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Larry King Live

A Fond Farewell to Bernie Shaw

Aired March 8, 2001 - 9:00 p.m. ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: When the world watched war explode over Baghdad during Operation Desert Storm, he was there.


BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: It feels like we're in the center of hell.


KING: When a stunned nation mourned after the Oklahoma City bombing, he was there. When students died for democracy in the Tiananmen Square massacre, he was there. And when the world's first global network launched in 1980, he was there...


SHAW: The president said beginning this summer...


KING: ... becoming the anchor of record for the network of record, and now after more than two decades covering history, CNN Bernard Shaw anchor himself says goodbye.

Good evening. This is special. I don't know if it's a pleasure for me or a sad occasion to have as our special guest for the entire hour tonight the retired Bernard Shaw, CNN anchor since the network's beginning in 1980.

Why? How could you be retired at such a -- how old are you, Bernie?


KING: All right. That's very young in broadcasting, very young in anything now.

SHAW: Very young, very young.

KING: Why? Why would you leave?

SHAW: Well, I don't call it retiring, Larry. I call it stepping back, stepping back to get this autobiography written, the book that Random House has been waiting for nine years. I want to return to the embracing arms of my best friend, my wife, Linda, and to our two young adult children, Anil and Amar. And I want to look at the rose petals and master growing peonies.

KING: It's so much in your blood. I can't envision your not missing it almost immediately.

SHAW: I miss it already. I miss it already, but I'll try to get used to it.

KING: What -- was there a straw that led it over the camel's back? Was there -- did something happen? Was it you driving to work one day and saying, ah, this is it?

SHAW: No. This has been very methodical. Four years ago, when Tom Johnson, CNN's group chairman, was sitting across the table from me and my lawyer, Bob Barnett, I said: "Gentlemen, this will by my last contract. After the four years are up on February 28, 2001, I will be leaving CNN."

KING: Ah, so they knew it all along?

SHAW: Yes. I think they were hoping that I would change my mind. And Linda feared that I might do a 90-degree flip on her, but she saw that I was a man of my word and that I decided to walk the plank.

I'm committing anchor heresy. Most people in these jobs, as you and your viewers know, do not give them up. But a little voice inside this size 7 1/2 head has told me, Bernie, it's time to go.

KING: Now, you -- I remember when you signed the contract to do the autobiography. We spoke about it a lot. Couldn't you have written it while working?

SHAW: No. That's an impossibility. CNN is a very demanding news environment. Women and men at this network work extremely hard. There's no way you can devote 80 percent of your time to CNN and 20 percent to a book, or at least, I cannot.

KING: You came to CNN from -- directly from ABC. Right?

SHAW: Yes.

KING: And many of your friends, as I remember, at ABC told you not to go.

SHAW: Yes.

KING: Why did you go?

SHAW: I felt that this network, my favorite network, would be the last frontier in network television news. The same people at CBS, when I was at CBS for seven years, Dan Rather and everyone else, said, what are you doing? You're crazy. You're going to work for ABC news. Well, I went to work for ABC to cover Latin America and to cover economics here in Washington. And when I heard that a guy named Ted Turner was going to hire a friend and former colleague, Daniel Schorr and George Watson, I thought, maybe there's something going on there. And I talked further with Ted Turner and Reese Schonfeld, the first president of CNN, and I was convinced that this was the right thing to do -- and I've never looked back.

KING: During those early first days when there were cramped quarters and a lot of goofs did you ever say, I made a mistake?

SHAW: Never, never. There were times when I wondered whether we would get through the day, but through an hour, but I have never looked back.

KING: You envisioned the cable news network becoming what it became.

SHAW: Oh, I'd be lying through my teeth if I told you that 20 years ago I knew that we would be precisely where we are now. But I had faith because you had a man who had a concept. He had a colleague in Reese Schonfeld, who had some ideas, plus Ted was willing to spend his millions on CNN. And I thought, given his zeal, given his commitment, and given my commitment to journalism and professionalism, I want to do this, I want to be part of helping to build this network.

KING: What made a young black kid growing up in Chicago want to be in a business where he did not see people of his color much on the tube?

SHAW: It was not a matter of black or white. News is not black. News is not white.

When I was 13 years old, I decided that I wanted to be just like that man, and that man was Edward R. Murrow and later Walter Cronkite. I used to stand up dates to watch their specials on Sunday.

No, it's not a matter of color at all.

