Thursday, May 07, 2009

Candy Crowley Question & Answer

Since you all took the time to put in some questions, I wanted to answer all of them. I put your name at the top of each answer, so you can avoid reading the entire thing and just scroll down to your name. And thanks for asking. - Candy Crowley

Phebe: First, I’d like to say thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Those of us who write for the blog, and our readers, are great admirers or yours. Let me lead off the questions with one we ask all of our participants. It’s a great way to get to know the person behind the TV personality. Could you tell us a little about your hobbies, favorite authors, favorite episodic television, things in your life that you are the most proud of, etc? Also what’s on your iPod and what's in your Netflix queue?

Hobbies: I love to swim alone and play bridge (not at the same time). The number of bridge players has dwindled so I don’t play much now, but I do swim daily.

Authors: I could chew up cyberspace on this. I would have to start with William Faulkner. I thought As I Lay Dying was brilliant. Saul Bellow: Herzog and Humboldt’s Gift. Truman Capote: In Cold Blood was chilling. I’m currently reading Go Down Together: The True Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde by Jeff Guinn. Yes, I am drawn to stories about the darker side of human nature and the human struggle.

TV Series: In Treatment, Nip Tuck, Big Love,

Hands down, I am proudest of my children.

IPOD: Vinyette (my son’s band), Cat Power, Snow Patrol, Ray Charles, Neil Young

Netflix: I’ve Loved You So Long, Tell No One, 3:10 to Yuma, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The Lives of Others

ACAnderFan: Candy, what is it like to be on the road all year during an election season? What do you miss the most about home?

The road can be really fun (sometimes we laugh so hard at the absurdity of the life style). I’m privileged to be able to watch ground level democracy and get to know the people who might become president. But, it is physically brutal (sometimes I am very cranky). You take planes, trains and automobiles; fly from one end of the country to another or drive across Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, etc. You are carrying 40-50 lbs worth of equipment, a 25 pound purse and dragging a suitcase. I am totally covered in bruises during election years. There were more times than I’d like to remember when we got to the hotel after midnight and had leave by 4:30 or 5 the next morning. Oh, and we cover things and file stories. Every once in a while my producers and I would look at each other and say, “I wanna be a normal person.”

Tedi B: Candy, I wanted to let you know that I really enjoy your stories and your take on things! Do you find it hard to "hide" your feelings or opinions when you are interviewing someone you totally disagree with? How do you deal with it?

My Dad always used to say, “Never criticize a man unless you’ve walked a mile in his shoes”. It’s how I approach my interviews. The interviewee has something to say, born of experiences I haven’t had. I am so curious to know what they think that my opinions just don’t pop into my head. No interview is about me or what I think.

Snooks: Candy,Have you ever experienced discrimination being a woman in the journalism field particularly early in her career – also how did you choose journalism and how did you got started?

Absolutely I’ve experienced discrimination in my career and watched it happen around me as well. At my first place of work, the general manager told me that audiences would never accept a woman’s voice as the voice of authority. I’m not kidding ,and it wasn’t even the Dark Ages. I kicked around Washington for a while after college doing temp jobs but eventually got into news as a gopher at a small radio station in Washington, DC. I know this doesn’t qualify as “the vision thing”, but I needed a paycheck. I always wanted to be a writer. I wanted to write the Great American Novel. I also needed to pay rent, eat and all those other things. Then I had children and was a single Mom. I fell in love with journalism after the fact.

Book Asylum: How did the opportunity to talk to President Bush in the oval office at the end of his term come about? I believe you covered President Bush's 2000 campaign, what difference could you see in the President from then and now?

I pitched the White House for an “exit” interview with then President Bush. I “knew him when”. I first met him when I was covering the campaign of Bob Dole and we went to Texas a lot because they could turn out a crowd in what remains a pretty Republican state. I then covered him during his second campaign for Governor, followed quickly by his 2000 Presidential campaign. I used to interview him all the time, so I pitched this interview as a kind of “full circle” event.

