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Remembering Ed Bradley

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Thursday, November 9, 2006

Tipsters Alerted Media to Gerald Levert Death

"60 Minutes" to Dedicate Full Hour to Newsman

"The full hour of 60 MINUTES will be dedicated to the memory of correspondent Ed Bradley, who passed away Thursday," the network announced Friday. "The special memorial edition, in which close friends, his best work and the story of his remarkable life will be featured, will be broadcast Sunday, Nov. 12 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network."

The rest of the news release:

"Steve Kroft speaks to Bradley's closest friends who share their rich experiences of him off camera to reveal the kind, generous lover of life that he was for those who only knew him on camera. Among those speaking about the other Bradley, affectionately known as 'Teddy,' are close friends Jimmy Buffett, the musician, journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Wynton Marsalis, the artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center.

"Marsalis will pay tribute to his friend with a trumpet solo at the end of the hour.

Morley Safer reviews and puts into context the contribution Bradley made to 60 MINUTES with his distinctive body of work estimated at 500 stories. Bradley's best moments will be highlighted in this eloquent retrospective.

"Lesley Stahl looks back on Bradley's rise from a tough Philadelphia neighborhood to the heights of journalistic achievement and national recognition as one of America's most esteemed television personalities.

"In true 60 MINUTES fashion, Andy Rooney will contribute a remembrance as well."

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Tipsters Alerted Media to Gerald Levert Death

A Cleveland anchor's friendship with singer Gerald Levert led to WOIO-TV being first on the air with the news of the death Friday of R&B singer Gerald Levert, according to Jamie Innis, an executive producer at the station.

"I was friends with Gerald" through working at the station, Sharon Reed told Journal-isms. Sources close to the family "knew I liked him and loved his music so the news broke quickly," she said. She said she had known Levert about five years. The station went on the air with the story after it was confirmed, she said.

WOIO broke into its regular programming at about 2:45 p.m., Innis said.

Levert, 40, died at his home in Newbury, Ohio, according to news reports, possibly after a heart attack.

He first gained fame back in 1986, as a member of the trio LeVert. The group produced such hits as "(Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop) Goes My Mind," "Casanova" and "Baby I'm Ready."

He was the son of O'Jays singer Eddie Levert and went solo after his work with the LeVert trio, but joined with R&B singers Johnny Gill and Keith Sweat for the supergroup LSG.

His death "is a huge deal. This is the royal family of R&B here in Northeast Ohio," John Soeder, pop music critic of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, told Journal-isms.

Soeder wrote paper's news story about Levert, which will be on the front page at the top of the left-hand column on Saturday, according to Chuck Caton, a deputy news editor. "He's from Cleveland; this is the music town," Caton said.

The paper learned of the death after "we started getting calls this afternoon from people who heard on the radio that he had died," Soeder said.

Reed taped a tribute to Levert that can be viewed on the station's Web site. The Plain Dealer's Web site featured a photo gallery and links to its "music forum" discussion group.

Levert leaves four children.

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Colleagues, Admirers Remember Broadcast Icon

Edited comments recalling Ed Bradley:

  • Ron Allen, NBC News correspondent:

A few weeks ago, while watching "60 Minutes," my wife and I noticed that Ed Bradley didn't introduce his story on camera sitting there in that familiar chair. Then, when his story began, we immediately noticed his voice sounded frail and weak. It was all a bit alarming. Just before that, he'd covered the Duke rape case. Yet another exclusive. Sometime before all of that, we had exchanged e-mails. I wanted to sit down for another chat. One of those talks we'd been having every now and then over the past 20 years or so, dating back to when I got my first job in this business at CBS News.

I'm writing this because, while we mourn his passing, and chronicle his extraordinary achievements as a reporter, it is not possible to overstate how important he was, and will continue to be, for a generation of African American journalists like myself. He, simply put, was "the man," who so many of [us] dared dream that one day we could maybe, just maybe, achieve just a bit of what he did.

While there have been and continue to be influential black journalists in this business, Max Robinson, Hal Walker, Bernie Shaw, Bryant Gumbel, Jacqueline Adams, Carole Simpson, to name just a few, Ed was the dean of that rare club. Here was a guy who was a foreign correspondent. Only a handful of minority journalists ever have done that. He was a White House correspondent. The first black man CBS trusted to do that. Few of us ever get there. He was an anchor, and of course for the last 25 years or so, he was there in our living rooms Sunday evenings, often a bit late after the NFL football clock wound down, and then "60 Minutes'" clock began ticking away.

