The television news business was changing significantly in 1997 when Bob Iger, president of ABC at the time, tapped a lawyer named David Westin to lead the network’s news division. The Big Three networks were losing profits, 24-hour cable news channels such as CNN, FOX News, and MSNBC were gaining prominence, and The Walt Disney Company had just purchased ABC. Many of Westin’s peers were surprised by Iger’s decision to appoint Westin, but for the next 14 years, Westin kept the news division profitable, scored some programming successes, and coped with an era of constant cost-cutting. Westin struggled to smoothly transition the division into the digital Internet news age, according to some industry insiders, but he did reinvigorate ABC’s morning news program, “Good Morning America,” by partnering Diane Sawyer with Charles Gibson as the show’s co-anchors. Westin’s new memoir, “Exit Interview,” documents his experience as head of ABC News. He joins Patt on the show today to trade news biz war stories.
Excerpted from Exit Interview by David Westin, published in May 2012 by Sarah Crichton Books, an imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright ©2012 by David Westin. All rights reserved.
David Westin, president, CEO, NewsRightt; former president, ABC News