He was a very different man in some ways, but the same in others. He seemed glad to see a familiar face and we talked a bit about the “old days”. He was not nostalgic particularly. He seemed genuinely to be looking forward to going home to Texas. He is a very energetic “up” person, but he looked incredibly tired perhaps because of the non-stop good-byes that consumed the final weeks.

His feelings about his family and the loyalists around him were as deep as ever and his sense of humor was in tact, but there was a melancholy about the former President that I had never seen. That was the most striking to me

Claire: If you could do an hour special on CNN what subject would you choose?

Two of them.

I think we need an hour on Afghanistan: what’s the mission? What will it take? What’s it like over there? How do they feel about us? Are we prepared to fight in the mountains with people who have been living there for decades? Why can we succeed when so many countries before us have not?

I have also always wanted to do an hour on mental health: advances for schizophrenics, what’s new in the treatment of depression, the status of mental hospitals. But mostly I am gripped by the images I see on the streets of almost any big city. I used to work for the Associated Press and there was a Mark Twain quote often cited, “There are only two forces that can carry light to all the corners of the globe, the sun in the heavens and the Associated Press down here.” I want to carry light to American streets. I’m off my soap box now.

Maren: Candy, All Things Anderson, as you know, is devoted to Anderson Cooper and to AC360 in general. If you had only three words to describe Anderson, which 3 would they be? (Expanding into why would be nice too).

Anderson is focused, watchful and quick. I think you have probably see evidence of the latter on air. I’m not sure how to explain the others; he just IS all those things. So because I can’t quite answer part of your question, here are three more: he sees the silliness in things, is always a gentleman and has been a supportive friend.

Kitzel: Is it an advantage or a disadvantage to be persistent, as Ed Henry was in questioning the President, any President, not only this one? Aren't you limiting access if you are rebuffed as Ed Henry was? Is it a "catch 22"?

No good journalist asks a question or doesn’t ask a question based on how it will impact access. I can guarantee you Ed never gave it a moment’s thought. I’ve had plenty of people angry with me, threaten to never arrange another interview, call my bureau chief, etc. All of them eventually cooled off. They understand our job. We understand theirs.

Em: I remember hearing your son is in a band. Can you tell us a bit more about your children and how you have managed to balance being a mother with your very successful career as a correspondent?

My oldest child is a neurosurgeon and just married a rheumatologist (and soon I will learn to spell that). They are headed to New Zealand at the end of the month to practice there for a year. (do NOT get me started) . My youngest son is the one in the band (Vinyette ) in New York. They just put out their first CD and had a great turnout at a New York venue. I have two step children who I love and adore. My daughter still dabbles at being a news producer, but she is mostly a Mom these days .Her brother lives way too far away in Kansas with his three children.

I tell people that balancing career and children is not a daily act. It’s a minute-to-minute act. When the kids were young, they would inevitably call the bureau when I was crashing to get a story on air. These were known as “Crowley Kid Calls.” At deadline time, I asked whoever answered the phone to give the kids the “three B” test: Is anything broken, burning or bleeding? And if not, I’ll call right back. One day the oldest said “BLEEDING” and I was home in 15 minutes and at the hospital in 30.

I think no matter what, parents end up wishing they had done some things differently, been there at times they weren’t, regret things they did or didn’t do. Then I look at my grown up children and they take my breath away. They are jaw-droppingly wonderful , warm, talented human beings and they love me and seem to want to be around me. Maybe I didn’t do everything wrong.

Quitty: You are on the road a lot. What is a must-have in your suitcase when you travel on assignment?

If you won’t tell anyone, I’ll answer. I never travel without my silk sleeping bag with pillow cover. It folds into a case about the size of a mini-umbrella. I remove the blankets and sheets in hotel rooms and use the sleeping bag. This started years ago, way before we found out there’s an outbreak of bed bugs. I hope nobody reading this owns a hotel.

Bridget Ann: With the 2008 Presidential campaign, you were on the campaign trail for an extended period of time. How did you stay energized and not get burned out?