KING: But you never said to yourself, because I'm this color, I'm going to have less of a chance to make it?

SHAW: Of course not. Why would I? Why should I?

KING: Because you had no role models to look to.

SHAW: No, I did. Edward R. Murrow was the best role model one could have, and his color, to me, was totally irrelevant, just like my color to young white boys and girls and Hispanic and Asian boys and girls whom I've talked with who want to duplicate what I've done, and perhaps, excel, my color is irrelevant.

KING: So you never said, this is going to be a roadblock to me?

SHAW: Absolutely not. Why should I?

KING: Our guest is Bernie Shaw. We miss him already.

We'll be right back, right after this.


JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Bernie, even when I was president, you brought a breath of fresh air to news broadcasting. We've been with CNN since it began and I want to congratulate you on your wonderful service and wish you well in the future.

We could use a good volunteer at the Carter Center. I hope you'll come over and join us and add your knowledge of the world to what we're trying to do there. Best wishes to you.




JOHN HOLLIMAN, FORMER CNN CORRESPONDENT: Another huge, loud burst from the ground. More (UNINTELLIGIBLE) going up into the air over the city.

PETER ARNETT, FORMER CNN CORRESPONDENT: We hear the sound of planes. They're coming over our hotel.

SHAW: The skies over Baghdad have been illuminated. We're seeing bright flashes going off all over the sky.


KING: Our guest is the recent -- I'm not going to say retired -- the recently -- what do we say here? Step back, Bernie Shaw.

I gather this is a personal wish and a guess that we -- you can't say we'll never see him on again. He's too much a part of the scope of things. But he's writing his autobiography and he's with his family. He's retired. We're going to cover lots of that career.

First, biggest change in television news you've seen in the last 20 years.

SHAW: Well, the biggest change is represented by this network, CNN. In effect, we created news on demand. Whenever viewers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, around the world wanted news, all they needed to do was turn to CNN on their television set. Always there.

KING: Are you a little worried that people are complaining that all of it is getting too glitzy, too tabloidish, too "How does it look rather than what is it saying"?

SHAW: No. I'm not a little worried, because our competitors can do what they will. Some television critics and competitors say that we at CNN are dull. I don't believe that for an instant. CNN is network television news' gold standard. I want us to become platinum. But we are the gold standard. And if people think we're dull, why is it that people watch when there are things of magnitude happening in their lives and on this planet?

KING: Bernie, do you have an aversion to the spotlight? I mean, Walter Cronkite once told me that if he had his way, the anchor would never be seen. Everything would be on film or tape and he would just be a voice-over. He didn't think an anchor should be a personality.

SHAW: Well, to your question, yes, I do have an aversion. One thing that most people don't know about me, that even though I earn my living on worldwide television, innately, I'm a shy person. I'm a very private man. I don't like adulation. I don't regard myself as a celebrity. I don't regard myself as a personality. And yes, I feel uneasy signing autographs and posing for pictures. That's just my nature.

KING: But it is a fact of life today: If you're on the tube, you're a personality.

SHAW: Yes, in the eyes of other people, but this is my way of keeping myself honest. I'm a reporter; I'm a journalist. I'm not a celebrity, not a personality. I'm not more important than the news I cover and the newsmakers I report on. That's just my attitude.

KING: And you're also very serious, aren't you? I mean, this is a serious business to you.

SHAW: It's an utterly serious business. People say, well, you don't smile a lot. Well, I'm not here to entertain. When we have amusing or funny news items to report, which are very few, I react accordingly. But most of the news we cover and report is very, very serious, and I take it seriously.

KING: All right. We're going to delve into some of those. One night I will forget as a broadcaster was the night that you came back from Baghdad. It was a Sunday night. Tom Johnson met you at the airport with our dear, departed friend and brought you to our studios. We did a Sunday night special. I've never seen anyone more tired. You admitted that night how scared you were. Tell us about the whole Baghdad thing.

SHAW: Well, I take this opportunity to, again apologize to my friend and colleague. In effect, I told you I didn't want to be on your show.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I don't want to be here.

SHAW: So I apologize again. But I was being bluntly honest with you. And I usually don't try to hide my emotions, and I certainly did not try to insult the intelligence of viewers and listeners around the world in the opening hours of the Gulf War as the bombs and cruise missiles rained in on targets in Baghdad. I felt that fear, the palpable fear that I was experiencing and that John Holliman and Peter Arnett were experiencing. I felt that that was part of the story; it should be reported. People would have thought me crazy if I had indicated no fear, no apprehension whatsoever.

