[Begin Tape 1, Side A]
Moorhus: I really want to cover the presidential debate in 1992, but I don't want to take away the opportunity for you to talk about the third traumatic event that happened that was so stressful. We talked about Johannesburg and the beating in South Africa, and we talked about the carjacking. You said there was a third event that was so traumatic for you.
Simpson: The third event was last summer, a year ago, May. May 15, 1993. I remember the date, because it was the date I was receiving my first honorary degree from Marymount College in Tarrytown, New York, and I was so excited. Susan King, who is a former colleague from ABC and a local anchor at Channel 7 here, that's her alma mater, and so she and I decided to fly up together, and she actually hooded me, so it was a very special, lovely event. It was a beautiful day, and it was outside on the Hudson River. I was just really thrilled with the day, and had told ABC.
The ceremony was at noon. I thought I could get on the three o'clock shuttle [flight] and be back in Washington at four, so that I could do the newscast that Sunday night. We went up early in the morning, took an early shuttle up in the morning, and then went to the ceremony, and then came back and took the three o'clock shuttle. Having a great time, got on the plane, there were a couple of other ABC people on the plane, and the plane was quite full for a Sunday afternoon flying from New York to Washington.
We were in La Guardia [Airport]. As I said, again, it was a gorgeous, gorgeous day. We get twenty minutes out of La Guardia, and we hit turbulence in the plane like I have never been in in my life, and I have flown most of my life—trips overseas, everywhere. Military planes, helicopters, small twin engines, I've been on every kind of aircraft available because much of the job has required that. But we're up in this plane, and it is like all of a sudden, the pilot comes on and says, "Flight attendants, take your seats immediately," and nothing else was said, so I'm like, "Holy cow." So they immediately scrambled. They were serving in the aisles, and they sat down all of a sudden, and we are riding like a bucking bronco. The plane was—I was holding on like this. It was like some horrible carnival ride. I've never been in such turbulence.
So Susan King and I are sitting there, and I'm like, "Let's talk about something. Let's start talking about something. I do not want to talk about what seems to be happening outside this plane," and we're trying to just talk. I mean, really, people are holding on. You can tell people are getting nervous. People are putting things away and securing their seatbelts tighter, and the pilot is not telling us anything, but I could tell he's trying to go up. I could tell he was trying to go down, trying to get around it, trying to find some smooth air everywhere. Couldn't find it.
All of a sudden, lightning hit the wing tip off the—I was sitting in the aisle seat, Susan was in the center seat, and it was some strange woman sitting next to the window—and we're in clouds. It's grey, grey, grey, you couldn't see anything outside. You could see the lightning hit the wing tip, and it crackled across the plane into the cabin. You could see the lightning arc on the inside of the plane and go out the other way. I didn't know they were built that way to take it,
to absorb it, but that's what's supposed to happen, but I had never seen lightning inside the plane before in my life, and when it did that, the plane made this unbelievable lurching.
The woman who was sitting next to the window said, "Did you see that?" And I'm like, "I saw nothing. I saw nothing at all." I'm like just trying to put this out of my mind. I really thought we were going to die.
So everybody is terrified on the plane by now, with lightning, and now we're flying in this lightning, and we're hit again about five minutes later. I'm thinking lightning never strikes twice in the same place, and that's true, I'm thinking why did we get hit again, but we were in a different place. We had moved to a different place! [Laughter.] Now it hit the plane again, like the back of the plane, and the plane is just—I mean, that was it. People started screaming then. I'm looking at the time, it's now four o'clock, we've been up there bouncing around for an hour, and I can't call. The electrical system had knocked out the phones, so we couldn't use the phones. I want to tell ABC, "I don't know what's happening, I may be dead, I'm not going to make it," and we were bouncing around for an hour and a half up in there like that, people praying. I was sure I was going to die, that this was going to be it.
And again, it was like the other experiences I had where you had this jolt all of a sudden from a very pleasant thing happening to something very unpleasant happening. It was just like South Africa and it was just like the carjacking, because I was getting the house filled with groceries, buying cookies and all the goodies and stuff like that, and then something shocking, totally unexpected comes out of the blue.
As I said, no bad weather had been forecast or anything. It was a beautiful day in New York, and what had happened was we got caught in one of those freak, horrible Washington storms, and we're bouncing around, and again the pilot's not telling us anything. And now it's 4:30, it's quarter to five, and we're still bouncing around like crazy up there.
Finally, he comes on the loudspeaker and says, "Ladies and gentlemen, I'm sorry for the rough ride. We haven't been able to talk to you, but we've been a little busy in the cockpit," and I'm like, "Oh, God, I'm sure you were. Don't tell me about it." [Laughter.] He said, "We can't land in Washington. There are cross winds, fifty, sixty-mile-an-hour cross winds. We're going to have to land in Baltimore."
And again, I can't describe you continually doing like this in a plane, turbulence that just wouldn't stop, and we finally landed in Baltimore, and they said, "Well, ladies and gentlemen, we think Washington is open, and those of you who want to, you can back on the plane and go to Washington." Everybody's like, "Get me off. I do not want to get on a plane."
I called Washington as soon as we landed. Again, I was able to kind of not be as afraid, because I'm still thinking about trying to get back to Washington to do the news. I called them when I landed, and I said, "I just landed. The weather was horrible, and I'm going to try to get there as soon as I can. I'll try."
