Washington Press Club Foundation
Charlayne Hunter-Gault:
Interview #2 (pp. 13-31)
December 3, 1993 in New York, New York
Mary Marshall Clark, Interviewer

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[Begin Tape 1, Side A]

Clark: Okay. Thank you again for meeting with me and doing this project.

I want to ask you more questions about your time at the New Yorker. You got into that a little bit last time. You talked about, I think, your experiences with Mr. Shawn in editing. One of the stories was the "Trip to Leverton" that we talked about and which I've had a chance to read. It's very beautiful.

You described him and we know that much from your book and from your last interview. But I want to know a little bit more about the New Yorker, how it was to be there, who else you worked with closely when you were writing a story, how the story came about. Just give us a little bit about how the inside works.

Hunter-Gault: Well, it was a very simple place, really. And I guess all the great ideas and great questions and great institutions, perhaps, work on some very simple principles. The New Yorker was a very—some people said it was so unpretentious, it was pretentious. But it was not at all what you would have expected.

Clark: In what sense?

Hunter-Gault: Physically, it was very homey and unglamorous. The offices were fairly plain. You know, there just wasn't anything that could be remotely described as glamorous. Mr. Shawn used to ride—there was one elevator where you had an operator. And Mr. Shawn who was a claustrophobe—and I came to appreciate that because I became one a bit later on. But he used to ride that one elevator all the time. But it was unadorned.

And I think that in terms of how the process worked, I mean, for the most part the chain of command was quite simple. I mean, Shawn was the principal editor for me on all of my work. I sat there very alert to the environment and how things worked and the magazine. I used to study it carefully and I think, you know—at that time there would be things that would be in vogue. And one was reminiscences. And so that was the—you know, I said, "Well, I could do that."

I mean, I felt as confident about the reminiscences of a Southern black childhood as Mary McCarthy might have felt about her New England childhood, or wherever it was. She was, in fact, writing at that time, as well as some of the great names of literature that I think might be lost now to people, because you don't see writers like Joseph Mitchell. Lillian Ross was writing again but in those days, you know, she was the enfant terrible of the profile, you know. And so just incredibly wonderful. We wouldn't have used the term "role models." This is a fairly new term. But examples of people whom you'd like to emulate in your work.

And so Shawn was the principal person that I dealt with as an editor. Now the fiction writers might have had different editors. There were other editors. There were fiction editors, there were fact editors. And so some of the other writers probably had more interaction with some of the other editors. I think that, for example, Calvin Trillin's work was edited. I think Shawn did most of it, as I recall, of the major pieces.

But one of my jobs each week was to type the fact and fiction lists. And I think, if I remember correctly, there would be editors whose initials would be beside the different pieces so that different editors did work on the pieces. Shawn didn't work on every single thing that went into the magazine. But his hand was very much there on everything that went into the magazine, whether it was through consultation with the primary editor or whether he did it himself.

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But it was a small place. I mean, not that many people worked there. So you didn't have to go through some labyrinthine process of not knowing where your work was.

Then, of course, there were the checkers. That was the famed New Yorker checking department which really could spoil you for working anywhere else because while you were never encouraged to play fast and loose or carelessly with the facts, it was that comfort that—sometimes it was an annoyance, you know, because they would come and just question you relentlessly. But it was in your behalf and in behalf of the reputation of the magazine that they did it. And there was rarely much cause for consternation in the finished product.

And then on "Talk [of the Town]," I think—I believe Shawn was the editor of "Talk" because after I wrote one "Notes and Comment" and sold one "Notes and Comment" and two short stories, I got promoted to the "Talk" staff. And as far as I can recall, all of those pieces were edited by Mr. Shawn.

Clark: I think I read somewhere that when you first went there, your technical job title was—

Hunter-Gault: Editorial assistant.

Clark: Did that function sort of as the same thing as a secretary or a researcher?

Hunter-Gault: No, it was more like a secretary, where you typed and you stuffed envelopes with rejection slips and you addressed them. As I said, typed, there were no computers then. There were no Xerox machines, so when you made multiple copies, it was through carbon packs. Not even carbon packs—you might have to physically place the carbon and you'd make ten copies of a long fact list and it would be maybe fifty pieces on there. And one would move off because it was published that week. And then, there was no way that you could delete it or move it. You had to retype that list of forty-nine, fifty pieces all over again, just to make room for one new one and to take off one old one. So it was a very tedious proposition.

Clark: Did you have time at work to work on your stories?

Hunter-Gault: Everybody did. That was the environment. Nobody who was there as an editorial assistant—or at least very few of the young people just out of college—had any idea, had as a goal to be an editorial assistant or even a special assistant. I mean, most of the people who were there doing what I was doing were either on their lunch hour working on little poems or big poems and, you know, they would get Dorothy Gilbert. She wrote lovely poetry. And she was Leo Hofeller's secretary. He was actually the personnel editor and who actually hired me. It was his job.

And his main secretary was Dorothy Gilbert. I remember she was always working. And you know, it turned out she wrote really nice poetry. I remember when Kennedy was killed, she wrote this lovely poem about flying over Iceland. And I remember one line. It was something about the smell of coffee wakes me, and it was on hearing the news of the assassination. It was really good.

Clark: Was it published in the New Yorker?

Hunter-Gault: Yes. Yes. I'll think of her name eventually. But she was the main secretary in there and sort of fussy, you know, a young woman with an old demeanor. You know, the people there were wonderful to me. People look for horror stories because of the times in America and because of the racial situation. But, you know, the New Yorker reached out for me and they did it in an unself-conscious way.

Clark: What do you mean by that?

Hunter-Gault: Well, they didn't welcome me as the first black—you know, there were some other black people working there. There was a woman who was a checker and then there was another woman who worked on the

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staff—I can't remember exactly what she did. I remember she wrote to the New York Times book review to complain about them saying that I was the first black staff person at the New Yorker, although I think I was the first black "Talk of the Town" reporter but there were one or two others who worked there.

But they didn't make like a big deal out of it. Everybody was treated with a certain special care and feeding because of the nature of the place. But it wasn't like they made a big deal—and that was the thing that I was looking for because I wanted to prove myself in the field that I had chosen as opposed to as an activist in the political arena of civil rights. So it was just perfect. It was consistent with my view of myself. They treated me as a person.