You know, Tom Johnson said that he did not think that Arnett, Holliman and I would survive the night. I'd made my peace after about the second hour of bombardments. I made my peace with the fact that I could be going home air freight. I just made my peace with it and decided to focus on my job, reporting as best I could what I saw, heard and sensed.

KING: Ted Turner had a plane there. You could have left.

SHAW: Well, I was supposed to go the next morning. CNN had a twin engine jet at Amman Airport. It was going to be wheels up at daybreak. Lloyds of London had told CNN, if war breaks out, we're canceling the insurance in the plane. Remember, I had interviewed Walter Cronkite a couple of hours before the war broke out. And I was saying, well, Walter, by daybreak I'll be out of here.

And guess what, Larry? As I was saying that, the director of Central Intelligence, Judge William Webster, was in his office out in Langley, Virginia at CIA headquarters: A cot, pillows and blankets were being brought in. And when I said tomorrow morning I'll be wheels up, he looked at the television screen and smiled and said, no, you won't, Bernie. He told me that story later.

KING: Our guest is Bernard Shaw. I don't have to tell you who he is. We'll be right back.


GERALD R. FORD, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Bernard, it's a high honor and a very great privilege for me to join your countless friends in congratulating you on a superb career as one of the outstanding anchor men in the nation's capitol.

You were always fair, strong and well informed. I congratulate you on a great, great career and wish you the very, very best in your new endeavors.




SHAW: I came to cover a summit. I walked into a revolution.

The situation in Tiananmen Square is that it is a standoff.


KING: Another great event involving Bernard Shaw, our friend who is taking a little time off, stepping back, who has stepped back, Tiananmen Square. How were you there? And what was it like to be wiped off the air?

SHAW: Painful. Back to that in a second. CNN was there for that very historic summit between Deng Xiaoping and then Soviet Union General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. They were trying to heal the rift between Beijing and Moscow.

It was a very historic summit. That's why we were there.

There had been pro-democracy demonstrations in a few other cities, but in Beijing the crowds began to swell from more than 100,000 to a million people, no exaggeration, so much so the commotion in the streets forced one day Gorbachev had to be sneaked into the back door of the Great Hall of the People. You can get a sense of how intense things were in the streets.

Well, after a while, the demonstrations overshadowed the summit. And one day, two foreign ministry officials walked into our control room and said, you must end your satellite transmissions, your live transmissions around the world.

Larry, I am a child of democracy. I felt shivers and anger, and yes, rage to think that someone could abuse our presumed First Amendment rights and tell us stop doing what you're doing. Well, by the time I got back to my hotel room later that night, when I realized the enormity of what was going on, I just cried. I just cried.

President Bush was watching it at the Secret Service guardhouse in Kennebunkport, Maine. And you remember the U.S. government started issuing statements within hours that, well, during our coverage saying that we hope that the Chinese government will exercise restraint. To no avail. The appeals were to no avail. And of course, we know we had the subsequent carnage once the Chinese effectively blinded the world to what was going on.

We did transmit pictures, you'll recall, by telephone and what have you. We even had people secretly carrying out cassettes to feed- points in Tokyo and Hong Kong.

KING: Have you -- have you ever let that anger affect your reporting about China?

SHAW: Never, never, never.

KING: You can always separate the two?

SHAW: Yes, but there was one time when frankly I lost it. 1987, you recall two Iraqi warplanes fired Exocet missiles into the bulkhead of the USS Stark, the destroyer.

KING: Yep.

SHAW: Thirty-seven American sailors lost their lives. One day on the international hour, I was reporting the words of President Saddam Hussein of Iraq. And he was sending his condolences to the American people and to their families. And you know, I'm -- I'm a Marine. And I was quoting the leader of this state, and I thought about those 37 American sailors who never knew what hit them, who many of them were just murdered in their ranks as they slept. And to me Saddam's words rang very, very hollow. I started seething. I could actually see these guys aboard the ship, and I'm quoting these words. And I'm thinking, this is not right, and I just lost it. It's the only time.

KING: Why do Marines never stop being Marines? Why does every Marine always mention it? Why do they never forget being in the Corps?

SHAW: Oh, because of what you go through to become a Marine and because of the ethos, because of the history of the United States Marine Corps. You know, in the beginning, Marines were actually warriors who were on ships who engaged...