So we hired a limousine. There were four of us that were ABC employees, and Susan, and we just grabbed this limousine, "Please, can you get us back?" The rain is coming down, it was still horrible, stormy, even in Baltimore and into Washington. We get back here at quarter to six, and I am like, "Get me ready." I was still just putting out of my mind everything else that had happened. "Get me ready. I'm ready," but a nervous wreck. I mean, I was just terrified, really.
Now I realize—in retrospect—but I was glad that I had something that I could focus on: "I've got to get there to do the news."
They slapped makeup on me. It was pouring rain when I ran into the place, my hair was wet, and they combed it up and pushed it up, and I ran out there. I hadn't read any of the copy, but I sat down and did a flawless newscast—absolutely flawless. That doesn't happen on most newscasts. Always something goes wrong. There's some kind of stumble or something like that. And I had people tell me afterwards what a great newscast it was and how great I looked, and I said, "I guess that's what looking death in the face will do to you. It'll liven you up." [Laughter.]
So I got through all of that, got through the newscast, and again, come home that night and just fall apart, absolutely fall apart, because I really thought that was it. I had to get on a plane again two days later and I didn't want to, and I thought I was going to be terrified of flying forever, and I'm going, "You can't do this. Don't be ridiculous. Flying is your life. You have to do it." So I had to get back onto a plane.
But it was one of those horrible, horrible times with your life flashing before you. "Oh, God, what did I say to Jim before I left home? Did I hug at him before I left? When is the last time I talked to my daughter? Oh, what a terrible way to have to die."
So that was the third in a string of things that really just jolted me horribly—really, really horribly.
Moorhus: Did it change the way you operate on a day-to-day basis?
Simpson: Yes. It reminds you, again, how short life is, how fleeting it is. We're getting ready to go to Hawaii in July this year, and my husband and I talked, "How are we going to cut corners, use frequent flyer miles, and this is a really nice hotel but can we afford to?" I've gotten to the point where I really start thinking about me and my time with my family and it's very precious. You know, so what? Let's spend the extra money. Yes, let's go first class. Why not? We deserve it. We work hard. We owe it to ourselves. It has made me think about me a little bit more and what legacy I'm leaving behind, how good a mother I am, how good a wife I am. I mean really assessing all of those things and being much more conscious when I leave in the morning or when my husband walks out the door, that I may not see him. Or Adam, that I may not see him.
We do this corny stuff about not having any baggage, settle everything before. I travel a lot and I don't want to go away mad, I don't want him going out of the door mad, so we settle all things. And with Adam, I'm spending so much time now with "I love you, you are my boy, you are mine." I'm conscious of making him feel good about himself, wondering what would happen if something happened to him tomorrow. I want him to have this self-esteem, I want him to know that he was loved and cared for, because teenagers are difficult to hug, and he doesn't want to be bothered with it. He's like, "Mom, stop." But I know it probably will someday mean something to him, that we are touching and that we are hugging. I even talk to my husband about, "You've got to hug him." Men have got to hug each other. He's got to feel loved and cared for. I'm so concerned about young people today with their self-esteem and lack of confidence, and "Do I have a place in this world?"
So it did, it really changed my personal relationships and placed them much more valuable in my eyes. I've worked very hard at my career and worked very hard to be good at it, but this is what I have given in the four commencement speeches this year. And I talked about family. What's the most important thing in my life today? Not my celebrity at ABC News or that
Michael Eisner invited me to a special VIP reception for the screening of "The Lion King" or that I walk up and down the street and people recognize me or I go in restaurants and people will give me a good table. That's not what's important. What's important to me is my daughter, my son, my husband, our relationship. So I have taken away from ABC, taken away from the energy that I spend so much on the job, and have turned more of that on my family. I always tried to be good about that, but now I really see how fleeting and how quickly—you know, a quick shuttle trip to New York. Do it all the time. Quick shuttle trip. Could have been gone, not knowing.
I had a lump discovered. I have lumpy breasts. We are terrified of breast cancer, and when I found this lump and thought about it—you don't know from day to day what's going to happen, so I want to make sure that all my stuff with family is taken care of, that they know I love them, that they know I'm proud of them. I try not to be as critical and judgmental and yelling and screaming because I get crazed and crazy about what's happening at work. So I'm much more focused on family and its importance in the scheme of things. ABC could fire me tomorrow, and what would I have? I have family. That's my support system. That's what really counts.
Moorhus: You said that you did not want to be asked to go to South Africa for the elections this spring, because you would have felt like saying no. Have there been other instances where ABC did ask you to take on an assignment or whatever, and you thought about it, and for reasons of this kind of new sense of priorities, you said no?
Simpson: No, there hasn't been anything. There may come something, but it hasn't happened yet. I've always gone wherever they wanted me to go. As I say, I was glad they didn't ask me so I wouldn't have to say no. But, no, I've always gone.
Moorhus: So it doesn't change the way you work, but it changes the way you feel about the way you work? Is that what you're saying?
Simpson: Yes, and the importance of it. Yes, it's important for me to continue to do a good job, and I'm going to do a good job, and it's still a requirement of my job that I travel, and I'm not going to be home as much as I might like to these days. That's a reality, that I am going to have to travel and I am going to have to do these things that they ask me to do, because I think they value that I'm one of those people they can call on, dependable and a team player. "We need you here," I'm there, I do it.
