SCOTT PELLEY: “TRUTH WORTH TELLING”

June 22, 2019 at 4:30 am

“60 Minutes” correspondent and veteran journalist Scott Pelley takes us inside some of the stories that shaped his career and shares his perspective on the current state of journalism.

Aired on June 21, 2019.

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GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO
"METROFOCUS."
I'M JACK FORD.
BREAKING NEWS, POLITICAL BATTLES
WORLD CHANGING EVENTS.
THE JOB OF HOLDING A MIRROR UP
TO THOSE EVENTS AND REPORTING ON
THEM IS AT THE HEART OF
JOURNALISM.
AND ONE MAN WHO HAS BEEN AT THE
FOREFRONT OF THE INDUSTRY IS 60
MINUTES CORRESPONDENT AND
VETERAN JOURNALIST SCOTT PELLEY.
FROM RISKING HIS LIFE RUNNING
TOWARD GAZA ON 9/11 TO REPORTING
ON THE FRONTS LINES OF IRAQ AND
AFGHANISTAN, FOR 45 YEARS, HE
HAS GIVEN THE PUBLIC A CRUCIAL
LOOK INTO CONTEMPORARY LIFE
ACROSS THE GLOBE.
NOW, HE IS SHARING HIS
EXPERIENCES FOLLOWING THESE
MAJOR STORIES AND THE PEOPLE
INVOLVED AND AFFECTED BY THEM IN
HIS NEW BOOK TITLED "TRUTH WORTH
TELLING A REPORTER'S SEARCH FOR
MEANING IN THE STORIES OF OUR
TIMES."
I'M DELIGHTED TO HAVE A FORMER
COLLEAGUE AND FRIEND, SCOTT
PELLEY.
>> GREAT TO BE WITH YOU ON
"METROFOCUS."
>> YOU'VE BEEN INTERVIEWING ME
IN THE PAST.
I GET A CHANCE TO ASK YOU
WONDERFUL QUESTIONS.
I'M GOING TO START OFF WITH THE
FACT IT'S A MARVELOUS BOOK.
>> WELL, THANK YOU.
>> IT'S A MARVELOUS LOOK INSIDE
OF STORIES AND THE NOTION THAT
AND YOU KNOW THEY FROM "60
MINUTES," THE BEST STORIES FOCUS
ON THE PEOPLE AT THE CENTER OF
THEM.
YOU READ THIS AND I THINK THE
BEST REACTION PERHAPS THE ONE
YOU'RE LOOKING FOR IS YOU SAY TO
YOURSELF, I DIDN'T KNOW THAT.
I DIDN'T KNOW THOSE STOW
STORIES.
I DIDN'T KNOW THE BACKGROUND.
CONGRATULATIONS TO DOING THAT.
THE BOOK ITSELF AND THE
STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK, IT'S SORT
OF TRUMPETED AS A MEMOIR BUT
MEMOIRS TRADITIONALLY, THE
AUTHOR SAYS THIS IS WHO I AM,
HERE'S WHERE I WAS BORN, HERE'S
WHAT I DID AND THAT'S FINE.
THIS IS NOT REALLY THAT.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE NOT TO DO A
MORE TRADITIONAL MEMOIR AND TALK
ABOUT THE APPROACH YOU DECIDED
TO TAKE. ->> WELL, JACK, I WANTE
A MEMOIR BUT I DIDN'T WANT TO
WRITE A MEMOIR ABOUT ME.
IT HAD OCCURRED TO THAT I HAD
MET SOME OF THE MOST INTERESTING
PEOPLE IN THE WORLD WHO HAD
DISCOVERED THE MEANING OF THEIR
LIVES DURING SOME OF THE MOST
DIFFICULT MOMENTS IN RECENT
HISTORY AND THERAPY VERY
INTERESTING PEOPLE.
SO I DECIDED TO ORGANIZE THE
BOOK ACCORDING TO VALUES AND
VIRTUES.
EACH CHAPTER HAS A TITLE, FOR
EXAMPLE, GALLANTORY,
SELF-LESSNESS, VALOR, DUTY AND
THEY'RE STORIES ABOUT THE
INDIVIDUAL PEOPLE OR GROUPS OF
PEOPLE THAT EXHIBITED THAT VALUE
DURING HISTORIC MOMENTS.
FOR EXAMPLE, THE FIRST CHAPTER
IS ENTITLED "GALLANTORY," AND
IT'S ABOUT THE MEMBERS OF THE
FDNY, THE FIRE DEPARTMENT OF THE
CITY OF NEW YORK THAT I SAW AT
GROUND ZERO ON 9/11.