I can remember years ago asking him, "So, how the heck did you do it?" The answer, as I recall was, "hard work." Doing your homework. Never getting typecast to do only the "black stories." And, something he said to me recently again, "you've got to really believe you can get where you want to go." Sounds so simple. And like all things we watched him do on television, he said it simply, painly, but with a powerful and compelling matter-of-factness that made even the most complicated elusive notion seem so obvious and clear.

Just to be clear, we weren't close friends. I do wish I'd known him better. I last saw him briefly at an Emmy awards event, and before that over coffee in New York, during yet another "Ed, how should I handle this?" moment. Our connection was from that knowingness he had of everything younger reporters like me were experiencing, and his openness and willingness to share his wisdom and time.

On that day, ironically, he talked about how he was feeling much better, heading to the gym before all the young guys got there, and got in the way, how the travel covering the nation and the world was wear[y]ing, and how though approaching retirement age, he wasn't going anywhere.

Don't get me wrong; this isn't just a black and white thing. But it is not possible to overstate how much of an inspiration he has been, because he was in so many ways able to transcend so many barriers, and to do it years ago, when the country and our business was not nearly as "diverse" as it now strives to be.

He was a real genuine authentic guy who even had the audacity, or self-assuredness, to wear an earring on TV, on CBS News. You've got to be sure of who you are to do that. That's probably one reason he was such a great reporter. It's easy to imagine him in the streets of Philadelphia years ago, or at Cheyney State College, a proud historically black college, not Harvard or Yale, or spinning records at WDAS-FM. Years later, he had a distinctive ease and confidence about him, whether interviewing criminals, comedians, politicians or just plain folks.

His contributions to broadcast journalism and to our nation's knowledge of the world we live in are immense. His contributions to our culture, and to the hopes and dreams of other journalists of color, are beyond the words and stories he told with such elegance, compassion and grace.

  • Alice Bonner, journalism faculty, University of Maryland:

Bob Maynard confided that Ed Bradley was in Los Angeles reporting a "60 Minutes" piece on Jonathan Winters ("Funniest Man Alive") and that he might be persuaded to detour and speak to my students in the Class of 1986 Summer Program for Minority Journalists at UC Berkeley. But Bradley said no; he was to start his vacation the day after the story was done. We persisted and Ed finally, graciously agreed, undoubtedly out of fondness for Maynard. His talk was serious, bordering on solemn, stressing the importance of professionalism as the journalist's first duty. It was a high point of the summer. A few years later, I ran into him at the New Orleans Jazz Festival, wearing shorts and a T-shirt, drink in hand, gleefully grooving with the Neville Brothers onstage. It was a joy to see another side of the dedicated newsman. Sunday nights will never be the same.

  • Melissa Cornick, investigative producer, ABC News "20/20"

I remember very early in my career, I was working in the Cronkite Documentary Unit and after pondering for a while, I walked across the hall to "60 Minutes" to Ed's office and told him I wanted to work there. He left to talk to another person, who I won't name. Later, she told me I would be "60 Minutes'" "affirmative action hire." I was stunned by the comment, but believe I was the first black associate producer at "60 Minutes." Ed was helpful, patient and no matter the story, he always had a world of knowledge behind his eyes.

One day, he had a bright idea of giving a house party for the staff after taking a class in French culinary arts. When we arrived, we discovered that he had decided to prepare rabbit for dinner. (He was having a ball—chef's hat and apron.) I told him I wouldn't eat it. Either he was really angry or he feigned it, but he teased me in French so badly all night. To my surprise, when we all sat down to dinner, he revealed a plate of delectable flounder that he'd whipped up just for me. I hope Ed continued to live life the way he wanted. His death is completely unexpected; almost unbelievable. The world will lose a pretty good chef, an aficionado of great music, a top journalist and a wonderful man.

  • Charlayne Hunter-Gault, veteran journalist who was with Bradley when he died, in the New York Times:

I think people might want to characterize him as a trailblazer for black journalists. I think he'd be proud of that. But I think Ed was a trailblazer for good journalism. Period.