And it was on the strength of my writing as opposed to who I was because they wouldn't have promoted me to "Talk of the Town" just because I was black. I mean, it was a small staff—although it was big, it was so big that not everybody could get in the magazine every week. The way somebody explained it to me once—I think it was Jerry Jonas who was a poet and a writer of longer pieces from time to time. And he said that it wasn't a matter of writing an "A" paper, i.e. paper/piece, but it was only the A plus pieces that got in.

Clark: That's lovely.

Hunter-Gault: So it wasn't an act of generosity that promoted me. It was like anybody else—I had proved myself. So there I was, with Tony Hiss—well, everybody. Bud Trillin was writing for "Talk", Jerry Jonas was writing for "Talk", Renata Adler. Some of them were also doing longer pieces.

And then I think I distinguished myself by writing initially about—well, it was a double bonus in a sense because, number one, I felt that I should write about what I knew or what I was intimately interested in. But what I knew and what I was intimately interested in was also something that wasn't being covered anywhere, for the most part. And that was the black community the way I saw it. And I saw Harlem as a very exciting, dynamic, diverse place.

Now, not everything I wrote for the New Yorker was about race or black people. I remember writing a silly, lovely little piece about a circus coming to town and they lost the elephants or I lost the circus or something. But it was a delightful piece. And I did that every now and then just to keep a balance for myself. I think I always had a vision of what I wanted to do. Even though I might not have been able to recite it in detail. I always saw myself as a person who was a woman and who was black. And so those are three different elements of my being. And as a result, in my professional development, although I didn't have a specific mentor, I think that I saw early on the necessity for certain things, not the least of which was balance.

And it wasn't that I felt that I would be trapped, although I think that happened to a lot of black reporters in the sixties. I didn't want ever to be stereotyped or typecast. And I was proud of the work that I did to illuminate the black community in a different way than it was—or to illuminate it, period.

Clark: I was going to say.

Hunter-Gault: Yes. Because it was the era of—you know, when black people got covered, it was either in their pathology or in some sort of, you know, the celebrities and the stars and the dancers and the singers. They could always get covered because that's what black people did, they sang and danced and entertained. So that was never undercovered. But that kind of coverage, while valid and legitimate, it was the extremes. It was either that or it was pathology. And I never saw my life and I never saw the lives of other black people in those terms.

While my major concentration was on black issues, I would do other things, partly to remind other people not to just typecast me. I wasn't concerned about that too much because there was such a crying need

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for the kind of thing that I was doing. It almost went in the paper as soon as it came out of my typewriter. I didn't find resistance to it. Not at the New Yorker, ever.

And here again, as I said, it wasn't always pathology. In fact, most of the time, it wasn't. It was wonderful stuff, you know, like Louis Michaux's bookstore which was the gathering spot for intellectuals. He had one of the largest collections of books by and about black people. And all the Harlem intellectuals—intellectuals from all over the world would come, the Africans, West Indians, African Americans, Nationalists, white people interested in black thought would come there. Michaux himself was quite a character.

I did a piece called "The Corner," which just simply described the activities that went on at 125th Street and Seventh Avenue. It's a famous corner. I mean, black nationalists for generations, including Malcolm X and Eddie "Porkchop" Davis. I don't know that Adam Clayton Powell ever spoke from that corner but I know that he was involved in a very fundamental way in the "Buy Black" campaigns of the, I guess, fifties, maybe.

And it was history. I've always been—it's interesting because I never would have thought of myself as a student of history because I hated history the way it was taught when I was growing up. I just found it really — but it's always been the kind of thing that I've been interested in as a reporter, trying to put historical context to things because nothing ever came from nowhere. I mean, everything came from something and everything that is today is from some kind of evolution. I mean, nothing just springs fully-armed from the head of Zeus except in mythology, which I also happen to love.

But that helped me again to appreciate that it is only a myth that you have certain kinds of phenomena. But everything else has a history. And I loved those pieces and Shawn loved them and they were wonderful in the magazine. I have at home two or three illustrations that Soglow did of some of my pieces. And when I asked him for the illustrations, he gave them to me. One was of the area called Mount Morris Park when it was declared a historic district. And I went and I wrote the history of that area when the old Sachems of Tammany Hall used to—then all the rich people lived in those beautiful houses, some of which have been preserved by the people who live there.

But to go back to that history and say that this is the history of that. His illustration of that was these old Sachems sitting on the bench, the park bench in Mount Morris Park talking politics. Another one he illustrated was when I did a story about the black students at Columbia University. Hilton Clark, the son of the psychologist, Dr. Kenneth Clark, was one of the black student activists and he went on to become a political activist in Harlem. But he was involved in a commemoration to Langston Hughes and a thing to talk about the evolution of the black presence on Columbia's campus.

That was the kind of stuff I did. And in a way, it was revolutionary. I mean, I didn't think of it as such. I just did what my nose and instincts and the situation seemed to warrant. But it wasn't the kind of thing that was featured in mainstream media because this was about black people being who they were.

Clark: Being makers of history.

Hunter-Gault: Yes. So that I have always been very—I've been fortunate even when I have had to oppose positions of the editors of mainstream places where I worked. I've always been able to achieve a result.

Clark: Let me ask you why you think you've been able to do that.

Hunter-Gault: Well, as I just said, I didn't have a problem at the New Yorker. I wasn't challenged and they appreciated—at the New York Times, my very first interview with the editor who subsequently hired me was one in which he asked me if I felt I would always be able to tell the truth if I was sent to cover the black community, being a part of the black community. Well, you know, those were the old days.

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Clark: Could you tell the name of the editor?

Hunter-Gault: I don't think I will. I answered him in the same way I took the question. I said, "I don't know." I mean, what did he mean? I knew what he meant. But I said, "I don't know," I said, "because what is truth?" I went philosophical on him: What is truth? But it was a profound question. I think—I don't know, I've had so many—how shall I describe it? Maybe it was my background and training.

It isn't to say I haven't had some things that weren't successful. But on so many of them, on the big things, on the big issues—I think maybe that's a function of the civil rights training and my own background that you don't get bogged down in the details, you keep your eye on the prize. And I was never one to get bogged down in the details. I mean, there were a lot of details everywhere I've been that I think maybe could have destroyed a weaker person. Again I think it comes out of that whole movement philosophy, to keep your eye on the prize. I just looked at the big issues and was able, I think in part with a sense of humor and with a sense of myself, to deflect a lot of the ridiculous things.