>> YOU MENTIONED IN LOOKING AT
THAT STORY, YOU TALK ABOUT THE
FACT AND WE'VE HEARD SO MANY OF
THEIR STORIES AND MANY OF US
KNOW PEOPLE WHO LOST THEIR LIVES
IN THERE, FIRE DEPARTMENT
PEOPLE.
AS YOU ALWAYS SAY ABOUT THE TRUE
HERO, THE FIRE PEOPLE, THE
POLICE PEOPLE, THE EMERGENCY
SERVICES.
THEY RUN IN THE DIRECTION OF
DANGER WHEN THE REST OF US ARE
RUNNING AWAY.
AND I WAS STRUCK BY YOU TALKING
ABOUT THE FACT THAT THEY DIDN'T
EVEN REALLY KNOW WHAT THEY WERE
GOING INTO AND YET, IT NEVER
KEPT THEM FROM ACTUALLY GOING
INTO THAT.
TALK A LITTLE BIT.
WHAT THAT SAID TO YOU IN TERMS
OF THE VALUE OF THEIR LIVES AND
THEIR SACRIFICE.
>> WELL, I WATCHED SO MANY
FIREMEN GO INTO THE TOWERS
AGAINST JUST THE CHANCE THAT
THEY MIGHT BE ABLE TO SAVE
SOMEONE.
AND IN DOING THE RESEARCH FOR
THE BOOK, I FOUND MANY RADIO
TRANSCRIPTS, 911 TELEPHONE CALL
TRANSCRIPTS, ET CETERA THAT
PAINT THE PICTURE OF WHAT WAS
HAPPENING IN THE BUILDING, THE
GALLANT FIGHT TO CLIMB THE
STAIRS AND TO TRY TO PUT OUT THE
FIRE IN THE STAIR WELLS TO CLEAR
A PATH FOR THE PEOPLE ABOVE THE
POINT OF IMPACT TO BE ABLE TO
COME DOWN.
AND SO WHEN I SAW THOSE FIREMEN
RUSHING INTO THE BUILDING
KNOWING WHAT THE RISKS WERE,
THEY DIDN'T KNOW THAT THE
BUILDING WOULD COLLAPSE.
ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I LEARNED
IN ALL OF MY RESEARCH WAS THAT
NO STEEL TOWER HAD EVER
COLLAPSED DUE TO FIRE IN THE
HISTORY OF THE WORLD.
SO THE CHIEFS, CHIEF GANSI AND
HIS DEPUTY CHIEFS WERE DOWN
THERE AT THE MAND CENTER NOT
EXPECTING THE BUILDING TO FALL
DOWN.
AND YET, THEY SENT THOSE MEN
INTO THE BUILDINGS TO FIND THOSE
PEOPLE WHO THEY MIGHT BE ABLE TO
SAVE, SO MANY STORIES OF
GALLANTORY FROM WITHIN THE
BUILDINGS THEMSELVES.
IT OCCURRED TO ME, JACK THAT,
WHEN THE FIREMEN WENT INTO
THOSABLES THEY DIDN'T KNOW WHAT
9/11 WAS ABOUT.
THEY DIDN'T KNOW WHO ATTACKED
US, BUT IT DIDN'T MATTER BECAUSE
THEY KNEW WHAT THEY WERE ABOUT.
EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM HAD
SWORN AN OATH YEARS OR DECADES
BEFORE TO HAVE PROTECT THE
PEOPLE OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK
AND HAD DECIDED BACK THEN WHAT
THEY WOULD DO ON THAT DAY.
AND AS YOU RECALL, 343 MEMBERS
OF THE FDNY WERE LOST ON THAT
MORNING.
THE LARGEST LOSS OF LIFE OF ANY
EMERGENCY SERVICES IN WORLD
HISTORY IN A SINGLE EVENT AND IF
THIS BOOK DOES ANYTHING AT ALL,
JACK, I JUST HOPE IT PAYS
ADEQUATE TRIBUTE TO THAT
SACRIFICE.
>> YOU DO GET A SENSE OF THE
VALUE OF THEIR LIVES.
SOMETHING YOU MENTIONED WAS THE
CHAPTERS AND HOW YOU DECIDED TO
BREAK THEM DOWN.
YOU SAID THERE ARE QUALITIES
HERE.
MOST OF THEM ARE EXEMPLARY, YOU
MENTIONED GALLANTORY,
SELFLESSNESS.
A COUPLE TALK ABOUT DECEIT AND
HUBRIS AND ARROGANCE.
FIRST QUESTION, WHY BREAK IT
DOWN THAT WAY?
AND THEN GIVE ME A SENSE OF SOME
OF THE SORT OF GENERAL
CHARACTERISTICS AND CATEGORIES
AND WHO POPULATED IN THE BOOK
THOSE DIFFERENT CATEGORIES.