I think there is a natural adrenalin or serotonin boost journalists get when they cover a story. Covering the campaign is like reading a really good novel. You can’t wait to see what happens next. Still, everybody gets burned out. There were times I was so tired I would wake up and cry. When it got that bad, I either holed up in a hotel in Chicago for a couple of days or went home for the weekend.

Maryanne: Do you have any memorable on-camera moments that didn’t go as planned?

Here is a secret: almost nothing ever goes the way you planned on live TV. There was the day I was interviewing then Senator Howard Metzenbaum (from Ohio). We were outside and it was really windy and the light fell over on him. He ducked so quickly that all you saw on the TV screen was Howard Metzenbaum and then no Howard Metzenbaum. Just a blank screen. (no one was hurt while filming that story).

Routinely during the 2000 Bush campaign, I would throw back to Wolf Blitzer and call him “Bush.” I’ve called John Roberts -Anderson and Lou Dobbs -Wolf. I once turned to interview someone I had set up for a live shot and they were gone. Finishing up a liveshot from New Hampshire (in the snow) , I kind of shifted my feet and fell backwards off a small wall I didn’t know was there. My producer and I started laughing so hard I couldn’t get up to tell the anchor I was ok.

Cyn: We miss your posts on the 360 Blog. Why do you blog so infrequently these days?

I love doing those blogs and I love hearing from you all (ok MOST of you) but in a thousand different ways I am a perfectionist. There were so many things to write about and share with you on the campaign, but since it ended, I have felt as though whatever I would write would be subpar. I have tried to start them so many times and end up feeling as though they aren’t any good, so I stop. I believe the technical word for this may be writer’s block. I will try harder, really because the AC360 people are always after me to write.

Pati Mac: I am a jewelry person and I love unique pieces. I would like to know more about your vast collection of amazing necklaces and hear a story or two on where they were collected. Do any hold special meaning? Do you have a favorite, and if so why?

When the kids were young I think they had trouble seeing the person on TV and relating it to their Mom at home. (Particularly when I was on TV and at home at the same time) . One of them made me a clay necklace at school. I wore it on air and he got so excited to see “his necklace” on TV. I still have it. So they all started to give me necklaces (some of them homemade, some purchased with the help of their Dad) and they just got such a kick out of it.

Over the years it snowballed, parents, brothers, friends, and my nieces who call me and say “Aunt Candy, you had on my necklace today”. My producers give me necklaces for Christmas.

They have come from everywhere -- 2nd great art class to Puerto Rico. The collection includes the “diamond” necklace my (5-year-old) grandson got me at the store “5 Below” and a blue jade necklace from Tiffany’s my Mom gave me. I could not for a minute pick out a favorite. Literally, every time I put one on, I think of who gave it to me and it makes me happy. BTW, my children still give me necklaces, still notice when I wear them and they have great taste.

Kristien: When can we expect a book full of Candy wit?

I would so love to write a book. I have at least 4 that I have plotted in my head. Whether I have the attention span to do it is another question. Soon, I hope soon.

J in La: Dear Candy: When you are a participant on a panel and asked a question, how do you determine the boundary you will set in terms of conveying your answer with analysis and context without it straying into commentary and opinion. If you have been so immersed in a subject for so long, how do you convey to the viewer what you are saying is analysis of a situation rather than your experience or opinion as that is not a line I would assume you would want to cross as a journalist. And as a follow-up do you find it hard as a journalist to be a part of these panels where opinion can be mixed easily with analysis when you can be paired with "pundits" and not just with other journalists who may not have your standards?

The advent of panels mixing journalists, commentators and analysts is a real challenge: for the viewer who can be confused about the roles, and for journalists on those panels who do not want to cross the line into commentary. Nothing means more to me than someone saying, “I can’t tell where you stand” or “I think you’re fair”. So I want to protect that. I’ve been a reporter for a long time and it’s put an automatic “edit” in my head that I hope keeps me from giving my opinion. It helps that the more I know about an issue, the more I see gray, not black and white.