If they say, "Look, we want you to go to Russia for six weeks and do bureau duty there," I probably would say no. I don't want to be away from the family anymore like I used to. I would have jumped at that some time ago, but as I say, these experiences of how fleeting life is, and in a moment to be gone, I'm not going to do stuff I don't want to do anymore. I'm really not. I'm really not going to do it.
As I say, I may come to the point where I'll say, "ABC, sorry, I can't travel anymore, I don't want to do this," and I will seek another kind of employment.
Moorhus: You said you had been seeing a therapist, working through some of these issues. Is that right?
Simpson: Yes, because what they think—I had in '92, before the plane accident, the plane near-miss, whatever it was—
Simpson: Yes, incident. It was more than an incident. In '92, I had come off three solid weeks of no days off. I was anchoring on Saturdays and Sundays, I was doing news briefs, I was traveling with the "American Agenda," and I had a very, very stressful period of time where I was really tired and worn out. I had agreed to narrate a documentary on substance abuse for public schools across America, high schools. It was one of the good works that I do. The Department of HHS [Health and Human Services] had asked me to narrate this documentary, and I was to do it in Anacostia [area of Southeast Washington.]
It was in April, but it was a very hot April, and we had different locations. They would set up the camera, I would do some on-camera bridges, and then other stuff would happen, and we would break down and go to another location, and I would stand there, and I would say something else, and we were moving about. It was hot, hot, hot, hot, hot, and because it was so bright and it was the middle of the day, at noontime the sun comes directly over your head and gives you raccoon eyes unless you put bright lights and reflectors in the face to try to compensate, so I'm trying to read the teleprompter with these bright lights in my face, and all of a sudden I collapsed. Never had anything like that.
It was like something snapped and I blacked out for a second, and it was like the worst dizzy spell I ever had had in my life. It seemed like an eternity. It was probably only a few seconds, but my head was spinning round and round and round, I was seeing spots in front of my eyes, and I think I blacked out for a few minutes, but I didn't fall. I kind of slumped to the pavement, and Larry Drum, who is my makeup man, was there with me, and everybody huddled around me, and said, "Carole, what's wrong?"
I said, "I don't know. I had this horrible dizzy spell. I felt like I was going to black out."
We were near a public school, and he said, "Let's go inside," and they got cold towels, and I went to the bathroom. I had spotted, and I said, "Oh, that's what it is, my period started. I must just be—I'm tired, I'm stressed out, and it's my period, and that's what happened." But it was a frightening, frightening experience. So we continued for a half hour. I wasn't feeling well. I was still feeling woozy, but I was able to continue and finish the documentary.
Came back here to the office about 2:30 in the afternoon, still feeling like my head is kind of swimming and stuff, so I said, "I just probably need some days off." That was on a Friday, so I said, "I'm going to take three or four days off, take some vacation time." I called in and said, "Somebody else do the newscast. I've been working three weeks in a row and I'm not feeling well."
Well, this dizziness did not go away. I would lie down, and my head felt weird, and I'm like, "Oh, my God, I've got a brain tumor. I must have a brain tumor." I couldn't figure it out. I called my doctor, and I said, "I've got these dizzy spells and I feel terrible. I don't know what's wrong with me."
This is my internist who's been with me for twenty years through all my stress-related kinds of things, and he said, "Oh, you're probably just tired, and it's probably nothing. I'll give you some Antivert," which is an anti-vertigo pill. I took that. All it did was make me sleepy, and my head still felt weird. So finally I said, "This isn't working."
A week later, when I'm still not feeling much better, and accompanying this was nausea, wooziness, lack of steadiness walking, kind of like stumbling around, so he said, "I'm going to have you see a neurologist."
To make a long story short, I ended up going to three physicians, and going through $5,000 worth of tests. I had an MRI of my head, I had all these hearing tests; they thought it was probably a middle ear infection. They found no signs of a brain tumor, that was the good news, but they couldn't find anything that was causing this, and kind of said, "Well, you probably have fluid in your ear." I went to an otologist, I went to neurologists, a neurosurgeon, all of these different kinds of people, trying to find out. So they suspected, because I travel a lot, that "It's just been all of this repeated flying that has disturbed your inner ear and it's something you're going to have to live with." But every time I would fly, I would get horrible nausea. By the time I'd hit the ground, I would be out of sorts for a long while. So they said, "Don't read on the plane. Don't read whenever you're in motion. You're probably having a motion problem."
Anyhow, this goes on for about a year, with me trying to—we went to Europe last year—and I'm still not feeling good. I didn't feel good for a long time. Still the nausea, upset stomach, this crazy feeling in my head. We went to some movie, and the camera was panning over a road or something like an eye-level view or something, I got sick as a dog in the theater. I could no longer watch anything that had any motion in it. We went to the Grand Canyon, and looking down, my head would start swimming. For nobody to be able to explain to you what the heck is going on was really disconcerting. You know I'm not making this up, I'm feeling horrible.
I was sitting here last August, typing on my computer, and CNN was on live in the background, and "Sonia Live" happened to be on, and they were talking about panic attacks. I was kind of working, and I'm always kind of half listening and half working, and I listened to these people on there describing some of their symptoms about balance, about vertigo, about wooziness. In the meantime, my heart, I would get these heart palpitations. It was like my heart was skipping beats. My doctor did an EKG. "Your heart is fine, there's nothing wrong with your heart."
