviews,
Ken, are they news or are they entertainment?
AULETTA: Well, sometimes they're both. My own take is that too often
they are more entertainment and driven by entertainment values and
driven by not a news value that says, "Is this an important subject
that we feel we have to illuminate, that we feel we are educating in
some way the public and giving them stuff they need to know?" -- or
are we driven by a concern for ratings and for maximizing our
JEFF ZUCKER: But, Ken -- but, Ken, which of those guests that
Terry talked about in his opening segment weren't newsworthy?
KEN AULETTA: No, I think Monica Lewinsky is newsworthy. I,
frankly, would not give her two hours, and I'd be fired the next
day. But, you know, okay, but that's a decision that ABC and Barbara
have made for whatever reasons and they may still.
TERENCE SMITH: Jeff, were you in the running, the "Today Show",
for the Lewinsky interview?
JEFF ZUCKER: Of course. And, you know, hopefully in time we'll be
second, as Carol alluded to. But, you know, I think that everybody
wanted the Monica Lewinsky interview and, you know, I think
everybody understands why Barbara Walters got it.
TERENCE SMITH: Carol?
CAROL ROSS JOYNT: What about John King? Is that where you draw
the line? Would you -- because I was saying to Terry that it would
seem to me that I bet he's already on the tops of some people's
TERENCE SMITH: Let's explain that John King is the now-convicted
murderer in the Jasper, Texas, dragging death case and pretty much
CAROL ROSS JOYNT: And that's one I wouldn't want to have to go
JEFF ZUCKER: Personally, I think that it's not something we have
or will or would want to pursue.
CAROL ROSS JOYNT: But you know what I mean, that that can become
suddenly the compelling -
JEFF ZUCKER: But I think that may be a good example of what Ken
is talking about, --
CAROL ROSS JOYNT: Yes.
JEFF ZUCKER: -- which is not important.
||KEN AULETTA: But it's not just that. If you're
driven by a concern to maximize your audience and really to
titillate them too often -- I'm not saying all the time -- then
you're going to -- at some point, you're going to do live
executions. You're just going to say, "God, we've got to get
something that's new and fresh." And, Lord knows, a live execution
TERENCE SMITH: Right. Carol, I assume over the years there have
been some big fish that have gotten away?
ROSS JOYNT: Yes. I mean, there are -- one of my biggest fish, and I
imagine she'll never do an interview, is Leona Helmsley. I don't
know, Jeff may be getting somewhere with her, I don't know. But I
found myself sitting at dinner with her one night with her giving me
all the reasons why she should never do an interview, and though I'm
working for somebody and they're paying me and I'm going to do
everything I possibly can to get that interview, I find myself
privately sitting there thinking, "She's right; there's no reason
for her to do an interview." So that happens. But there were people
I was probably never going to get -- Princess Diana.
JEFF ZUCKER: Carol, did you tell her that?
CAROL ROSS JOYNT: No, of course not. I'm working.
JEFF ZUCKER: I wouldn't have.
CAROL ROSS JOYNT: But Princess Diana.
TERENCE SMITH: You tried to get her on?
CAROL ROSS JOYNT: Of course. I mean, everybody wanted to get the
big interview with Diana, and I wrote her letters probably monthly,
and you assume they're just going into this big void. You get
answers back, but they're not from Diana. And one night I found
myself at a dinner in Washington, and she was there, and I was
introduced to her, and when she heard my name, she said, "I get so
many letters from you." I was stunned.
TERENCE SMITH: Did it help?
CAROL ROSS JOYNT: No, it didn't do any help at all.
KEN AULETTA: But what about -- what about the other angle, when
you work so hard to get an interview with someone, is there too
often an implicit -- I don't mean explicit, I mean implicit--
condition that you're going to be gentle?
CAROL ROSS JOYNT: No, not at all.
JEFF ZUCKER: Speaking from my standpoint, absolutely not. I don't
think so, Ken. I mean, I think that it's -- I think a lot of times
what happens is that we can't afford that because, you know, we're
only as good as our credibility, and also for the person that you're
booking or that you're asking to do an interview with, you know, the
best thing they can do is come on and do a credible, serious,
hard-hitting, serious interview. It better serves them and it better
-- it obviously, you know, is what's important to us.
||TERENCE SMITH: But Carol, I would assume you do have
to persuade the subject that there's some sympathy there - or some
appreciation of their situation.
ROSS JOYNT: No. You know, newer booking -- what booking has become,
as well as journalism, is that you're practically a lawyer
negotiating also, especially nowadays when publishers control so
much of who goes where, when, and how and there's contracts and so
forth that have to be signed. But it is a relationship. At its best
it's a relationship. The booker is the front line of that
relationship, but in the end you're going to be putting the person
you're after down with an anchor, host, talent, whatever you want to
call them, another person, and they have to have a certain amount of
trust toward each other. But the - what Ken was talking about, it
comes up. People say, "Well, what about Larry's questions or Ted's
questions or who?" And you just, you say, "Well, we don't go there,
we don't talk about that, that's not dealt with."
TERENCE SMITH: Ken Auletta, there's another issue here. People
have suggested that it's something very close to checkbook
journalism, a backhanded form, perhaps. Is it?
KEN AULETTA: Well, I mean, there are some bookers with some
tabloid shows that do actually pay and some newspapers pay. Most
credible journalistic organizations, "Today Show" doesn't, Koppel
doesn't pay the people, but if you have someone down for a weekend
and you pay them first-class and maybe you bring some of their
family with them, and you set them up with dinner and shows, I
assume -- I read that that goes on, I assume that that goes on. And
if you have someone doing a book and they are -- and you are the
first stop on their book tour, there is real value to some of these
things. Now, it isn't cash, it isn't a written check, but there's
TERENCE SMITH: Jeff, there's great value, I'm told, to authors
who want to appear on the "Today Show". It is believed to be one of
those shows that really sells books. So that's an incentive. But is
there any problem with that?
JEFF ZUCKER: I don't think it's a problem as long as -- you know,
as long as we're not -- you know, as ken said, we're not paying for
that interview, we're giving them a platform to talk about their
book, but, you know, we're interested in the book as well because we
assume that this is a book that some -- that our audience should or
would want to know about. You know, so just as we are interested in
talking to that author, it works for the author as well, that it
gives them a platform to sell their book and, you know, I'm hopeful
that when Ken is finished with his next book, he'll want to stop on
the "Today Show" and sell his book.
KEN AULETTA: In a minute.
JEFF ZUCKER: Done. Ken, done.
TERENCE SMITH: What about "Monica's Own Story"?
JEFF ZUCKER: In terms of coming on the "Today Show"?
TERENCE SMITH: Yes.
JEFF ZUCKER: Well, I mean, her people know, Monica knows that we
would love for Monica to come on the "Today Show." I think that
actually this is a perfect example of what Carol was talking about
that she's going to do this two-hour taped interview with Barbara.
You know, I think that a little while later after that buzz has died
down, the dynamic of coming on the "Today Show" for a live
interview, a life television interview, is quite different than that
two-hour taped interview and would probably work to her advantage
and we'd love the opportunity to do that.
CAROL ROSS JOYNT: I was one of the people who thought Monica
should never do anything, that she should just stay quiet and
mysterious, but then you see her legal bills and she doesn't have
TERENCE SMITH: Right. All right. Thank you all three very much
about the get game.