M in Oregon: With the plethora of social networking sites, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, My Space, pod casts, etc., exploding are there any you find useful in your reporting?

Speaking of challenges, wow, the internet has added several more hours to the day. Some blogs and a lot of websites have become must-reads to weigh what the right, the left and the middle are saying about a particular issue. Facebook, Twitter and My Space are increasingly places to gather up some news because so many politicians and newsmakers are using them. But, I tell ya, it’s very hard to keep up.

Viewer in Virginia: What do you like most about broadcast journalism, as opposed to print journalism, and why? Also where did you go to college and what was your major?

I have been a print reporter, a radio reporter and a TV reporter. The jobs were far more alike than different. Print, radio and TV are not journalism; they are venues through which you put your journalism. And journalism is journalism.

When the pictures work with the words, there is no more powerful way to tell a story than on television. Radio is more intimate and not yoked to the need to have pictures, but for purity of the craft, it’s print. It’s you, a pad and pencil and a telephone. 99 percent of the time people will go much farther in a phone interview or over a cup of coffee than they will when you turn the camera on. The camera simply changes things.

I went to Randolph Macon Women’s College. Majored in English and Economics.

Penny: What is the best part of your job and what is the worst?

The best part of my job is the people I meet, interview, and almost always learn from, whether it’s The President of The United States or a homeless man on the streets of Washington, DC. It is not so much that I learn facts from them, but that I learn about life, about people, about the infinite ways to look at things. It’s amazing. The worst part is worrying about hair and makeup. In my next life, I’m still going to be a journalist, but a male journalist.

Dutch: Out of all the stories you've covered which one has been the most emotional, and why?

Many stories move me for many reasons. Here are two.

The streets of New York after 9-11. There was unrelenting and overwhelming sadness in the crowds of people milling around on the streets, telling stories and putting up posters, “looking” for their daughter, son, brother, mom, dad who had been in the Twin Towers. It was all but unbearable to watch and report because both towers had come down so what you heard in story after story was desperate hope. I held it together the whole time I was at work, but I would get back to the hotel, turn on the shower to the hottest water I could get, then got in and sobbed. I felt like I had grief in my pores.

I also did a series of stories leading up to the Gulf War trying to understand what all these young military troops would go through. I talked with Representative Duke Cunningham, Rep., Charlie Rangel, then Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, former Senator Bob Dole, Senator Daniel Inouye and Senator Chuck Hagel. All served in combat in three different wars. Most were wounded. Most were awarded medals for valor. I asked: what were you thinking the night before you went into battle? Who did you think about? What was combat like the first time? What was it like to kill someone? What lingers with you now? I was blown away by their still raw emotions and by their honest. Several of them cried (almost always when I asked about having to kill the enemy). Almost all the answers from these tough veterans and seasoned politicians were poetry.

Sapphire: What was the turning point in the Presidential election on the Democrat and Republican side, or was there one?

In the primary season, his Iowa victory was the turning point for candidate Obama. It proved a black man could win in a nearly all-white state (especially important for black voters who at the time were mostly behind Senator Clinton) It also destroyed the idea that candidate Clinton was “inevitable”. What clinched it was that the Obama campaign prepared for the long haul and put people or systems in place in every state for every primary. The Clinton people basically thought it would be over by Super Tuesday (early February) and simply were not as well positioned for a lengthy 50 state primary.

In the general election, John McCain had so many headwinds I question if there was anything he could have done to win. If there was, it disappeared the day he said “the fundamentals of the economy are strong.” I had many economists tell me at the time that the statement was technically correct. Politically it was a disaster. It enabled the Obama campaign to hammer McCain as out of touch. People were hurting last fall and the economy didn’t feel strong to them, fundamentally or otherwise.