And I'm like, "How can all these doctors be telling me nothing is wrong with me, and I'm feeling so bad?" Then I started getting on the air, and while I was doing the newscast, these things would come over me, and I don't know how I was able to keep going, but I would keep going, and the prompter would start to blur and things like that, and I'm going, "This is really, really bad," and it started scaring me. I think that fear started the heart palpitations, and then I would get on the air and my heart would start beating, because I was scared I was going to have a dizzy spell on the air.
I'm listening to CNN, and there was a woman from NIMH, the National Institutes of Mental Health, talking about panic disorder and anxiety attacks, and how anxiety can bring on these physical symptoms. This one person that was on there said, "I went to ten doctors before they told me what I had was stress, an anxiety disorder related to stress." And I'm like, "Oh, my God, this sounds like maybe this is what it is," because I was so stressed out.
Well, I ended up calling the woman I had seen on TV, and I said, "I'm Carole Simpson. I know this is weird, but I just saw you, and these people were talking about panic attacks, and I think I'm having this. I think I have this anxiety thing. My heart." I said, "Do you know who I should see, or do you treat this? I want to find—" and I told her all the history of how I'd been feeling for over a year and a half.
She said, "I have just the person for you to see," and she recommended that I see Jerilyn Ross, who is head of the Ross Center for Anxiety Disorders.
ABC knows nothing about this, so this is part of the oral history. They know I've been treated for stress. They know that I am being treated for stress, but I have not turned in my
medical forms. I just don't want it associated with a problem that I may have that may make me less valuable or whatever because of it.
So I went to see her, and she thinks from those three incidents that I described to you, that I was suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, because I was getting—I was—I was very fearful. I was agitated. I could tell that I was jumpy, and in a constant state of having butterflies in my stomach, and it was all that. She said, "Look at the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and think back on how you were feeling." And she said, "We have many people that have come in here that have been to doctors just like you, and the medical profession is not aware how many people are suffering stress, and it's the stress that is giving you these symptoms. You've got to re-order your life. You've got to prioritize, you've got to start taking care of yourself. You've given, given, given, given."
This is after weeks of therapy. What they did was prescribe the drug Xanax, which takes care of the physical symptoms. It's a highly addictive drug, which I am now off of, I'm proud to say, but it took care of the physical symptoms. And with her therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, she taught me how to go into myself, picking a secret place that I can go to when things get very stressful. I can send myself to my favorite spot in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and I just transport myself there, and I listen to the sounds of the sea, I smell the flowers and I hear the birds chirping, and I'm able to mentally kind of remove myself from these, when things get crazy. It's wonderful.
I was embarrassed that I was seeing a psychotherapist, because I had always taken pride in my ability to cope, that I had great coping skills. No matter what happened, I could handle it and I could take care of it, and clearly what had happened was repeated trauma and my so-called coping strengths were destroyed. So I have been in therapy with her. I learned breathing exercises that I can do, very deep abdominal breathing, which I didn't know how to do.
It was recommended that I start this exercise program. That's why I started with a personal trainer. I tried to exercise on my own, but realized I was going to have to pay for that and that somebody was going to have to show up at my house or I wasn't going to do it. So in November I got the personal trainer. I began seeing the therapist in August .
I began saying no, which was hard for me to say. People would say, "Carole, we're trying to raise money for clothes for homeless children, and we're having this fundraising dinner, and we need a name to come, and if you would speak, we'll really be able to get a lot of money." These were all things that I would do for nothing, again taking time away from the family, but just having an inability to say no when it was something that I thought was worthwhile or a good project or something that I cared about. I had to stop. To begin doing that, to get myself well, I just kind of cut off everything. I'm not accepting any more speeches, I'm not accepting any more panel discussions, I'm going to cut back on all the different organizations that I belong to, and I just had to withdraw. From November until about March, I withdrew from all of this other stuff, and just did work and family and started taking care of Carole for the first time in my life. Getting massages. I'd never done that. Wonderful stress reliever, getting massages. The exercise I hated at first, now I enjoy it. I am more energetic, I'm off the medication, I'm out of therapy, and I realize that this job was driving me crazy, that it was too much, and I was trying to be all things to all people, and I was the one that was neglected.
And I've told young people that, and I knew that. I knew that I was not taking time for myself, that I would come home and there would be homework to do with Adam and there would be dinner with the husband, there would be some reading I'd have to do in connection with work.
I didn't go to the beauty parlor and sit, I didn't have lunch with lady friends, I didn't socialize on Saturday nights the way I would like to. Everything was just work and stuff that I was doing, speeches I was giving, appearances I was making, and all of that stuff, and never did anything for me.
So now I have learned, very late in my life, that none of this is going to work if you don't take care of yourself, and that you have got to make time. I always said I didn't have time for exercise. "I don't have time to go get a massage. I don't have time to go get my nails done." All those things, I find now, are relaxing to me, and I do make time for them, and I do go get my massages and my facials, and I am working out four times a week, and I'm like a new person. I'm this brand-new person.
I'm more effective, I think, at work. I'm more effective when I sit down to write. I realized, I can now sit down, like I told you about writing those body-image pieces, and I find this stuff comes quicker. I'm not spending as much time. I'm able to do things in a shorter amount of time that used to be real struggles because I was worn out. I was totally, totally worn out and burnt out and stressed out.