He just kept hitting the road [despite his illness.] Every time I talked to him, he was tired. I'd say, "Why don't you go home and rest?" He'd say, "I just want to get this piece done." He was proud of what he did. But he never allowed that pride to turn him into a star in his own head. In his own head, he was always "Teddy."

  • Jackie Jones, veteran journalist, Jones Coaching, LLC:

My lasting memory of Ed was seeing him throw down on the dance floor at a party after the NABJ awards ceremony one year, celebrating with Charlayne Hunter-Gault, who had won an award. Earlier that evening, he had been the epitome of poise, grace and class in his tuxedo, introducing prize winners. Later that night, still tuxedo-clad, he was on the dance floor woofing to "Atomic Dog." He was funny and self-effacing and never thought he was too big to rub elbows with the hoi polloi.

  • Debra Lee, chair and CEO, Black Entertainment Television:

Ed Bradley represented a special generation of African-American journalists—one who proudly, but somewhat quietly, carried the mantle of pioneer. He was the consummate professional whose most probing and controversial questions still represented the very best in journalist ethics and news judgment. Ed was a favorite of our BET News division. He often lent his voice and expertise to help us deliver the news from an African-American perspective. We will miss him. [CBS journalists often appeared on the old "BET Nightly News" after BET was bought by Viacom, which also owns CBS. Bradley also hosted a "town hall" meeting, "BET Open Mic: Secretary Colin Powell Speaks to Our Youth," in the runup to the war in Iraq in February 2003.]

  • Peggy Lewis, Howard University broadcast journalism professor, on BlackAmericaWeb.com:

He was the consummate professional. I could always show his stories to my students and say, "This is the standard of excellence to strive for." I was watching the election night coverage earlier this week, and we did not have enough people of color delivering the news. How could these networks put up four live screens and all of them not have anyone of color on the most important night of news coverage? I know Ed Bradley would have had something to say about that. The void that Ed Bradley leaves behind, I feel, is felt much greater because we're not where we need to be. We're training them, but this is just a huge loss.

  • Wynton Marsalis, musician, artistic director, "Jazz at Lincoln Center":

Marsalis asked that announcers read this introduction to public radio's "Jazz at Lincoln Center Radio," which Bradley hosted:

Perhaps you've already heard the sad news that a great journalist and a great lover and supporter of jazz, Ed Bradley, has died at the age of 65. Ed was a deep fan of jazz and a board member and special friend to us at "Jazz at Lincoln Center." He was the host of many of our live events, and we could see his love of the music as we watched him keeping time and smiling. We could feel his love of the music in the time he took from his "60 Minutes" schedule to host these radio programs.

You are about to hear one of the programs that was recorded shortly before he died, and we know that as you listen, you'll hear Ed's great love for jazz culture and jazz music.

Thank you, Ed, for sharing your time and your passion with us.

  • Stephen C. Miller, assistant to the technology editor, New York Times:

My favorite memory of Ed Bradley was my argument with him on the phone during the fall of Saigon. I think I was on the nightside assignment desk at CBS News, which means I dealt mostly with the foreign bureaus. Ed wanted to stay and cover the North Vietnamese takeover of the south. The last words in English spoken on the CBS News Saigon bureau phone were me screaming at Ed to "get on the [expletive deleted] chopper." Fortunately, he did.

  • Bryan Monroe, president, National Association of Black Journalists; editorial director, Ebony and Jet magazines, in the Washington Post:

He was an icon not only to black journalists, but to journalists at large. While there may have been a script, he was open to improvisation, spontaneity and going where the story took you. He stayed authentic to who he was.

  • Greg Morrison, broadcast producer, former news director, Black Family Channel:

When NABJ was in St. Louis, Ed Bradley was a speaker. He reminded us that during times of slavery, Blacks who could not worship with whites on Sunday would have their own services, often in a "clearing in the woods." They would sing, dance. shout and offer praise in their own fashion. Bradley told the group that NABJ was "our clearing in the woods." Today, there is sadness and grief in that space

  • Gil Noble, producer and host of WABC-TV's "Like It Is," in the New York Daily News:

The civil rights movement opened doors for a lot of us. Ed Bradley was so singular that he rose rapidly. . . . I must say that Ed Bradley acquitted himself magnificently. He repaid all that was invested in him and the movement.

  • Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., at a meeting of journalists of color, quoted in the Chicago Defender:

There were a couple of characteristics that always struck me about Ed. One was his intelligence; another was his fairness. And one of the things I think that was most important about Ed - and I think this is something that all of you have to deal with, and to some degree something that I have to deal with in my position in the United States Senate - is that he had the capacity to speak universally without abandoning his very specific background and cultural ties.

  • Soledad O'Brien, co-anchor of CNN's "American Morning," in the Miami Herald:

When you studied his interviews, you were watching something special. He had this disarming manner. He was very gentle, but absolutely direct and to the point. He was great at the follow-up. He would smile and ask and ask and ask until the person crumbled and finally answered. He was an amazing listener and an amazing story teller. And that voice, it was so deep and rich; it conveyed what words couldn't.

  • Byron Pitts, CBS News correspondent, on the "CBS Evening News":

He was not a friend, he was more like a father figure. And in this world, for people who look like me, a father figure was a big deal.

  • Gary Anthony Ramsay, president, New York Association of Black Journalists:

NYABJ joins the chorus of journalists from around the globe who are pained by the loss of Ed Bradley. He was not only a lifetime member of this organization, he was one of the cornerstones of its creation. Without his work and leadership, it is safe to say that many of us would not be in journalism today.

Ed was an inspiration to generations of journalists of all races, everywhere. When you say his name, it means "Excellence in reporting," something many aspire to. Seeing Ed in Vietnam and Africa as a child was one of many moments that led my feet to Kosovo, Haiti and Iraq. His work has led a countless number of us to our own travels to cover stories here and around the world. Knowing someone who looked like us was involved in the very important task of recording history told us that we could do the same thing.

Even after arriving and continuing to work at the pinnacle of his career, Ed remained one of the most accessible correspondents at the national level. A month ago, I called Ed for advice on a career matter and during what would now be our final conversation, he ended with, "If there is anything you think I can do to help, please don’t hesitate to call." The first time I met him it was in a jazz club, a place he loved to be. That is the Ed Bradley I knew and will never forget.

There will many more eulogies and memories more eloquent, passionate and poetic that this. So of Ed Bradley and of his inspiration and his place in making a place for us, I will borrow from Langston Hughes:

I, too, sing America

I am a darker brother

They send me to the kitchen

When company comes

But I laugh and eat well

And grow strong

Tomorrow

I'll be at the table,

When company comes

Nobody'll dare say to me

"Eat in the kitchen" then

Besides

They'll see how beautiful I am

And be ashamed

I, too, am America.

Go with God Ed, We miss you already.

  • Carole Simpson retired ABC News anchor, on NPR's "News & Notes":

I first met Ed in the '70s. I think it was about 1975 or '76 and he was covering the White House and I was little, low person on the totem pole and here was this big Ed Bradley. And he couldn?t have been nicer to me. I?ll never forget that.

And I don?t know that many people know how much impact he had on the African American community. He was the annual emcee for the A Better Chance Program in New York City that would raise maybe a million dollars for young African American students to get special training before they went away to college.

And he also ended up giving a scholarship to the Radio-Television News Directors Foundation, where I was already giving a scholarship for young people interested in majoring in broadcast. So he cared deeply about the future journalists and, as I say, he wasn?t proud about that, he didn?t brag about that kind of thing. But I think it?s important that people know that.

As a person, he was extremely funny. You know that he was very smart, so he always had a quick retorts for any kinds of comments and was fun to be around. I?m sure the people who worked with him ? I now hear that at "60 Minutes" he could be a tough taskmaster. But I didn?t know him under those circumstances, so he was always someone of good humor and of fun. I remember meeting him at the White House when he had come back from covering the Vietnam War and had been in Cambodia. And he was this strapping, very muscular, handsome man, right? And through the years, I watched him mature and his hair turned gray and all of those kinds of things, but I saw him in March and he ? I hugged him and he was very thin.

And it was such a contrast to when I had first met him. And I guess that was some indication then that things were not going so well. But yet he worked right up to the last minute. He was a committed, dedicated, pioneering journalist who should be in our history books, not to be forgotten.

  • Sree Sreenivasan, professor at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, co-founder of the South Asian Journalists Association:

Ed was an inspiration to ALL of us. He set the standard by which every journalist of color will always be compared. No reporter—of any color—had his range, his drive and his style.