KING: As a part of the Navy.

SHAW: ... in naval -- naval battle. They still are. The Corps is part of the Navy.

KING: Yeah.

SHAW: But it is such a close fraternity, not a closed fraternity, but such a close fraternity. They and comrades in arms of course in the Air Force, the Navy, the Coast Guard, the Army who have given their lives, that is a tradition that is respected.

KING: Yeah, boy is it. We'll be right back with more of the career of Bernie Shaw. At the end of the hour tonight, we'll have his compatriots -- Judy Woodruff and Wolf Blitzer and Frank Sesno -- join us for their parting words on the leaving of Bernard Shaw, who is taking some time off. We'll be right back.


DAN RATHER, EVENING NEWS ANCHOR: Bernie, my long-time friend, my long-time colleague, always honored to work with you, honored to call you a friend and have you call me one, I wish you the best. Don't let anybody say it's retirement. I know what it is. It's moving to a new challenge and new opportunities. I wish the best.

A tip of the Stetson, and a salute, my friend. Stay in touch.



BILL COSBY, ACTOR/COMEDIAN: In all seriousness, I want to congratulate you for getting out on time. A lot of people don't know when to get out; myself, for instance. I'm still hanging around, still making people when to feel uncomfortable, but you knew when to get out, and you and I have been friends now ever since Chicago, 1963. Bernard Shaw, the man.




SHAW: We can report that shots were fired as President Reagan left the Washington Hilton Hotel following that address we carried live here on CNN.


KING: We're with Bernie Shaw. He's with us for the hour. One of the first major stories CNN covered was the Reagan shooting. Where were you?

SHAW: I was sitting at the anchor desk in the first Washington bureau at 2133 Wisconsin, because we had covered President Reagan's remarks live before the AFL-CIO meeting at the Washington Hilton Hotel. I summarized what he said and then tossed it back to the Atlanta anchor. That's where I was, sitting right there at the anchor desk.

KING: And then did they go right back to you?

SHAW: After a fashion, like a matter of moments. I heard a lot of commotion on the assignment desk, and I turned around, and I said, "What's going on?" And Sissy Baker, the daughter of Senator Howard Baker, was on the assignment desk, as was a man named Bill Hensel (ph), a real solid stalwart for CNN. I said, "Bill, what's going on?" He said, "Well, I think they're shooting at your president." I said, "Don't joke." He said, "I'm not kidding."

You know, we monitor all of the radio frequencies -- Secret Service, District of Columbia Police, whomever we can listen to. And he turned up the volume. You could hear this commotion.

I said, "What's going on?" He said, "Apparently shots have been fired at the president's motorcade."

I screamed to the control room and said, "Tell Atlanta to get right back to us."

We knew factually that, one, shots had been fired. We didn't know the status of the president. But that was news. And I went on the air with that shred of information. Then of course we stayed on the air for hour after hour after hour.

KING: Do you like broadcasting on the fly?

SHAW: I like to throw away scripts. I like it when news is breaking, and there's nothing between you and the story, and you are there exposed for all your worth, or not worth, and viewers can see what you're made of as a journalist, because there, in that instance, you're using every journalistic skill you ever mastered.

KING: And the danger, of course, is that's when mistakes can happen, as ABC reporting the death of someone who didn't die.

SHAW: Well, not just ABC, ABC and CBS -- White House Press Secretary James Brady. And I refused to report that Jim Brady was dead. Why? Because the White House had not confirmed it. And of course, CNN was right. We did not kill Jim Brady.

KING: Do you leave your emotion out of that story, too? I remember, we all remember your -- one of your heroes Walter Cronkite pretty much breaking up with the announcement of Kennedy's death.

SHAW: As much as possible as I -- I am an honest person, and if the emotions come out, they come out. We tend to regard showing emotion, we journalists on television or radio, as being unprofessional. But listen, I'm a human being first. So if the emotion is there, the emotion is there.

Can I go back to something you asked me about, about not having a black role model when I was growing up in Chicago? Not to be simplistic, but white is not right and black is not wrong. The only goal I've had in the 37 years in this business was to be the best of the best. And some of my revered people are white. Some are black. I just don't have a hang-up with color. I just don't.

I'm aware of racism in our society and all that but...

KING: I've never seen it bend into your reporting. I've never seen you mention it personally.