So that's why I was telling you when I gave the commencement addresses, we were superwomen in the 1960s. We wanted to have it all, and we did have it all, and I'm grateful to say I had it all. I had a loving husband, twenty-eight years it will be in September; lovely smart daughter who is going to be a doctor someday; a great thirteen-year-old son. And this is the most important thing, and I was trying to tell the graduates that, yeah, we sacrificed a lot and it took me a long time to realize that I sacrificed myself for all these things. We did, as superwomen, and we find that our twenty-something daughters don't want to do that. I was disappointed when my daughter didn't want to follow in my footsteps and be the next Carole Simpson, and she told me, "I don't want to work as hard as you do."
Moorhus: So she's becoming a doctor?
Simpson: And, yes, she's becoming a doctor because she saw that the work I did was very hard on me and stuff like that. So I try to tell these graduates, "You've got to do a better job of balancing than we did." Work is important, but family is important, and I think they're going to face an environment—that's what my speech was about—that will be much more family-friendly. I was afraid to tell ABC, "I need to go to my son's play." I would call in sick, because I was afraid, "Oh, dear, she's a woman and she has children and she's not as valuable or as important as a man to us because she has to do these female things." So I would never use that as an excuse. Now I proudly say, "Sorry. Adam's graduating." He was graduating from the eighth grade last week, and they wanted me to do "Newsbrief." I'm sorry. No. Adam's graduating. I'm not going to do "Newsbrief." And I can remember a period of time, I'd go, "Adam, I'm sorry, I'd really like to be there, but ABC feels I need to do this." I don't do that anymore.
Moorhus: And you think the network is more responsive than they would have been?
Simpson: No, I was telling the graduates at these commencement speeches that I think the corporate world that they will go into now is doing more family-friendly policies. They're helping with childcare. They're giving paternity leave. We have a family leave bill now. When I was taking care of my sick father and trying to balance my children and I was part of the "sandwich generation" with an elderly parent and children and a job and trying to do all of that, there was no such thing as family leave that you could take and go take care of your father. I had to try to do everything a day here, a day there. He was in Chicago.
So America is realizing women are going to be in the workplace. Families are going to exist. We need to make things easier for them, not harder for them.
Moorhus: Do you think ABC is making it easier for younger women?
Simpson: No, not yet. I can't say that. Probably on the corporate side. On the news side, our business is such that it is not a nine-to-five job five days a week. We have to cover the news. So the news business is always going to be a toughie, but you see accommodations being made. Like I saw at NBC that two women correspondents with young children are now splitting that correspondent job. Efforts have been made here to let people work four-day work weeks. So if it's a valued employee and someone that they care about, they will make compensations, but corporate-wide, or division-wide, it is not yet in place.
But I think all of America, corporate America, is moving in that direction to be able to hang onto good, qualified people. Europe has known this for years, that women are the childbearers of society, but also we value their work, so they have free daycare. They have universal health coverage. They have maternity leave in France for up to a year at 90 percent of your salary. Ninety percent of your salary, you can stay off a year and continue to collect that, because they want you to come back and be a happy employee, do that bonding that you need to do with your children.
America has been very behind in that whole recognition of families and the importance of helping our families be intact. What we do is, "Hey, you gotta be here sixty hours a week or you don't make partner," and I think lawyers are realizing that, because men want to spend more time with their families. Even they are [saying], "Why am I killing myself? I don't want to do this."
So this Generation X that's coming along, I think they're going to do a better job than we baby-boomers did. They realize the importance. Sixty-four percent of them say they want to spend more time with their children than their parents did with them, and I think they're going to make better parents, and again, I think they'll be in a work environment which will make that more possible for them than it was for us.
I asked all of them—these are co-ed graduation classes—"How many of you want to have a career in five years?" Everybody's hand goes up. "How many of you expect to be married in five years?" Most of the hands go up. "How many of you expect to be staying home married and taking care of children?" Maybe one or two hands would go up. I'd say, "Okay, how many of you want to be married, have a career, and have children?" And again, the majority of the hands go up. So they want the same things. They want it all, too, but I think they have a better perspective on it, because they were the latch-key kids, and they are the children of divorce, 40 percent of them are children of divorce. I think that they are going to make better families and better parents and spend more time and not kill themselves working the way we superwomen did of the sixties, seventies, and eighties.
Moorhus: Have you had an opportunity, or made an opportunity, to talk about the stress, not so much by revealing your medical situation, but about the issues of stress with your colleagues?
Simpson: Yes, a lot of them. As I say, management, all they know is that I am being treated for stress. My therapist was saying, "Get your two days off," because I would end up working six days a week routinely. I'm supposed to be off Friday and Saturday, and work Sunday through Thursday, but routinely on Fridays I'm here doing something. And my therapist said, "Tell them, and make sure you get your two days off." So ABC has been accommodating with that with me
and has not layered on work. As I say, I'm one of the people that they would call on when they need all kinds of stuff to be done, because I'm a utility outfielder. They can use me in a variety of ways. So they have been quite nice about making sure, "Carole, you didn't take Friday off. Are you okay? Do you want a day off next week?" So management is concerned about that and has been good about trying to see that I get the time off and not working me to death.
My friends know that I have been going through therapy, and all my friends, I tell them, "Be careful. Don't let happen to you what happened to me. You've got to spend more time taking care of yourself, eating right." And, you know, I could always make excuses for it. "Well, I have to get a hamburger because we're on the road and we didn't have time to stop," and now I carry stuff. I'll carry apples and things like that, because now I'm starting to think about me and my health and my well-being and my exercise. I go in and I exercise in the hotel room on the floor. I've got one of those stretchy ropes, and I'll do my bicep curls in the hotel room if they don't have an exercise room, and things like that.