So that like this question. I mean, in a way it was an important question to engage. But I think I engaged it the proper way. I didn't jump in his chest and say, "What the hell do you mean, could I tell the truth? Would you ask a white reporter that?" Well, the truth of the matter is he probably wouldn't although they did ask women. That was asking about could women cover the women's movement and be objective.

Clark: They're still asking it.

Hunter-Gault: Yes. Well, what women's movement? But anyway.

Clark: Before we get totally beyond the New Yorker

Hunter-Gault: Let me just finish that thought, though, because, you see, the philosophical issue there was his perception of truth. And what I was trying to say in saying, "Well, I don't know," is to try to begin to have him understand about perceptions because up to that point, with the exceptions of the reporters—there were black reporters at the Times before I got there and they'd been, you know, carrying on. It wasn't like I came there and suddenly revolutionized the place. Tom Johnson was the dean of black reporters and Gerald Frazier was there and Nancy Hicks, and Earl Caldwell.

But it was all kind of new territory, unchartered territory, the notion that any other perception but the perception of the white male editor was relevant. Even when black reporters were hired, it was a practical necessity for the most part because of the inability of white reporters to—although I think that was a myth, too, because a good white reporter—a good reporter whether white or black could get the story. Because what is a good reporter, somebody's who's sensitive to the environment and the culture and who doesn't go in with preconceived notions.

But, anyway, that was the point, to begin to challenge the notion of the single perspective. So what is truth? Is what I say, even if I have been "objective," the truth? So it was deep. It wasn't some, you know, just—I didn't take it as a bullshit exchange.

Clark: Building exactly on that—I'm glad you persisted and finished that story. Before we leave the New Yorker, because you were so close in time to having been covered as the story, you know, The Charlayne Hunter-Gault—Calvin Trillin when he wrote about you and Hamp [Hamilton Holmes]* in the three-part series in the New Yorker, talked about the double-vision that he thought that you had gained by both being covered and

* Hamilton Earl "Hamp" Holmes and Charlayne Hunter were the first black students to integrate the University of Georgia.

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watching yourself be covered. And precisely what you did in the interview with the editor of the New York Times was to enter his perceptual modality and be able to see that. Do you think that the experience that you had of being covered at the University of Georgia led to that kind of ability?

Hunter-Gault: I think I had it.

Clark: You had it?

Hunter-Gault: You know, black people used to say—they had a superstitious thing—they used to say, there were people in the community that they say were born with veils over their faces because they could see ghosts. And I never thought I could see ghosts—and I was scared to death of ghosts. I mean, fortunately, as a child, I grew up when people used to tell wonderful stories that would scare you to death more than any Stephen King thing on television or in the movies.

But in a way, I may have had a veil over my face because I think I was always—I think from the time I was a little kid I had two visions: I could see myself, even as I was being myself I could step back and see myself. Now, where does that come from, I don't know. I have no idea.

But I think that each subsequent thing, experience in my life just clarified that even more. And I think that now that I'm at the age that I am, for example, I don't even question it. I always been confident although I might have been less secure. And one never gets totally rid of insecurity. I mean, you always say, well, how come he did that? How come he frowned when I asked that question? But you know, the part of you at fifty-two that's different from the part of you at thirty-two or twenty-two is: Well, he frowned. So what? Maybe it wasn't the best question but you don't always ask the best questions. You try. But then you don't go into paroxysms, you know, because you didn't.

Clark: It doesn't stop you.

Hunter-Gault: No. So why was that? I mean, that's a good question to pursue. And maybe that's what I'll do in my book so I'll have something that you don't have. [Laughter]

Clark: Remember, you can close these pages.

Hunter-Gault: Right. No, I mean, I really don't know. But I think that being in the middle of it and being outside of it, I don't think I started looking at the world that way at that point.

Clark: No, I didn't imagine that you had.

Hunter-Gault: Yes. I think I must have. I mean, maybe part of it is a function of being an only child. Maybe part of it is being a function of the kind of background I had, you know. I mean, I haven't ever looked into certain of the psychological aspects of the kind of background I had. But I might do that when I write my own book.

Clark: Very interesting. Going back once more to the period of the New Yorker, just to get a sense of what was happening in the world and to you as you made the transition from the South to the North, entering the sophisticated world of the New Yorker, what was it like? Were there any shocks for you?

Hunter-Gault: No. I didn't let myself think about it. I mean, if there were. I guess in a way I'm my father's child. My father took the world on a bluff. I mean, he didn't, you know—what is that phrase about taking quarter? My father, maybe he wasn't always comfortable in every situation but you would never know it. And also, I had been out of the South a lot, visiting him, on posts, army bases, which were always

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integrated even though it was maybe a fragile thing. But I was not some little country bumpkin coming up here, coming up North. I mean, I'd been in Harlem when I was five.

My uncle [Theodore Hunter], this pullman porter, my father's brother—I write about him in the book—was very sophisticated. You know, the black people in my life all were so—even my uncle who was a rake—sort of took the world as if it was theirs. There weren't any victims in my family or at least they didn't have the victim mentality. They were surely victims in a sense because they were brought up in a society that didn't honor them as full human beings. But it didn't get to their heads, as far as I could tell.

And in a certain way, it's kind of like—I hesitate to use the middle-class thing because I don't think it really means anything in socio-economic terms. But I had a very kind of middle-class upbringing. And in that regard, it's not that different from whites, psychologically.

Clark: I think in some ways maybe the migration from the South to the North was more comfortable for black people in the sense that there was a—you know, into Harlem at least there was a tradition of migration.

Hunter-Gault: Maybe, I don't know. I found Harlem people real strange.

Clark: Really? In what way?

Hunter-Gault: Well, not my relatives. But once I began to interact on an intellectual level, I found them much more cynical than Southerners and much more bitter, embittered, which was interesting because, you know, the North was supposed to be the open society. But it was horrible—I started to use a word you probably couldn't put in the oral history.

I found, especially men in Harlem, just really cynical and full of bitterness and conspiracy theories, very different from the black people that I knew in the South, even those who were not diffident and, you know, the leaders. It was fascinating. I mean, I ran into people whose minds worked in ways that just used to floor me, the kinds of conspiracy things that they would come up with. I don't know if that was a level of sophistication that didn't exist in the South or just the result of the different experiences.

Clark: Would you play that out—or is it possible, is it false to play that out politically, I mean, in the sense of like the struggle of black nationalism?

Hunter-Gault: Black nationalism probably had a lot to do with it. It was just the unique—just the very different vision. I'll have to really sit down and think about how different it was because I don't see one being— I mean, I think often it was the lack of tangible accomplishment. I mean, in the South at least there were black businesses and black development. I'm talking sort of off the top of my head but there must be things that explain it. It's still true today.