SHAW: No, no. My color is a positive. I'm proud of who I am and my heritage. I'm proud of all Americans from all backgrounds.

KING: You're a great credit to your race, Bernie, the human one.


We'll be back with more of Bernie Shaw...

SHAW: Thank you.

KING: ... on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


TOM BROKAW, EVENING NEWS ANCHOR: To the rest of the world, you may be Bernard Shaw of CNN News, but to those of us who have had the privilege of knowing you personally, and working alongside you professionally all these years, you'll always be Bernie, the consummate professional reporter, the most thoroughly agreeable personal friend that anyone in this business could have.

I've always loved this story, Bernie, about how, when you were a Marine in Hawaii, and you had aspirations of getting involved in this business, you had an opportunity to talk with Walter Cronkite, and then at a stage of your career, you had a chance to work alongside the founding father of the anchorman business, before you went off to lead CNN into the brave new world of 24 hour news around the world. You can look back on a career of so many firsts, so many accomplishments, but most of all, you can look back on a career of here-approval at every turn.

For me, my final memory will be of your account of what happened after that long election night in the year 2000. I read in the newspaper where you went back to your hotel room, ordered yourself a large breakfast, and poured yourself a Bombay dry martini at 11:00 in the morning. I knew at that point, once again, Bernie, you're a man of much larger appetite than even I am. All the very best. You deserve whatever you want to have in life.



KING: We're discussing the career of a great journalist, Bernie Shaw. Let's discuss some other aspects. The Space Shuttle Challenger explodes. Where were you?

SHAW: I was sitting in the Roosevelt Room, as were other network anchors, and we were getting a briefing on President Reagan's soon-to- be-delivered economic address to Congress. Chief of staff Donald Regan was at the table. An aide walked in, handed him a note, and Regan, also a Marine, his skin virtually dropped off his face. And he said, "Ladies and gentlemen, the shuttle has exploded."

And we just exploded from the table, ran out of the room, ran to the telephones, and that's how I found out about it.

KING: Those kinds of things, that -- and we'll hook that with Oklahoma City -- tragedy, loss of life. Are those the toughest things for a journalist?

SHAW: Well, for this journalist they're the toughest things. I came back from Oklahoma City after 2 1/2 weeks there depressed. And I -- I noticed that that happened to me on a couple of other stories. There is such a thing as post-traumatic stress. There are fits of depression, bouts of depression. Most of us, we're so macho, we walk around pretending that these are not factors. But let's be realistic: it's really heavy-duty.

I mean, to stand there yards away from this vertical tomb, to see the concrete mangled floors, the steel girders just jaggled, and to know that human beings on each floor of the federal Murrah office building cascaded downward into a permanent hell of death -- that has to affect you. And the fact that children were in the nursery on the first floor, and to think that one American can do this to his fellow Americans and to maintain your control.


... control.

KING: Yes. You have to act it out.

SHAW: To report it you have to inform...

KING: Yes.

SHAW: ... on what is going on.

KING: So what happens to you after you get off the air?

SHAW: Oh, after you get off the air, it's a matter of fitful hours of sleepless nights in a hotel room. And you hope that you get enough sleep so you can get up and go back to the site the next day to do your job. And you look forward to getting on a plane and going home and going into the house, into your wife's arms, and hoping that home and solace will help make you whole again.

KING: Yes. But you love it, right? You love being the deliverer.

SHAW: I've wanted to do this ever since I was 13 years old. It doesn't seem like work, and yet it seems like I've been doing this all my life.

KING: Our guest is Bernie Shaw. This is LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back.


SHAW: I've concluded that the people of Oklahoma City and indeed Oklahoma state are rock solid people. There's a poem that describes them, plays -- I quote to you, the poem Invictus: "Out of the night that covers me black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul."




SHAW: The first question goes to Governor Dukakis; you have 2 minutes to respond. Governor, if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?

MICHAEL DUKAKIS, 1988 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I don't Bernard, and I think you know that I've opposed the death penalty during all of my life.


KING: You've covered Iran-Contra, hearings, impeachment, scandals. Is that juice?

SHAW: Only in the sense of being a chronicler of human and world events. But I...

KING: So it's not something where they say, boy, you enjoy this?

SHAW: No. I get no kick from other people's or nations' misery.

KING: Do a lot of people in your business get a kick?

SHAW: Some do. Some I've known. Yes. KING: Are these kinds of stories tougher? Let's say there's a scandal involving and you know the president, be it Reagan, Clinton, whatever. Does that make it harder?