Can’t believe there is anyone left reading at this point but thank you all for asking me into your forum. ~ Candy

Candy Crowley is as modest as she is talented. I not only read every one of Candy's interesting answers, but reread them several times. This has to be my favorite Q & A to date, I'm just such a huge fan. Thank you so much Ms. Crowley. ~Phebe

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All Things Anderson is a blog dedicated to CNN's AC360 and its host Anderson Cooper.


Anonymous said...

Phebe: So glad to see the compilation of Q&A from Ms Crowley. It must have taken you hours and we all appreciate the time and effort you put into doing all of this for ATA.
Hope you didn't have to do this on your vacation.
Thanks again, Kitzel

On_Love_Street_With_Jim_Morrison said...

I haven't read all the questions and answers, will do that tomorrow. However I did want to thank Candy for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer questions.

Tedi B said...

Thanks to Candy for answering our questions! I really enjoyed the read.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I enjoyed this a lot, thanks Candy ! I liked what she said about wanting to cover stories on mental health issues like breakthroughs in the field of depression and schizophrenia.
I also loved what she said about reading books that talk about the darker side of human nature. It seems that many reporters/journalists/anchors have that as a defining personal attribute, they seem drawn to chaos, despair and understanding evil.

And finally I also truly found it inspirational when Candy talked honestly about women being disciminated in the journalism field. I had wondered about this several times, because I noticed that women do have a harder time even in the less obvious subtle things, and are more easily written off. I understand journalism is hard for just anyone but it is clear it's harder for women.

Even though Anderson Cooper has gotten a lot of criticism when he got emotional during Katrina, he got way more approval for it...had it been a woman getting emotional, I don't think she would have been coined with the term "breakthrough in the way we see journalism" or "the human side of journalism" or even "emo-journalism". She probably would have been written off as doing what women do: show emotions. And nothing else. Well hopefully I am wrong...but those are just my personal thoughts, don't mean to generalise or say this is how everyone should see things and maybe it does not even reflect reality but this is how I see things. Women are always expected to appear very tough if they want to appear credible. anyway this is a whole nother discussion and I am so into the mood for food now !

I really appreciate this interview Phebe. Thanks

Viewer in Virginia said...

Thanks to Ms Crowley for the answers to our questions. Really appreciate the thoughtful answers.

catlewis said...

Thanks for coordinating this Q & A, and Ms. Crowley for answering. It was very insightful. I do miss her posts on the blog; hopefully she'll get back in the habit.

snooks said...

Phebe - thank you for posting the Q&A with the amazing Candy Crowley

I have long been an admirer of her work and want to thank her for taking the time to answer all of our questions

Anonymous said...

I think it's great that Candy talks about her personal life and balancing family. It's nice to see someone in the public eye who is not dysfunctional.

On discrimination, I remember an interview with Barbara Walters who was telling about her early days as the first female anchor. There was so much discrimination that her male co-anchors would not speak to her after the camera turned off. Congratulations to Candy for living through the Dark Ages of television news.

Candy's done a great job of making a life, career, and family.

If she had been born male and the son of an heiress, I can't help but think the show would be called CC 360 (Candy Crowley 360).

Laurie Beth said...

Fascinating stuff, and of course we read the whole thing! Thank you, Ms. Crowley, for being so generous!

@ Anon 2:46 "If she had been born male and the son of an heiress, I can't help but think the show would be called CC 360 (Candy Crowley 360)."

That's assuming that she would want that job. That's not the vibe I got from the Q&A--she strikes me as someone who prefers being a correspondent to being an anchor.

Anderson is fortunate to have been able to do both and to have his own show--but that is because he worked his butt off, not because he's the son of an heiress. It's a shame that that isn't clear to more people.

Anonymous said...

"I think it's great that Candy talks about her personal life and balancing family. It's nice to see someone in the public eye who is not dysfunctional."

You mean like Anderson, Erica, and Jack?

OregonMJW said...

Just pretend for a moment we are in a darkened studio. Two chairs and a small table. Key lights and subtle side lighting illuminating two journalistic professionals. Edward R. Murrow occupies one chair, sans cigarette; and CNN's remarkable Candy Crowley sits in the other. Remember this is a fantasy. They begin.