Clark: I think that the alienation is certainly much greater and a lot of people have written—African Americans have written about the myth of the North and encountering that.

Hunter-Gault: It was very palpable, very palpable. Even young guys that I found sexy and wonderful—[Laughter]—you know, at a certain level we could get it on. But at a certain other level, I couldn't get to their heads. I found it fascinating, especially guys who were followers of Malcolm X who actually, as it turns out, probably were the victims of conspiracies. But this was all just really beyond my comprehension. But I was fascinated about it. I was fascinated by it.

I think that was one of the things that kind of propelled me forward, that I just found all of this very exciting, and I wasn't intimidated by it or I didn't come in with any predispositions about it. And it was natural. I mean, although I had only been in Harlem a couple of times when I was a little kid visiting with my

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grandmother, it was natural to be there. I didn't see it as some kind of exotic place like Ali Baba and the forty thieves, you know.

Clark: Why did you leave the New Yorker?

Hunter-Gault: The New Yorker was, if you can believe this, almost too wonderful. I was having a good experience, I was learning, and yet there were so many "A" papers, so many "A" people, even "A plus" people, that there wasn't any great demand for you to produce. And I thought that ultimately that would work to my detriment. I felt that as a young person in the formative stages of my life, as a professional I wanted to have the experience of some crusty, asshole editor, you know, breathing down my neck, just to see what I was made of. I was worried about whether or not I would develop the discipline on my own, you know, which is what would have happened at the New Yorker.

I saw some of the younger reporters who had come there like myself, probably with better educations and certainly backgrounds to match, dissipate. Some of them picked themselves up but it was after a long time. And they get to be neurotic, nervous wrecks. I didn't want to be like that.

And also, I think at that time I still had doubts about the quality of the education I had from Georgia. Trillin used to needle me at Georgia because he didn't think much of Georgia, the school system, you know, being a Yale man and everything. And he's probably right. I mean, a lot of my English courses—anytime you have a final exam that's multiple choice in English, you need to get worried about what's going on here. I had some good instructors and professors and none of them ever allowed their personal attitudes, as far as I could tell, to interfere with their instruction to me.

True it was a bit weak but also given the circumstances for me—I remember the first semester I was there, I had a history class. And the girls would be beating on my floors all night, you know—it didn't go on all semester but in the early part. And for any number of reasons, I wasn't getting adequate sleep and there was a lot of tension and pressure. By the time I got to my history class which was like my third class of the morning or second class of the morning, I couldn't stay awake. I was forever waking up finding that my pen had slid across the page as I tried to take notes. I had a wonderful history teacher, German. And today, the way I love history, you know, it would just be a whole different ball game. But it was just tough.

So I felt that I needed to supplement my education as well. So what I did was I found a fellowship. I started looking around and I found a fellowship that combined—that I thought was perfect. It was Russell Sage. And it was a program for young journalists already in their careers, to study in the social sciences and learn how to use social scientific techniques in their reporting. And part of it was to work on the magazine transaction. And when I got the fellowship I was able to take some of these classes in social science and also to work in a practical way on the magazine.

It's interesting because I went into it with just great eagerness and hunger. And after a while it was all so theoretical.

Clark: What do you mean?

Hunter-Gault: You know, social stratification of textbooks, professors talking about things in textbook cases when it was happening in the streets. Then after Martin Luther King was killed,* I really became impatient with all of this ivory tower intellectualism about what was wrong in the streets. So the academy was a stimulating environment on the one hand but I also had a three-year-old, so I couldn't just hang out, you know, like you do in academia.

* April 4, 1968

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[End Tape 1, Side A; Begin Tape 1, Side B]

Hunter-Gault: So, after King was killed, I was invited to help organize a conference with the Justice Department and some other agencies on race and the news media and got involved in that. The conference went very well and as a result, I was selected to go to a smaller seminar at Aspen with editors and news directors and so on. And I had a lot to say because at this point I was really fed up—fed up with the detachment of academia, fed up with the detachment of mainstream media, the distance from the real stories. So I was always sounding off.

It's interesting because when I was writing my book I found my father was the same way. People would say he would go to a meeting and he would say he didn't plan to say anything at the meeting and before the meeting was over, he would have taken it over, you know, and be running it. So I guess it runs in the blood.

But, at a lunch break, the news director from the WRC-TV program called. He said he wanted to talk to me and he asked me then, he said he'd listened with interest to the things I had to say and wondered if I'd be interested in putting my money where my mouth was. He said, "Of course, you do have kind of a lazy way of talking but," he said, "we could fix that." [Laughter] Television people.

But he was kind of an unusual guy in that he was visionary.

Clark: What was his name?

Hunter-Gault: Irv Margolis, Irwin Margolis, we called him Irv. And people either loved him or hated him because he was odd. But as I said, he was visionary. And he was in the process of creating probably the first in-depth investigative team on a nightly news program, local news program, in the country. It was called "News Four Probe," in 1968. And he had already hired Jean Smith and Vin Holman who was at that time with the Justice Department in the community relations. And he was looking for a third person. And the concept was that into the regular mix of nightly news things, briefs, sound bites and so forth—minute pieces, thirty-second pieces—they would develop these units, pieces, to drop in. They could be three, four, five minutes which was, you know, like an hour-long documentary in a regular twenty-eight-minute newscast. It was revolutionary.

Clark: What were some of the pieces you did?

Hunter-Gault: Well, I left the fellowship in the middle of it, much to their consternation, but I just couldn't—it was happening in the streets in a fundamental way. And so I got there and some of the pieces I did involved—well, Washington, D.C. was about to experience its first—I don't remember whether it was a referendum or what but it was the first time the residents of the District were going to be able to vote on any local issue. It was school board elections. And District residents had never been allowed to vote on anything.

So I developed a series of pieces on what issue voters should be focusing on as they looked to evaluate people for the school board. And I went out into the nearby counties, looking at their school systems and things that were happening out there that the District didn't have. What else did I do? I was always doing something. And the unit was winning big awards. And then I met a guy that I was interested in. And he moved to New York and I was thinking about making the change. And also the news director was leaving to go to New York and he wanted me to come and do the same thing in New York. But the news director in New York wasn't interested in that kind of journalism.

Clark: This is an NBC affiliate, right?