SHAW: No. Not for me. I'm not a Democrat or a Republican, and it's intentional. It allows me to do my job.

KING: So you're a registered independent?

SHAW: Yes.

KING: So you don't participate in primaries and the like?

SHAW: Generally no.

SHAW: I'm one who believes that really reporters don't have freedom of speech and freedom of expression, reporters. I'm not talking about analysts, commentators or columnists or editorial writers.

I cannot express my personal opinions. My personal opinions have no place in my work, no matter how I feel, and I feel very strongly about a lot of things and people and issues.

KING: I guess the most famous moment -- well, bag that, there are so many famous moments in Bernie Shaw's career -- but one that he will be most remembered for was the 1988 presidential debate. He moderated the vice presidential debate last year. The 1988 rape question to Dukakis. Ever have second thoughts about that question?

SHAW: No, no.

KING: Did you know you were going to ask it?

SHAW: Oh, yes. I started working on that question three days before the debate. I spent two days working on that one question, writing it, rewriting it, striking out unnecessary words, and that question was directly related to issues in the campaign. It was not a flippant, spur-of-the-moment or spontaneous question. The question went to the heart of capital punishment. The question went to the heart of what kind of person was Dukakis. Vice President Bush had called him the iceman twice during that campaign.

You remember that the famous Willie Horton ad. The charge was that Dukakis was soft on crime.

I felt that I had to ask a question that could somehow pierce through the armor that all politicians, especially presidential candidates, put forth to get to this man to see what he was made of. And I fretted that if he really hit that question out of the park, I would be accused of having asked a softball question.

KING: In retrospect, all he had to say was, I might have wanted to kill the person, my angle would have been intense. I just don't think the state should do a killing. SHAW: Well, Larry, I ask you, since when did a question harm a politician? It wasn't the question. It was the answer. And when he walked off the stage, John Sasso, his campaign manager, was in the wings. I won't use the word on the air, but he said, "John, I up."

KING: Did you know the answer was poor?

SHAW: First of all, he didn't think. I asked the governor if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer? He didn't skip a beat. No, Bernard -- he didn't think about the question.

Another of his advisers, Susan Estrich, she was in the green room at Pauley Pavilion at UCLA's campus, and she almost screamed because she realized the severity of his answer.

KING: Was any of their camp angry at you?

SHAW: Yes. A lot of Democrats. I got hate mail, people saying, how could you, a Democrat. Well, first of all, nobody knows my politics. Did she assume because my skin is black I'm a Democrat? How could you, a Democrat, cause your party leader to lose the White House? Et cetera, et cetera.

And a lot of Republicans were very happy. I remember I was very insulted and incensed. Here in Washington, I had Linda and the kids. We were at dinner at the Grand Hyatt Hotel here, and a group of Massachusetts Republicans were two tables away. This guy yelled out, way to go with that debate question, and he had the nerve to send over a bottle of chilled champagne. And I asked the waitress, "Do you drink champagne?" She said yes. I said, "Share this with your colleagues." I was just insulted.

KING: We'll be back with more of Bernard Shaw and then in our final moments, Judy and Wolf and Frank will join us. Don't go away.


PETER JENNINGS, ABC NEWS: Hey, Bernie, did you ever tell people at CNN that I helped to train you? I mean, at ABC, before you were at CNN, before you became an enormous star. Remember when we were in Iran together for the Iranian revolution?

Actually, you didn't much training by that time, but we have watched you for all of these years, and appreciated you from the time we met. Good luck.



BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, hi, Bernie, it's Bob Schieffer here, and I just want to say we all wish you well. It's been fun knowing you all of these years. We remember you from back in the days when you were a CBS correspondent, but that was a long, long time ago.

Whatever the case, have a great retirement, and we wish you the very best.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's Mr. Mandela. Mr. Nelson Mandela, a free man, taking his first steps into a new South Africa.


KING: How about moments of -- of greatness? Mandela's release. What was that like?

SHAW: It is very difficult to describe the feeling you get from seeing people being carried to the polling stations in wheelbarrows. And I recall that shot -- you remember that aerial shot of the long queue of South Africans, black South Africans who had never voted before in their life...

KING: Oh, wow.

SHAW: ... voting? And also, the other counterbalance to that story was the fact that the white minority came to terms with the reality of politics in that great country, and they did something about it. F.W. De Klerk and what Nelson Mandela did was truly historic.