>> JACK, I WAS WHEN I WAS
ANCHORING THE CBS EVENING NEWS A
FEW YEARS AGO, I WAS THERE
DURING THE ISIS ATTACK THAT
KILLED 120 PEOPLE IN PARIS.
AND I NOTICED ALL THESE PEOPLE
COMING TO THIS MAKESHIFT
MEMORIAL THEY HAD SET UP ON THE
STREET THERE, CHILDREN, MEN AND
WOMEN CARRYING CANDLES AND
LAYING THEM DOWN ON THE
COBBLESTONE STREET.
AND I LOOKED IN THEIR FACES AND
THERE WAS THIS LOOK OF BEW
BEWILDERMENT LIKE WHAT'S LIFE
ALL ABOUT IF THIS KIND OF THING
CAN HAPPEN.
AND IT OCCURRED TO ME AT THAT
MOMENT THAT I HAD SEEN THOSE
PEOPLE BEFORE, THAT I HAD SEEN
THEM AT THE WORLD TRADE CENTER
ON 9/11, I'D SEEN THEM IN
OKLAHOMA CITY WHEN THE MURRAH
FEDERAL BUILDING HAD BEEN
BOMBED, THIS LOOK OF WHAT IS THE
MEANING OF LIFE.
AND I THOUGHT IN THAT MOMENT
MAYBE WE'RE ASKING THE WRONG
QUESTION.
DON'T ASK THE MEANING OF LIFE.
LIFE IS ASKING WHAT'S THE
MEANING OF YOU?
AND SO THAT HE ANIMATES THE
ENTIRE BOOK ON THE SIDE OF THE
ANGELS AND ON THE OTHER SIDE
THAT YOU WERE JUST DESCRIBING,
HOW CHARACTER IS DESTINY, HOW
VALUES MATTER AND SO I WANTED TO
EXAMINE SOME OF THE PEOPLE THAT
I HAD KNOWN AND MET IN MY CAREER
ON THE SIDE OF THE ANGELS AND
ALSO SOME OTHERS TOO OFTEN
POLITICIANS, WHO EXHIBITED
TRAITS OF DECEIT AND HUBRIS AND
WHERE THAT LED THEM ON THEIR
PATHS.
>> AND YOU'RE VERY HONEST ABOUT
YOUR ASSESSMENTS HERE.
CLEARLY, THE EXEMPLARY
CHARACTERISTICS YOU CAN TELL
THOSE STORIES.
THEY'RE PEOPLE WHO ARE TRULY
HEROES AND WE OFTEN SAY THAT THE
BEST DEFINITION NOW WE
UNDERSTAND HEROES ARE ORDINARY
PEOPLE WHO WHEN CONFRONTED WITH
EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES OR
THE GREAT CRISES OF THEIR LIVES
FIND THEMSELVES CAPABLE OF DOING
EXTRAORDINARY THINGS.
WHEN YOU LOOK AT DECEIT AND
HUBRIS AND DECEIT, YOU'RE VERY
HONEST.
YOU'RE NOT PULLING PUNCHES AT
ALL.
>> WE'RE IN THE HONESTY
BUSINESS, AREN'T WE?
IN JOURNALISM.
>> WE SHOULD BE.
WE'LL CONTINUE THAT CONVERSATION
AT SOME POINT.
WE LIKE TO THINK WE ALL ARE.
>> BUT FOR EXAMPLE, THE CHAPTER
ENTITLED DECEIT IS ABOUT
PRESIDENT CLINTON AND THE TIME
THAT I WAS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE
CORRESPONDENT FOR CBS NEWS AND
THE MONICA LEWINSKY MATTER
BROKE, AND THEN THE IMPEACHMENT
OF THE PRESIDENT OCCURRED AND
THE TRIAL IN THE SENATE.
THE CHAPTER ENTITLED HUBRIS IS
ABOUT THE 2016 ELECTION AND IT
APPLIES I THINK TO BOTH
CANDIDATES, TO BOTH SECRETARY
CLINTON AND DONALD TRUMP IN
THOSE DAYS.
AND WHERE THAT LED THEM N. THEIR
PURSUIT FOR THE PRESIDENCY.
SO NOT ALL OF THE PEOPLE I'VE
MET IN MY CAREER LIKE YOU ARE
HEROS.
AND SO I THINK THERE'S A LOT TO
LEARN FROM THE TRAGIC
CHARACTERS, AS WELL.
>> LET ME ASK YOU THIS ABOUT
YOUR PURSUIT OF THESE STORIES
AND THE WRITING OF THE BOOK.