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Hunter-Gault: This was the local NBC, WNBC. And to try to persuade me to come, he said, "Look, this guy doesn't have a long life at NBC. And you just come and hang out so we can get you over there with [Chet] Huntley and [David] Brinkley for a while and you know, you can write for them. And as soon as we get rid of him, we'll bring you on to the local to do what you do."

And if I had done that, I guess my life probably would have changed in a major way because I probably would have anchored a local and I probably would still be there. But I didn't want to write for "Huntley-Brinkley," I wanted to write for myself. So that didn't appeal to me at all. And while I was here interviewing, I went to see some friends of mine at the [New York] Times that I knew from Reservation City. And Gerald Frazier, who took the portrait of me for my book jacket, he said, "C'mon, let me introduce you to Arthur. You know, you really should be working here." And he went and introduced me to Arthur Gelb. And that was the beginning of that.

So I took a pay cut—I agonized about it because I had just started TV, I saw what its potential could be. As I said, I needed the money because I had this little girl.

Clark: Were you single by that time? Divorced?

Hunter-Gault: More or less, yes. You know, living in New York was more expensive than living in D.C. I wanted to be with Irv because he was like a rabbi, you know. Everybody needs a rabbi or an angel. That's one of the hardest parts about some of my experiences subsequently. I haven't had—or at least I haven't felt that I had that rabbi or that angel and just had to do it on my own. Or at least that's how I felt.

So it was hard. I mean, I really did agonize. And in the end I took the pay cut and I guess I made the right decision because I had some really good years at the Times and I think I learned a lot more, just about journalism and writing, than I would have at NBC. I mean, I never would have probably—I don't say never but I think—television is such a consuming medium. I think it would have been hard for me to do some of the things that I did, and even do now because I still write even though this is consuming. But I got at the Times what I was looking for, that discipline, you know, some editor not giving a shit about who you are or what you are—or maybe giving a shit about who you are and giving you shit because you are who you are. But it was the discipline.

Clark: Well, you have an unusual balance between the daily journalism and the magazine and the evening news hour.

Hunter-Gault: But I grew. I had opportunities to expand on the kinds of things that I was doing at the New Yorker because I went right back to Harlem, because here again there was this incredible void.

Clark: Well, let's talk a little bit about that and about how you were hired and how they defined what you would do, as much as you feel you have time to get into it. Just the beginnings to walking in the door.

Hunter-Gault: Well, I think there was an assumption that I would cover the black community, though as I said, there was Tom Johnson and Nancy [Hicks]. Nancy was covering education and science and so she wasn't in that loop, as it were. And Gerald was always kind of a floater.

I always thought that Gerald was one of the most gifted writers but I never felt that the Times utilized him properly. It was just a tragedy. I mean, that's one of the tragedies of this peculiar thing of race, you know, because Gerald has that West Indian background and has a temper and has a certain amount of pride. It just—I don't know, I just always felt that was the Times's loss. I would watch Gerald write a—you know, because he's so bright. And I just loved his writing. He could be prickly, but with good reason.

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So anyway, it was us. There we were. While I did other things like I remember Arthur assigned me once to go over and do something on Balanchine. It was wonderful. But it's interesting that they wouldn't have—they didn't—and I probably would have resisted it. They didn't nurture me for the same kinds of things that they might have a white reporter.

Clark: Why would you have resisted it?

Hunter-Gault: Well, because of the need that I saw to do the kinds of things that I was doing. It was rare that I would get sent to do something, say, on Balanchine. The editors—and I can understand looking at the period and the need. But they never looked at my total development. They never said—because I don't think they had the perspective to say—"Look, you're a talented reporter and you're black and you're a woman and you can make a contribution in all these areas. Now let's, you know, take you in these directions."

At the same time, I was very satisfied with the work that I was doing and I grew a lot. I mean, I felt like—I think a lot of black reporters feel that—and I understand how they do—that being assigned just to cover the black community is a limit to their advancement. And it is in the sense that you don't often move from covering the black community to the political beat or to a foreign assignment. I mean, Tom did, but it was always treated as the aberration, as the unique thing. And they didn't have a whole lot of people following in his footsteps. I guess the next person to do that was Sheila Rule and look how long that gap was. And I thought they both did well.

And yet, you know, the path just wasn't the same. But again I think I probably would have resisted it because the need was so great, I thought, to do the kind of thing that I was doing, because, I mean, I started the Harlem bureau to concentrate more intensely on getting stories out of the black community. And that was the big deal but I had Arthur's support, but Arthur says it was his idea which is fine with me.

Clark: That was the next question I was going to ask you, who took credit for it and how it evolved.

Hunter-Gault: You know, I used to pride myself on not playing office politics and not getting involved in the politics. But I played a fair amount of politics on my own and I saw how things got done and I saw how editors, you know, liked pride of authorship. And it looked to me what was important was getting the damn bureau going. And Arthur was very supportive. I even took him up there with me, 125th Street and Seventh Avenue, right in the middle of everything. He got very excited about it, the paper got excited about it.

Somewhere around here is a full-page ad they took out during Black History Month. You know, people make light of this but this was a big thing for them. They took a cinematographer with me and everywhere I went for I don't know how long. And there must have been a hundred pictures of me in different situations, little pictures that they used a full-page ad about—what did they call it? I forgot. I have it at home—about covering Harlem. I mean, that was something they just didn't do.

Clark: What did the bureau consist of? What kind of staff and money resources?

Hunter-Gault: I was the bureau chief and the bureau.

Clark: You were the bureau.

Hunter-Gault: I was the bureau chief and the bureau as well. They bought me an air conditioner and they painted the office. It was located inside the office of Hoke Stevens who was a wonderful lawyer who subsequently died. Hoke was a good source for me and a good guide through the cultural and political maze of Harlem. So I was always going and having long conversations with him. So this was a good place for me to have my office. And they were happy to have me and it was safe.

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Downstairs there came to be eventually a community news service, so it was great. The stories used to just—it was like fish jumping into your boat. The stories would just come while I would be sitting at lunch. That's the great thing about being in a location, being in the field. The stories were just almost always right there for the picking.

So while a lot of people saw it as exile, somebody even on our staff asked me if I was getting combat pay. It was their perception of what the beat was. My perception was very different.

Clark: Well, Jill Nelson writes about in her book* that in the sixties, the metro desk was seen as the race riot beat.

Hunter-Gault: Well, I didn't—

Clark: By the white establishment.