  • Reginald Stuart, veteran journalist and McClatchy Corp. recruiter

Ed gave true meaning to the word cool. He never wavered in his pursuit of serious journalism, even when the winds suggested style would get you further up the ladder. He endured much personally and professionally and maintained his sense of humor and style throughout. He's left an indelible, positive mark on our profession and has served his country well. [The two were honored at the same dinner last year when Bradley received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Black Journalists. Stuart won the Ida B. Wells Award.]

  • Robin Washington, editorial page editor, Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune:

All I can say is that in my younger days in NABJ, I remember being on the dance floor a few feet from Bradley. He had received an award at the convention, but after all the formal stuff, he partied with the rest of us. And what really struck me was he couldn't dance any better than I could! Made me feel better about myself and my be-like-Ed ambitions in innumerable ways.

  • Rep. Melvin L. Watt, D-N.C., chairman, Congressional Black Caucus:

. . . a skilled broadcast journalist with a distinctive body of work. During his extraordinary career, Mr. Bradley was one of broadcast journalism's luminaries who worked on an incredible array of stories after joining the CBS newsmagazine in 1981. Mr. Bradley set an exceptional standard for journalism students and professionals everywhere, particularly African Americans.

  • Marc Watts, president, Signature Management Group, former CNN national correspondent:

Ed Bradley was the ultimate role model for any African-American male broadcast journalist. He knocked down so many barriers for us. "60 Minutes" to this day is still my favorite television program, and to watch it from hereon without seeing him will seem like something is missing.

I have so many fond memories of interactions with him during my days at CNN. Whenever he showed up on the scene, we all knew to ratchet it up because we didn't want to get scooped by him, but no matter what story it was, he always scooped us! I can remember during the Simpson criminal trial, he showed up at the courthouse. He was just as big as any other celebrity who rolled through. Later that week, on Sunday night, I turned on "60 Minutes" and there he was with a sit down one-on-one interview with Johnnie Cochran. I knew Ed was up to something. I was mad, too, because I knew I had gotten beat on something during the O.J. trial. That's the kind of journalist he was. No matter what his friendships were in the press corps, his desire was to beat us all on the story.

He was in L.A. so much during the early 90s that I used to joke with him that he might want to get an apartment here. Brush fires, floods, Rodney King beating, Reggy Denny beating trial and O.J. --he filed reports on all of that.

In New York once, we were sitting down having a drink and I asked him whether he considered himself a Black reporter or a reporter who happens to be Black. He said, "Marc, I'll never forget where I came from, but when you boil it all down, I'm just a journalist who happens to be Black."

Today the news world lost a great journalist.

Video, Audio Histories Available

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More on Ed Bradley

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Media Blog Touts Bradley's "Pimp Years"

The blurb Thursday on Mediabistro.com's Fishbowl NY was innocent enough:

"If you're looking for your Ed Bradley fix today like us, CBSNews.com has cobbled together a sweet Ed Bradley video channel that includes vintage Bradley interviews (like Bradley's April 30, 1975 account of the end of the Vietnam War, above) and â?? more importantly â?? vintage Bradley styles."

But the headline was, "Video: Ed Bradley: The Pimp Years."

"Can't a black man ever escape the pimp analogy?" asked one member of the National Association of Black Journalists e-mail list.

On Friday, editor Dylan Stableford acknowledged that,

"On the word "pimp": To me, it is an endearing, descriptive term that I often substitute for "cool" when I need an extra kick to it â?? "motherf*cking cool," if you will â?? though as I have been reminded today, it isn't always used that way. My headline was merely referring to Bradley's 1970s wardrobe in the clip I selected. Bradley was also one of my sartorial heroes, although it hasn't quite translated the way I had hoped.

"I suppose I could've gone with "Ed Bradley: The Motherf*cking Cool Wardrobe Years," but he was always that way. As I learned in a writing class once, your first, gut instinct is usually best. In this instance, perhaps it wasn't. I apologize if the post offended anyone."

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Brazile, Steele in Joint C-SPAN Appearance

Donna Brazile, the Democratic political strategist who managed Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign, is scheduled to appear on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" on Sunday with Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, the black Republican who lost his U.S. Senate race in the state on Tuesday.

Steele's chief of staff said Friday that Steele would consider replacing Ken Mehlman as chairman of the national Republican Party, but he hasn't been offered the job, the Associated Press reported. Mehlman announced he intends to step down.

"Washington Journal" airs from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Eastern time.

Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site BugMeNot.com provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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