AS YOU KNOW, FROM THE GREAT WORK
YOU'VE DONE OVER THE YEARS AT
"60 MINUTES," I WAS FORTUNATE
ENOUGH GREAT GOOD FORTUNE TO DO
SOME STORIES FOR "60 MINUTES"
SPORTS.
I KNOW HOW TALENTED THE STAFF IS
AND HOW DEVOTED EVERYBODY IS TO
THE PURSUIT OF GOOD JOURNALISM.
BUT ONE OF THE THINGS I THINK
YOU PROBABLY AGREE WITH ME IS
THAT YOU START OFF WITH A
STORIEN AU HAVE AN IDEA WHERE
THAT STORY IS GOING TO GO, BUT
SOMETIMES WHEN YOU GET THERE,
YOU'VE FOUND SOMETHING
COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FROM WHAT
YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE GOING TO
FIND WHERE YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE
GOING TO GO.
SO YOU STARTED OFF WITH AN IDEA
TO DO THIS BOOK.
ONCE YOU FINISHED IT, DID YOU
FIND IT HAD TAKEN YOU SOMEPLACE
MAYBE YOU HADN'T ANTICIPATED
THIS JOURNEY WAS GOING TO TAKE.
>> YOU THAT'S A GREAT QUESTION.
AND THE ANSWER IS IT TOOK ME TO
A LOT OF PLACES I DIDN'T
ANTICIPATE.
ONE OF THE INTERESTING THINGS
ABOUT BEING AN EYEWITNESS TO
HISTORIC EVENTS IS YOU DON'T
KNOW THE VERY MUCH.
ALL YOU KNOW IS WHAT YOU SAW.
>> PEOPLE MIGHT FIND THAT
SURPRISING BECAUSE THEY MIGHT
THING YOU'RE THE ONE WHO HAS TO
KNOW.
>> LET ME GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE.
I'M DOWN ON WEST STREET AT THE
WORLD TRADE CENTER NUMBER ONE
AND IT COLLAPSES IN FRONT OF ME.
SO I WITNESS THAT EVENT BUT I
DON'T KNOW THE WHY IT COLLAPSED.
I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE FIRE
FIGHTING STRATEGY WAS.
I DON'T KNOW WHERE THE FIREMEN
WERE OR WHAT THEIR ORDERS WERE
AND WHAT WAS GOING ON INSIDE
THAT BUILDING.
BUT IN THE INTERVENING YEARS,
I'VE BEEN ABLE TO GATHER AN
ENORMOUS TROVE OF RECORDS OF
VARIOUS KINDS, THE NATIONAL
INSTITUTES FOR STANDARDS AND
TECHNOLOGY, FOR EXAMPLE, DID 53
ENGINEERING STUDIES ON WHY THE
BUILDINGS COLLAPSED.
AND I WENT THROUGH ALL OF THOSE.
I WENT THROUGH ALL THE RADIO
FREQUENCY TRANSCRIPTS OF THE
FDNY AND THE PORT AUTHORITY
POLICE AND THE N YP PD.
I WENT THROUGH ALL THE 911 CALLS
THAT CAME OUT OF THE BUILDING.
AND IN PUTTING ALL OF THAT
TOGETHER, NOW IN THIS BOOK, I'M
ABLE TO INFORM WHAT IT WAS I SAW
WITH MY OWN EYES AND MAKE SENSE
OF WHAT I SAW.
SO IN THAT REGARD, I LEARNED A
LOT OF THINGS THAT WERE
SURPRISING TO ME.
AND.
GOING THROUGH THE OTHER CHAPTERS
IN THE BOOK, EVEN THOUGH I WAS
AN EYEWITNESS TO THESE HISTORIC
EVENTS, IT WASN'T UNTIL I HAD
WRITTEN THE BOOK AND DONE THE
RESEARCH THAT I FULLY UNDERSTOOD
THEM.
>> IT IS A MARVELOUS LOOK AT AS
YOU SAY IN THE TITLE THE STORIES
OF OUR TIMES.
AND THIS REFLECTION ON WHAT THEY
ALL MEAN AND WHAT OUR LIVES
SHOULD MEAN TO OURSELVES AS
WE'RE DEALING WITH THESE THINGS.
NOT SURPRISING GIVEN THE QUALITY
OF YOUR WORK OVER THE YEARS THAT
THIS IS A WONDERFUL BOOK, AND I
THINK ANYBODY WILL ENJOY READING
THIS.
SCOTT, GREAT WORK.
PLEASURE HAVING YOU HERE WITH
US.
>> JACK, THANK YOU SO MUCH.
I APPRECIATE THE OPPORTUNITY.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

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