Hunter-Gault: Well, maybe. But I did something else. I mean, I didn't sit around and bitch about it. I just turned it into something else.

Marty Arnold at the time loved—this is Marty's favorite story, about how the two of us were covering a Black Power meeting in Newark and all the panoply of Black Power activists were there. And things were real tense. And at some point something happened and they started after all the white people. And Marty was going to stand around and be brave. I said to Marty, "You better get out of here." And I went out the window and turned around and grabbed him out of the window behind me. And Marty loves to tell that story about how I saved his life.

Clark: He was going to be the brave white liberal, right.

Hunter-Gault: And they were going to kick his brave white ass.

But those were tough times, you know. So we covered stuff like that, sure. I remember when—I was pregnant with my son when—was it when Malcolm got killed? When did Malcolm get killed? What year was that?

Clark: I think it was sixty—I always get his date wrong.

Hunter-Gault: It was in the sixties.

Clark: Sixty-five, I think. [February 21, 1965]

Hunter-Gault: Something big had happened with the Mosque, the Muslims, some major killings that resulted in riots. I'd have to go back and look up what it was. It was very tense, involving the Black Muslims. And I was very good friends with [Louis] Farrakhan and Minister—there was this one heavy-set Minister something—I used to see him all the time. But I wouldn't say good friends but we talked, we had good relations and they trusted me. I had written a good story on the Mosque and it was the first time they'd ever gotten any publicity other than negative. But they had a really good school.

I guess I was about seven months pregnant. I was huge and I wanted to go up there. And Arthur—I was the bureau chief and Arthur wouldn't let me. And I had a fit. He said, "Your husband would never forgive me if I let you go up there." He was—I mean, I was so confident about the people that I didn't fear.

* Volunteer Slavery: My Authentic Negro Experience

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The chances are I could have been hurt because when the mob is out of control, they may not be after you but you just might get knocked over or something. My husband that night thought Arthur had more sense than I did. So I stayed and worked the phones.

So, you know, there was a certain amount of that when it happened. But it wasn't my only beat. Riots were not my beat. But she's not wrong about that—

Clark: I think she's talking about a wide perception of that.

Hunter-Gault: No, I think it was true. I think that was the frustration of a lot of black reporters, that that was all they expected of them. And when a riot wasn't going on, there was nothing to do. In fact, there was an editor of the Times magazine when we were all there. This is a famous story—we all tell it. It will probably appear in all of our books because we were all standing there—me, Roger Wilkins, Nancy [Hicks] might have been there, Tom Johnson, George Goodman, Gerald [Frazier]—Gerald and I were teaching a class at the College of New Rochelle in journalism and we were waiting, killing time before our class.

And we had all sort of gathered at the—I remember right in the middle of the newsroom there used to be newspapers that would be like this and you could go over and read the week's newspapers. And this editor came down. Deadline was seven. So everybody was gone. It was about 7:30 and different ones were hanging around for different reasons. And he came over and he said, "Oh, hi!" I said, "What brings you to the newsroom?" He said, "Oh, I came down looking for reporters to do stories for the magazine but I see that nobody's here."

Now, before he said that, he said, "What's going on here?" and I said, "Well, it's a meeting but we voted to keep you." And it was funny. He didn't get it. Everybody else laughed. I should have known then. And that's when we said, "What are you doing here?" And he said, "Well, I came looking for writers for the magazine but I see everybody's gone." So I said, "I think we just took another vote." And everybody died because it was—I mean, if I hadn't said that to relieve the tension, I think somebody would have hit him.

There are all kinds of stories that black reporters could tell you of being on the elevator and people—I was watching "I'll Fly Away"* the other night and these two white men, Sam Waterston's character was talking to some guy who was visiting him and the black maid was serving them. And they were talking about "niggers" and stuff and, "You know how they are," like she wasn't even there. And at one point, she said, "More tea, Mr. So-and-So," and even then with her intervention, he didn't get it. And that was just the way it was at the Times, that you would just—it was amazing. You were just invisible a lot of the time.

And I guess that had a different effect on different people. It made some people really bitter. It made me just work my ass off, just to show them. But what I was doing was important because everybody in the black community would call me, just like they did Tom, you know, they saw us. And you know what's interesting is that they didn't see us as their advocates, they saw us as their allies, which is very different.

Clark: That's very interesting.

Hunter-Gault: Yes. They didn't want us lying or making up stuff or making them look good only, but they saw us as people who would endeavor to present a balanced view of the community. And I was never at a loss for sources and stories.

And then—well, there was that memo but that's all a matter of—

* Early 1990s television drama set in the 1950s American South.

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Clark: Let's talk about that on tape. We actually talked about that off tape.

Hunter-Gault: Yes.

Clark: You wrote a memo in the early seventies, I guess it was?

Hunter-Gault: I guess it was, when things were changing. Everybody was scrambling to try to figure out the changes in America from civil rights movement to Black Power to Black Nationalism and so forth. And then in the course of all that, you know, one of the off-shoots of it was this demand to stop calling us "Negroes." And it was pretty widespread. And so there came a time when the general acceptance in the community was such that I started writing it in my copy. I had filed on a women's meeting in Chicago, black women's meeting. In those days you called it in on the phone and it went into the system and the ten automatic copies were printed and transcribed and went on out to the editors. And I left and called in for questions, no questions, and came on to New York and picked up the editor. I started reading and I couldn't believe it. Every other place I had used "Negro," the copy editor had just alternately used "black"—any place I had used "black," he had just alternately put in "Negro."

Clark: What do you mean by alternately?

Hunter-Gault: Well, you know, I'd write "black" and then he'd write "Negro" and then the next time he'd write—he left in some "black" but he was putting in "Negro." And I was just furious. It was the height of the white imperialist arrogance know-it-all thing. I mean, he didn't even question me about it, just changed it with no sensitivity or understanding of what was really happening. He just took it upon himself. And I called and said, "Why did you do that? Why was that done?" I called the editor and he said—you know, that was the other thing, they didn't treat it seriously. I'm reporting from the front lines.

So I sat down and I was just going to write a paragraph and the next thing I knew I had just—I haven't read Ellis Cose's book yet about the "rage of the [black] middle class,"* but I guess that at a certain level I had a certain amount of rage that I hadn't ventilated. But it was not so much necessarily just from the experience in the newsroom but just being a black person in America, you can't divorce yourself. Just like I think that's why a lot of the racism persists in the media because these editors and people who are in charge can't divorce themselves from where they come from and how they live. So they bring all of the—you know, for all of the talk about journalism being and media being kind of an island, it isn't. The same people who go home at night to their white suburbs and their racially pristine environments are the people who come in and make decisions. And they suddenly are going to be transformed and have sensitivity on these things, some of which are subtle and some of which aren't?