And then interviewing then candidate Mandela on worldwide television live, I was doing all right until I asked him about Winnie Mandela and their relationship. And in retrospect, I shouldn't have done that, but that was part of our coverage.

KING: Election night 2000. Will that always cringe at you or do you...

SHAW: Yes. Yes, as it should.

KING: What went wrong?

SHAW: Horrific screw-ups by us, and I take no solace in the fact that our competitors made the same mistake. That's not good enough. CNN made the mistake, and I regret that most.

We were using information from a voter news service. The data were faulty, and it showed in our reporting.

But it will never again happen at CNN. The ironclad reforms that we've instituted and even having our own polling unit as back-up will assure that never again will the network of record commit that mistake.

KING: But in retrospect, all you can do is all you can do. It was a service you'd used many times before, wasn't it?

SHAW: Yes, yes. But still, that's no excuse. We made a mistake. And that's uppermost.

KING: Bernie, what are you going to miss the most?

SHAW: By the way, the reason why I'm passionate about that is that the only thing we journalists have at CNN is our credibility. If our viewers and listeners stop believing what we report to be true, we might as well take down our shingle. That's why I'm passionate about that.

What will I miss the most? I will miss you. I'll miss the other men and women at CNN, and I'll miss answering the bell every day.

KING: Do you have a most rewarding experience? Was there ever a night where you could say, look at that?

SHAW: No, because -- well, I could say that, but I'm supercritical of myself, intentionally so. I think that's the way I should be, given the line of work that I'm in. But I'm rarely satisfied with anything I've done. Rarely. Because everything I've done certainly could be improved upon. The problem is, in live journalism, you don't get a chance to go back. You don't get a chance to replay or rewrite.

KING: I know how you feel about the color line, how you've not been involved with it, but you must agree that many, many young black people, male and female in America, have been inspired to get into journalism because of you.

SHAW: Yes. And I -- I've met some around this great country of ours. But I am involved in the color line. Our country has a fixation with race. Would that we get over it. The greatest strength this country has is its diversity -- diversity. Americans ought never to be afraid of diversity. That's the whole strength of this country.

KING: But here we are now of all the majors, we have no black anchor.

SHAW: Well, then we'll have to look at CNN and other networks and say why. But there's -- I think there's an understandable explanation for this. I alluded to it earlier. Women and men in these highly prized and competitive positions don't give them up. I'm committing anchor heresy. And just because you have talent and skill, and you get breaks and what have you, does not mean that eventually if you stay in line long enough you'll get to the top. It just doesn't happen that way. It never has and it never will.

And I ask you, what do you want me to do? Wave a flag of color by staying in this job until rigor mortis sets in? I'm not going to do it. I only have one life.

KING: And you're living it well. When we come back in our remaining moments, Bernie Shaw will be joined by his colleagues, Judy Woodruff, Wolf Blitzer and Frank Sesno. That's next. Don't go away.


MORLEY SCHAEFFER, CBS "60 MINUTES": Bernie, you are much too young to retire. On the other hand, life really begins now.



HUGH DOWNS, ABC "20/20": Well, Bernie, I ought to tell you that your leaving is going to leave a very large hole in broadcasting, but I really expect a contribution from you to the world of letters, and I do look forward to reading your book. Best wishes from a fan, me.




SHAW: By my last day, February 28th, early next year, I expect to be hoarse from thank yous and limp from hugging good-byes. But that's to come later. For now, thank you -- Judy.



SHAW: Thank you.


KING: We have spent the hour with Bernard Shaw, now let's meet three of the people who work with him every day. Judy Woodruff, the CNN anchor and the co-host of "INSIDE POLITICS"; Wolf Blitzer, the host of "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" and on Sundays CNN's "LATE EDITION"; and Frank Sesno -- you see him frequently -- he's also the Washington bureau chief.

All right, Judy, why does Bernie -- I know Bernie's going to be a little embarrassed by this, but he'll have to put up with it.


What has he meant to you?

WOODRUFF: Well, it's -- you know, I still don't believe that Bernie has gone, Larry. I mean, working with him side by side for 7 1/2 years, it's been -- it's like losing my left arm and my right arm. He's not only been a professional partner; he's been an extraordinary friend, and not just a friend to people you see on the air like you and like me and so many others at CNN, but to all the people who work at this remarkable news organization. And that is what he is going to be remembered for around here as much as anything.