I do share with friends that you've got to take care of yourself. Or if I see signs of stress with friends, female correspondents that I work with, and we're all doing the same dance, we're all juggling these children and jobs and house and all these kinds of things, I kind of pull them aside and say, "Think about yourself, and then take a couple days off." And I'll share with them my own—because everybody knew that I had the vertigo problem, because I did turn in medical bills for that, and they thought it was Meniere's disease, that thing in the ear. So people knew that I was going through something for a while, and then I stopped flying for a while, because they thought it was the ear thing. So they knew that I had been going through a period of time of not really feeling very well. They know.
Someday I probably will be quite happy to discuss this publicly, because, as I say, I don't want to see women end up where I was. For a year and a half I felt terrible and did not know what was wrong. Everybody says you're fine, your blood pressure's fine, your heart is fine, your brain is fine, this is fine, and you feel so bad. But more attention must be paid to stress in our society. Everything we do is stressful. When I get in my car at night to go home, you know, I'm thinking, I've got my doors locked, and I still look over my shoulder. I worry about crime, and I worry about what's going to happen to my thirteen-year-old black male.
My husband and I are just, "If we can just get him to eighteen." He walks out and he's wearing baggy pants like every gang hoodlum member. His white friends can wear it at school and he doesn't see why he can't wear it, and doesn't realize that as a young black male—they don't know he's Carole Simpson's son and that he goes to private school and that he's had European vacations. He's just another black boy that may be threatening to someone.
So life is filled with worries, but the exercise and taking time to smell the flowers, to take time and enjoy this wonderful vacation we're going to have—and we're doing it up first class, we're going first class, and we're staying in the finest resorts. It's like, of course I'm not going to feel guilty about that. I used to feel guilty about that. People are starving. Why am I going first class and staying in a luxury hotel? But I've gotten over that now. If I can afford this, I'm doing this for me. I have to do this for me, and that's not being selfish, because I wasn't selfish enough all through my life.
Moorhus: It's a problem women have always had, right? "What do we deserve?"
Moorhus: Well, I'm glad I asked. Tell me about—
Simpson: Anybody ever tell you anything like this?
Simpson: Yeah? We're all suffering stress?
Moorhus: I think it's not uncommon.
Simpson: We're all suffering stress!
Moorhus: It's a part of our generation, I think.
Simpson: It is. That's what I'm saying, I wanted to get that message to—
Moorhus: But you're very frank and open about it, and I think that's extremely useful. Extremely useful.
Tell me about moderating a presidential debate.
Simpson: Oh, God. It's twenty-five to six.
Moorhus: You don't want to talk about this again? You didn't want to talk about it the last time, either.
Simpson: The presidential debate. All my life—well, since I've been in Washington covering politics—
Moorhus: Let me turn over the tape.
[End Tape 1, Side A; Begin Tape 1, Side B]
Moorhus: Tell me about the presidential debate.
Simpson: As long as I've been in Washington and covering politics in this city, I always wanted to be a panelist on one of the presidential debates. It's like the dream of every correspondent, right? Because all the networks carry you and people get to see you, and there's some prestige associated with being selected as one of the panelists on these presidential debates. So I had always wanted to do something like that. I heard that in 1988 I had been on a list of possible correspondents. What the campaigns do is put together lists of people that would be acceptable to them. In '88 I was not asked. I was kind of disappointed after I had heard that I was on the list, and so I didn't think about more about it. Since then I've been covering the [American] Agenda and not politics, so I didn't even think that anyone would think of me for '92, because I wasn't covering politics anymore.
We had this situation in the '92 elections where CBS and NBC decided to boycott the presidential debates. They were not going to allow any of their correspondents to participate, because they felt it was unfair for the campaigns, the presidential candidates, to pick the people that asked them questions, so they were trying to make a big point. What they wanted was to have debates and Peter Jennings would do one, Tom Brokaw would do the other, Dan Rather would do
the other—have the three major anchorpeople do it. They were holding out for that. "We should have our best and top people do these debates," and things like that. After the campaigns, they were saying, "No, we'll still decide and agree on the people that will be panelists on the debates."
They pulled out. So that left the pool of people for the campaigns to pick from: ABC, CNN, and PBS. Now, ABC decided not to boycott because their position was, they pick everything anyhow. The presidential candidates decide whether they're going to do an interview with Bernie Shaw or whether they're going to do the CBS "This Morning." They always pick and choose who they're going to do private interviews with. This was no different than the way we've always had to operate. So we were all given a notice from management that if we were to be contacted, any of us were to be contacted, that we were to call management.
Moorhus: Was "management" personified by Roone Arledge?
Simpson: Yes. Top management, yes, of ABC News.
Moorhus: So it went right to the top of ABC News.
Simpson: Right. That any of us—as I said, it was a memo to all the correspondents saying, if you're contacted by the campaigns—because at that time, I guess ABC wasn't sure whether they were going to join the boycott. The networks were trying to present a united front and so on. So I, again, dismissed it. They're not going to be calling me, right? I'm covering child abuse and the city's teen pregnancy and stuff like that.