Clark: Even objectivity.

Hunter-Gault: And so I guess it was the function of being a black person in society as well as being in the newsroom.

Clark: Who did you address the memo to?

Hunter-Gault: The editors. And that was the thing that pissed off the national editor, who was a good man. I mean, a third part of me hurt because of who he was and his sensitivity generally. He was pissed. And he came over—because what happened was—it was Gene Roberts. What happened was by the time I finished the memo it was ten pages. And I didn't even count it. I just dictated it all. [Tape Interruption.]

* The Rage of a Privileged Class ("Why Are Middle Class Blacks Angry? Why Should America Care?")

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Hunter-Gault: So I dictated it into the machine. And I was exhausted because I think I had worked late—I can't remember.

Clark: You wrote it to all the editors.

Hunter-Gault: Yes. And it may have been even a Saturday, I'm not sure. Well, whenever you dictated into that machine, ten copies were automatically distributed.

Clark: Oh, you used the same machine.

Hunter-Gault: The same machine I dictated the piece on, it was like dictating—that's what upset Gene. He wanted to know—you know Gene was slow and lumbering and he walked over to the desk and he was really upset. And I understand why he was upset because we did have a good relationship. He had given me opportunities that were unheard of at the paper. I got to write the lead—I was the main writer, the writer on Ben Chaney—his brother [James Chaney] was one of the ones murdered in Philadelphia, Mississippi and then he, the brother, got into trouble and murdered somebody and went to prison.* And the story was how he fell from grace. It had never happened that one of us, blacks, had written the lead and he asked me, because I had done a lot of reporting on it and I did the writing on it. And it was kind of a breakthrough.

And other things, you know, like I was even working for the national desk on this story even though I was on the metro desk. And he said, "Why you didn't come to me?" I said, "I'm just sick of this, I'm just tired of people making presumptions about things without checking and this and that." And he said, "But you could have come to me. You know I would have understood." I said, "I know that, Gene. But you would have done is that you would have gone to the editor who did it, dressed him down or corrected him or whatever and it wouldn't have been in the system. It would have been the one-on-one and there wouldn't have been any systemic change made." I said, "I wanted this to be weighed—I wanted it to weigh in with everybody. I wanted Abe [Rosenthal] to rule on it. I wanted everybody to see what I had to say." He's really pissed, still.

Clark: What was the impact?

Hunter-Gault: Abe's answer, argument was, "Well, if he wrote a memo—" he said, "Just like everything, you know, you write a memo and then everybody follows it to the letter and if you've neglected to mention something, some aspect that you leave to their judgment, then they don't leave it to their judgment, they refer to the memo." I said, "But this is fundamental." And so he wrote the memo and that way it resulted in a change of policy.

And it wasn't just the matter of a word. I mean, it was just like the issue of the question about truth. I wasn't interested in nitpicking over a word. This to me was something fundamental because it represented—it's a mind-set, it wasn't different from the issue of the truth. It went to mind-set. And the memo addressed white male, suburban mind-set. And I guess in part because—I mean, it's never occurred to me that people would regard any of this as anything other than constructive.

Now, obviously they were pissed but I have felt protected to a certain extent because people know who I am and I'm not who I am simply because I am who I am. I am who I am because I've worked to be who I am. You know, I could have been the pioneer and the civil rights pioneer could have been my persona from all of

* James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman were the three civil rights workers who were killed on June 21, 1964, after being detained on false charges by a deputy sheriff, Cecil Price, in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

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my career. But what kind of career would that have been? I mean, I would have made speeches in churches and gatherings and things like that. But that was never my intention from the start. My intention was to become a journalist and make my name in that arena.

So while I have sensibilities that were honed in the crucible of the civil rights movement, these were all affirmed by America. This vision that I have of a world of freedom and justice, of human rights and civil rights and fairness, were all values that America affirmed at that time. And they're not transitory. They're transcendent and they're timeless.

So it's been a good vision to work with because it helps you to—see, that was a lesson that Shawn taught me about writing, that the "Trip to Leverton," as I told you, was just chock full of excess and verbiage. And Shawn saw a story in it and he said, "This is a great story here. Your grandmother was a wonderful person. And you should go back—it doesn't quite work yet." That was the big way, a gentle way of saying a piece stinks. Well, you didn't know whether it was, you know, extreme or not, because "it doesn't quite work" could apply to something that was really horrendous or something that was almost there. You had to listen to the detail of the rest of the discussion.

And what he said to me was that this was a piece. It's just got too much stuff in it. And frankly, I had been looking at what everybody else was doing, and that's why it was so chock full of stuff, because all those other people were chock full of stuff. The fly crawling on the wall and how far he crawled and what kind of table it was he crawled on and how much dust was on the table and what was under the table. You know, that was the kind of stuff.

But at any rate, I saw very clearly what he meant and went and just sucked out all of that excess and produced that piece. And I think that's how I've looked at—how this preparation, the kind of preparation I have for living enabled me to not get distracted by the small things, by the excess, by society's shoes. That is not to say that I haven't had my share of—I think all of us who get into this business, or in the past had kind of peculiar natures. I think that we're both introverts and extroverts and that we are fragile in many ways. I think that's probably why in the old days reporters used to have such a reputation for being heavy drinkers. You know, we are sensitive people, and probably that's why we are fragile. And probably fighting those tendencies between being introverted and extroverted. I mean, all kind of things.

So I'm not trying to paint a picture of someone who never had a blue mood, who never had a dark day. I mean, I got caught in a buzz-saw at the Times between Sydney Schanberg and Mike Levitas when they were contesting for position and preeminence. And I got almost chewed up in that buzz-saw which is in fact part of the reason I came here because the two of them were—

Clark: And just describe the positions they were vying for.

Hunter-Gault: Well, you know, Schanberg came back from Vietnam and they put him in there as assistant editor. It was always who was going to end up as "Arthur and Abe," and they were always the white boys, you know, and the Jewish boys.* And I say that because there was a perception that only the Jewish boys had a shot, even the Anglo-Saxon white boys didn't think they necessarily had a shot.

Clark: And we are talking about all boys here.