For the next hour, Mr. Murrow poses a wide variety of interesting questions to Ms. Crowley about her life and profession and she, in turn, answers them like the pro she is. Each answer is full of information, full of the flavor of not only the question - all of which are brilliant - but of the woman answering them. Her life, her history in the profession, her family, the trials and travails of a long campaign, the name dropping earned over decades at the head of her class in the business. What a tour de force! Smart, interesting, informative, funny, poignant; even creepy (bed bugs?).

It's a fascinating hour of television that played out in my head as I "watched" your guest, Phebe, graciously let us into her life, and see through her eyes. Great production on your part; and congratulations to all the ATA "staff" writers too.

Just a little taste of what it might be like to produce a segment of AC360. What tremendous fun to have participated. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

@2:46pm: "If she had been born MALE," that's the entire point, the male/gender related issue, is it not??" I agree with the anon who said if it was a SHE who showed emotion during Katrina, she would have been "written off." Absolutley, no question about that, even if "SHE HAD WORKED HER BUTT OFF," to quote someone else on this post. That glass ceiling has not been broken. No way, no how, she could have stood in a hundred hurricanes with little or no recognition.

Kristien said...

Thank you Candy for answering our questions!

Lots of great questions asked by everyone, great to read.

Laurie Beth said...

If you actually read what I said, I didn't imply one single iota that Ms. Crowley did not work just as hard as Anderson did. I think it's clear that she did, and the only thing I said about her is that we should not assume she ever wanted to be tied to an anchor desk. Not everybody wants to do that.

I was merely defending Anderson against the snide comment that he is only in the position he's in because of his mother, which is BS.

Anonymous said...

Even though I respect Ms. Crowley, I don't feel she was forthcoming with my question.
I had asked if Ed Henry would meet opposition down the road because of his persistence with President Obama, and Candy replied, "that most journalists don't give it a thought." I happen to know Bob Woodward of Watergate fame, gave it a lot of thought and he was often quoted as saying, "There's a fine line between what a journalist can ask and still GAIN access." He of course went on to interview both W. and Nixon and has established himself as "the journalist," of our generation.
AC even said, that HE never gained access or an interview with W. because of Katrina. So I do take issue with her answer, but then I don't think Ms Crowley was about to criticize Ed Henry, her colleague, and I respect her for that.
Let me also add that President Obama, failed to call on one Fox News reporter, in his last interview, because Fox network, did not choose to carry his conference, or so it is thought.
All of the questions posed to Ms. Crowley were very insiteful and I enjoyed reading them.

Em said...

Phebe thank you so much for getting this Q&A. It was fabulous.

I have always felt an affinity with Candy for some reason. Now I know why. LMAO on the three B's. When my son was young, my supervisor was very adverse to our children contacting us at work (ironically, we worked for CPS!) Anyway, I told my son not to call me unless he was bleeding or vomiting. Sure enough, his teacher called me to tell me he had vomited and asked if I could pick him up. When I arrived, she told me he had been ill all day and she had asked him earlier if he wanted her to call me. He had promptly replied, "I can't, I haven't thrown up yet." Oh the guilt of the working mom!

"As I lay Dying" by Faulkner was the first novel I remember reading.

In addition, my family showers me with a specific gift. Unfortunately, I'm not near as smart as Candy. Instead of beautiful jewelry, I get piggies (don't ask!)

I love Snow wondering if her son's record is on iTunes!

Impressive women, and personally, I thought she was pretty honest!

Coop1223 said...

Thanks to Candy and everyone at ATA for setting this up. And thanks to everyone who asked all the great questions! I couldn't think of anything that didn't sound ridiculously lame but you guys were great!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful to read the comments and thoughts by Candy Crowley. Very interesting answers and, yes, I did read straight through to the very end. Thank you for your straight-news reporting for all these years!

Congratulations on your new Sunday morning program!

steverino1111 said...

Candy you are bright,funny,and hot