KING: Wolf, what's your instant read on Bernie?

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN'S "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS": Well, you know, I've followed CNN from the days -- the early days in 1980. I was a print reporter in the '80s, and I can honestly say that one of the major reasons that I made the move to CNN is because of the credibility that CNN had developed, in large part because of people like Bernie Shaw.

Bernie was a reporter's reporter, an inspiration for me, obviously, as I got to know him over these past 10 or 11 years, someone I deeply, deeply admire as a professional, as a solid reporter, a journalist. A whole generation of us just deeply admired him as a working reporter. And hopefully, he's going to be coming back from time to time and helping us learn a little bit more.

KING: Frank, are you Bernie's boss?


FRANK SESNO, CNN WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: I don't think there is such a thing. Maybe his wife is his boss, but nobody is Bernie's boss. But I've been working with this guy for almost 17 years, you know, before we had TelePrompTers, before we had computers, and if truth be told, before we had very many viewers. And so we've been through the -- literally, through the wars together.

I remember when his son was still in school. I'd show up in one of our old bureaus -- we've had two other old bureaus here in Washington -- and there was his boy sitting at his side while Bernie was getting ready for the newscast doing his homework. He's a family man. He's a friend. And you know, he's not going very far because we're going to refuse to forget him.

KING: Judy, when you joined the network and you learned you'd be paired with Bernie, was that something that inspired you to come on?

WOODRUFF: It made all the difference in the world. I mean, I was having conversations with people here, but among those conversations were ones that I had with Bernie, private conversations about CNN and about working with him. And that was an integral part of the decision to come here.

I mean, I had watched Bernie over the years when he was at ABC, before that at CBS, and of course, at CNN. So I knew then what an outstanding journalist he was. And frankly, it was part of the promise of being able to work with him that made CNN as attractive as it was to me.

KING: Wolf, do you fear that that kind of journalism, the kind Bernie represents -- and there aren't many in that league -- is fading, that the serious tell-it-as-it-is reporter is fading for how the graphics look and what can we find the thing behind why that woman looks that way?

BLITZER: To a certain degree the graphics and all the fancy stuff, that's very important nowadays as well. But the basics of journalism, what Bernie Shaw represents, is still critically important.

Our viewers depend on us for information, and we're only as good as our credibility is. And we don't have the credibility if we're just glitzy and showman-like, or you know, snobby -- we're not going to have that credibility. What Bernie Shaw did is he gave us all credibility.

People trust our reporting, and for good reason, because we work hard at trying to get it right.

KING: Frank, the anchor is more than just what the public sees, right? He is -- he or she is the rock, are they not?

SESNO: They really are. I mean, they hold it together. They weave things from one element of a story to the next. And especially here at CNN -- I mean, this is a very unusual place. Certainly, when CNN went on the air in 1980, there was no other entity where you were really tracking history in the making. It was news in real-time.

I mean, we take it for granted now because we've got the Internet and there are other cable news organizations, but when we first started, you really have to recognize the unusual nature of what it was. And Bernie helped to pioneer that. And the sort of calm demeanor, the way Bernie handled, for example, the assassination attempt, I mean, those were in our infant days here. But it was holding the temperature down so that you, Bernie Shaw, and the other reporters in the field, the producers and the viewers would not panic and would keep their cool and some perspective.

BLITZER: Not only has Bernie Shaw, Larry, been a role model to all of us, he's also, of course, been a role model to African- Americans, to minorities in general. I know Bernie is insistent on this, that he's a reporter, that's first and foremost.

The fact that he is now retiring is going to be such a huge loss for all of us who saw him as a role model, not because he was an African-American journalist, but because he was a great journalist. And by being a great journalist, he, of course, gave inspiration to a lot of people, especially a lot of minorities, but to a lot of other people who aren't minorities.

KING: Bernie, we're out of time. It would be presumptuous of me to speak on behalf of your colleagues here tonight and everyone at the network -- we dearly miss you.

SHAW: Thank you, Larry. I'm missing you already. And you can tell when I get uptight emotionally, whenever I start sweating -- and I've been doing it for the last seven, eight minutes -- or if I make a mistake or something like that, I uncontrollably sweat. And my forehead is glistening for a reason.

KING: We will not see his likes again. Thank you all very much.

WOODRUFF: That is true.

KING: This is another edition of LARRY KING LIVE. A tribute to Bernie Shaw. Good night.



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