Hunter-Gault: But we are talking about all boys. And so, you know, those two boys—men—were put in a position where they'd have to—that was the management way they dealt with things—scratch each other's eyes

* Arthur [Gelb] and Abe [Rosenthal], deputy managing editor and managing editor, who were almost never seen without each other.

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out to see which one of them was going to emerge triumphant as the heir apparent. And I think that Sydney saw me as Mike's person. And it was interesting because my work started to deteriorate under that. I mean, I just couldn't function under it. Sydney was always picking it apart.

Clark: This was still metro?

Hunter-Gault: Yes, still metro. I remember one series I was working on—I can't even remember what it was now—and it was just awful. I mean, I couldn't function under that pressure. And Schanberg would beat Levitas over the head with it. And Levitas would come and beat me over the head with it. And I just got paralyzed. And I was very unhappy. That doesn't have anything to do with race. I mean, it may have. It just was the dynamics of the way management worked. And a lot of people were unhappy because a lot of things were going down that weren't good. It was one of those painful, disorderly [situations].

Clark: Is this when [James] Reston came in for a year or so?

Hunter-Gault: No. No. Reston was out of it at this point. This was Gelb.

Clark: This was [Max] Frankel?

Hunter-Gault: No, no. This was before Frankel. Abe was still reigning supreme. I was looking for something different. The problem, I could have—I'd even talked with Abe once about going on the national staff. But I had little kids and, you know, that's a lot of traveling. And so that wouldn't have worked out for me then. So that was how I came to leave, in the middle of all that mess.

Clark: One more question?

Hunter-Gault: Okay.

Clark: In your judgment, as your own kind of historian and as a journalist, as an historian by way of the media, even when you were with the New Yorker, what was your judgment about the New York Times' express commitment to cover what was happening in Harlem and to cover the lives of black people well? How do you think they did in terms of both the numbers of people they hired to cover blacks and also in terms of their reportage and their willingness to let reports get in the paper without being over-edited? It's a big question I know but I'd like to have your judgment on that.

Hunter-Gault: I don't know how over-edited they were. I felt that there was a strong commitment to the Harlem bureau because Arthur was the kind of editor who loved new things and new ideas and he had a hundred a minute, you know, a good number of them that were interesting and some that weren't. Some that worked and some that didn't. So that was interesting.

But there was no sustained commitment to it. And part of that was our fault. But I could understand how that happened, too. Most of the black reporters didn't see this necessarily as plum because they had their own ambitions, they wanted to do other things, and they felt like if they did this, it would limit them in their mobility. I remember when I got pregnant—I mean, I worked there for a long time while I was pregnant but then I had to go on maternity leave. And I thought that they would leap at the chance to take over the bureau because it was so much freedom. And none of them wanted it. In fact, the only one who stepped up to the plate and offered to do it was Joe Lelyveld.

Clark: That's interesting.

Hunter-Gault: Joe had done the major work and I had worked as a leg person with him on a prize-winning piece we did on the youngest person, Walker Vandermeer. And it was interesting. But it was interesting also—

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I don't remember how it happened—I think Arthur and I had a back-and-forth about it because I think I was saying that Arthur should insist. I remember I did say, "You're the boss, Boss." But he didn't want to make anybody do anything they didn't want to do. And yet he didn't want them to do what they wanted to do. Or there wasn't somehow—a way wasn't made for them to do it. I don't know that it was a matter of his personal will. But there was a lack of confidence. And I find that even today that white editors in their heart of hearts just don't have confidence in black people.

Clark: It's interesting, I found in something called "Times Black"—and I'd like to know what it is, actually, because I guess it's a [Times] house organ of some kind—that Nancy Hicks said—or maybe, no, it was an interview with Kay Mills, I'm sorry—Nancy Hicks said that the intelligence of a black person was always in question, unlike, say, in the women's movement generally, you know, white women dealing with editors, there were problems over this and that. But there was always the question of the basic intelligence of blacks. That was always a question. Would you agree with that?

Hunter-Gault: That sounds right to me. And then there are all kinds of condescending ways that they deal with you. But the other thing is this, what they don't think we know. But I'd know because the editors have told me of the surgery they had to often do on some of the big name writers to make what they wrote make sense—white men, you know, who might be able to get out there and get the facts but couldn't any more present them in a coherent way and they were forever writing them, rewriting them, and they never—

I think that Gerald was a much better writer than many of these people but they never went the extra mile, you know, for him. They'd go the extra mile for somebody who looked like them. They would take the time, you know, and build them up. And the word would never go out what horrible writers they were. I found out about some of them because they were writing for the New Yorker and the editors over there would—

[End of Tape 1, Side B; Begin Tape 2, Side A]

Hunter-Gault: I was going to say that if it were a black person, then it would be attributed to lack of intelligence or lack of this or lack of preparation or whatever, without ever even thinking about the similarities. It's a problem.

I had an editor tell me one time—I wrote something and another reporter there wrote something and I said, "Well, why is he getting all this space and I'm not?" And he said, "Well, he's just better than you are." Well, it's possible that that was true. I don't think so. But if you're trying to be sensitive to the morale and you're trying to educate—well, not educate—but get the most out of your staff, that's not what you tell somebody. Of course, I was rather prickly about the whole exercise but still, if the history and the pattern and the practice suggest certain attitudes, then you're going to respond that way.

I shouldn't just name names.

Clark: You're free to do whatever you want and then close the pages.

Hunter-Gault: Well, I don't want to name any name. But you know, there were just some editors who came back from successful tours abroad to whom nobody could tell anything. They thought they knew everything. And they didn't always. That's not to take anything away from them and what they accomplished. But their attitude, it was just—

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Clark: It seems as if that was the transition in the period of the newsroom where they started to take editors who had been formerly war correspondents versus moving them up through the system of just being an editor.*

Hunter-Gault: Yes. And you see, not every correspondent, not every journalist in the field—I mean, I don't know what kind of editor I would make but I would never want to be one. I mean, I don't see that as the natural progression. That's not what I want to do. I do a certain amount of that now, working with producers. But if I have my druthers when I have the time, I would much rather do the writing and have somebody else do the other. I don't want that responsibility.

It's not a matter of not wanting responsibility. It's not what I think I'm cut out for, not where I think my best strength is.

Clark: Thank you so much.

* In the older system Theodore Bernstein, a former editor at the Times, mentored copy editors on various desks including the foreign copy desk, into powerful management positions in the newsrooms. By the end of Bernstein's era foreign correspondents replaced foreign desk editors in those more powerful newsroom positions.

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