I was doing a story in October of '92. I was interviewing Ralph Neas, who is executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. We had been doing campaign agendas in which we would measure all three of the candidates, George Bush, Ross Perot, and Bill Clinton, on various issues, and I had the domestic issues. I had housing. There was the economy, there was the environment, there was crime, but I had the family issues and children and the cities and racism and women, and those were the issues that I was doing reports on, analyzing. I was, in effect, covering some of the issues of the campaign, and I was there interviewing Ralph Neas about George Bush's and Clinton's and Perot's position on civil rights and what would likely happen if they became president, what is their record, who was going to be the best on these issues. When I got to the interview, the crew was set up, and Ralph came out, and he said, "Carole, Frank Fahrenkopf just called you and wants you to call him immediately."
I knew immediately that he was the co-chair of the Bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, and the first panel of people had been picked for the first presidential debate; it was all in the news. I'm like, "Fahrenkopf's calling me?" And I'm like, "Be still, my beating heart. Maybe I'm going to be asked to be on one of the panels."
So I called him back. I know him, I had covered him when he was head of the Republican Party. I said, "Frank? It's Carole Simpson."
He said, "Carole, I'm glad you called me back. I wanted to let you know that we want you to moderate the second presidential debate. It's on October 15 in Richmond, Virginia."
And I said, "Moderate?"
And he said, "Yes, it's going to be a single moderator. We're going to have a town hall format. It's never been tried before, and you will be the sole moderator, and you will have a lot of latitude." He said, "I want you to call Janet Brown of the commission and find out about it."
This is Friday, now, before the Thursday of the debate. I'm called on this Friday. The first debate was going to be Sunday, the second one was going to be Tuesday with the vice presidential candidates, my debate on Thursday, and the final debate on Sunday. So within a week, all of the debates were going to be handled. They were going to be in the space of one week.
I'm like, a single moderator? I'm like, "Oh, my God!" And I said, "You're not talking about a panel?"
He said, "No, you're going to be it, and you're going to have wide latitude as the moderator of this debate. We're trying something brand new, but we're going to have this audience of regular citizens ask the candidates questions, and your job will be to make sure that those people's questions are answered."
I'm like, "Holy cow." I said, "Well, I think I have to check with management first before I can give you an okay."
And he said, "I'm sure they're going to say okay, but go ahead."
So I called Dick Wald, who is one of our senior vice presidents, and I said, "Look, they called me about this debate. Can I do it?"
And they said, "Do you want to do it?"
And I said, "Yeah! Yeah, I want to do it."
And I hear, "Do you think you can do it?"
And I said, "Of course I can do it."
"Well, it's never been done before."
I said, "Of course I can do it."
And they said, "Well, if you want to do it, yes, tell them okay."
That kind of stopped me for a second. I'm like, "Do they think I can't handle this debate?"
So I called Frank back, and I said, "Okay, I can do it."
He said, "Terrific. Call Janet. She'll give you the guidelines that's been worked out by the candidates. We're delighted that you're going to do it. We think you're going to be great."
I have to now interview Ralph Neas about civil rights. I'm like bouncing out of my chair, scared to death. This is so important, and remember, this election was such an important election and people were so focused on what was happening during this campaign, and the fact that I would be asked to moderate this new format with the people and stuff like that was very exciting. They said, "It'll be like an Oprah [Winfrey] show. We don't want you like Oprah, but you will
have this audience, and your job is to have those people up there and get them to answer the questions."
So I was so excited about it, but scared at the same time, like, "Oh, my God." And I said, "But I can do this. I know them." I had interviewed Perot, I traveled with George Bush, I had interviewed Bill Clinton. I knew them. I knew the issues. I enjoy people, so I wasn't afraid of having to deal with the town hall format. I'm convincing myself. "I do live TV every week. It's not a big deal to go on. I can ad lib. I covered the war and all that kind of stuff. Of course I can do it." So, I'm like, "Okay."
So that weekend, I began with my research. You think the candidates had briefing books? You should have seen my briefing books. Our research department in New York and here gathered me everything—position papers on everything. Their recent campaign events. I even wanted to know about the demographics of Richmond and what the local issues were that these people might be concerned about, the voting patterns down there, everything. Read like a crazy person all weekend long, and watched the debate on Sunday night. That was the old debate, old panel format with a moderator, three questioners, "You have a minute to respond, you have two minutes for rebuttal," and it was the very formal, old, stodgy way that debates were done. I took note of issues that were covered during that debate, and to make note of things that probably should be covered in mine if they weren't covered in that first debate.
On Monday morning, stuff starts happening. The fax machine is going like crazy. It's been announced that I'm going to be the moderator. I get hundreds of phone calls, faxes, letters from people asking me to, "Ask this question." Everybody had advice, everybody had a question they wanted to ask, everybody had an ax to grind. "Why can't the Libertarian candidate be—" I mean, stuff is just happening. My phone is ringing like crazy and the faxes are coming in, and mail and telegrams, and all this stuff coming in, and I'm like, "Oh, my God, what is going on?"
Then I start getting these subtle feelings that management doesn't think I can do this debate. It starts with people telling me, "I heard them say they hope everything works out okay." This, Donita, was one of the most angry I have ever been in my career, that after thirty years of broadcasting, of sitting on these people's air every week for the last six years doing the news, of having interviewed everybody, of traveling around the world, of being highly recognized in my profession and by the public-at-large as a serious, professional, good journalist, the fact that they had questions or doubts about whether I'd be able to pull this off just made me crazy. This, again, is what I say about people telling me no, or people suggesting that I'm not able to do things that I know I'm able to do. It just makes me mad and determined to show them this is going to be the best debate they've ever seen.
Then I start getting pressure from women, going, "You know, you're the first woman to ever moderate a debate. You'd better be good. You're representing all women." Then I get all the black people calling me, "You're the first minority who's ever moderated a presidential debate. You're representing all of us." I'm getting all this pressure from outside forces. I mean, people are not helping me. It's like, people were trying to be, "What are you going to wear?" Then I'm hearing all this stuff, "What are you going to wear? How are you going to act?" People are suggesting, "Be funny." "Be serious." "Be professional." "Be provocative." "Be confrontational." "Be congenial." Everybody was telling me how I should be during this debate, how I should handle it. Then they're telling me what I should wear. "What are you going to wear?" "You should have on a dark suit." "No, you should have on a bright suit." "Don't wear any dangles." Everybody's giving me advice.
For the next three days, for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, I was like a crazy woman, because I'm being bombarded with advice, with "Do this," "Don't do this," "You ought to do this," and finally I just had to shut it all out, shut everybody out and do what I felt like I had to do.
The guidelines for the debate were very—I had wide latitude, as Frank Fahrenkopf said. They faxed me seven pages of what would govern the ground rules of my debate. These are the ground rules that were agreed to by the three camps, the three presidential campaign camps. They wanted someone who had broad experience in live television to be the moderator. I fit that bill. They wanted the person who would moderate to make sure that nobody dominated the debate. My job was to be referee and to make sure that everybody got equal shot and equal time at answering the questions. I was to prevent any speeches by people in the audience, "Get on with your question." Don't let anybody hog the floor. I was to make sure that we were covering domestic issues and foreign issues. I was to allow each of them to make a two-minute closing statement. That was the only restriction on the time, and they told me, "The other eighty-one minutes, Carole, are up to you." There will be a minute to open and introduce, and the moderator's job will be to follow up with questions, to clarify questions, to make sure that the candidates answer the question that an audience participant has posed, so this means listening very carefully, everything, watching the time, a lot of things to think about for this.
Now, this is something that's going to be broadcast not only on all three networks, but Fox decided to take the debates, PBS was doing it, CNN was broadcasting it worldwide. I went to Europe. People recognized me from the presidential debates, and it's incredible. People that never knew me or heard of me before, after that presidential debate knew who I was. It clearly was the crowning achievement of my career in terms of visibility and prominence.
So we drive on Thursday morning to—
Moorhus: Before you got to Thursday morning, did you have a conversation directly with Roone Arledge about this?
Simpson: No. He didn't call me, I didn't call him. I called some of the producers that I know and I like, and say, "How do you think I should handle this?" And nobody had any clue, because there was no history for it. I mean, there weren't any tapes we could go back and look at, so nobody really had much of an idea, so that's why I ended up saying, I'm going to go with my instincts.
Moorhus: Did any of your colleagues offer strong support? "You can do it. We know you can do it. This is terrific."
Simpson: Yes. Yes, friends, yes. Yes. Absolutely.
Moorhus: Do you think the people that were sort of hinting that maybe you were going to have some trouble, do you think there was any sense of jealousy or competition in there?
Simpson: No, because it was from management. I'm not in competition with those people. I think it's racism and sexism rearing its ugly head yet again. After thirty years of broadcasting, it's still, "You're not quite as good." Because I'm sure, had ABC been called by the campaigns and said, "Give us one of your anchors," I would have been the last person they would have chosen, I believe.
Moorhus: Well, maybe not last.
Simpson: They may argue. I would be among the last. It would be Peter [Jennings] or Ted Koppel or Diane Sawyer or David Brinkley, Barbara Walters. There would be a lot of people before they got to me.
Moorhus: You wouldn't have been first in line.
Simpson: Yes. And so, you see, I probably wouldn't have even gotten that opportunity had CBS and NBC not dropped out. It's real interesting. Things happen for a reason, don't they? Sometimes things just happen and it's all kind of preordained.
Moorhus: Did you ever get any sense of who had put your name forth?
Simpson: I was agreed upon by both—I think they worked off the list they had from '88 and continued, and I think there had been criticism of the first panel, that there were no minorities. There was a woman. Who was it? Ann Compton, a colleague. Ann Compton was on the first panel. But I know there was criticism that there were no minorities on that first panel, so I think I gave them an opportunity to get a woman moderating and show that this is 1992 and we're not afraid to put up, in a prominent role, a black female, but a black female with substantial experience in this. But as I say, had CBS and NBC not dropped out, I'm not sure I would have been in that position. And as I say, had ABC been asked to provide someone, I don't think I would have gotten it.
So it clearly was the Bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, and it gave them an opportunity, as I say, to put a minority female in that very pivotal role of running that debate, and a toughie, because it was uncharted waters. It had not been done. They weren't sure how it was going to work. They didn't know it might be a disaster.
So I get prepared. I'm ready for everything. I did back-up questions on every issue. I had my own cards. One of my fears was that ordinary citizens might freeze in the presence of the President of the United States and these other people, so I wanted to be ready, that I could pick it up and go with it. And as I say, I knew them inside out. I studied everything, every position paper, every flip-flop they had done, everything.
So we go down there [to Richmond, Virginia], and we drive. I've got my make-up man with me, I've got a researcher that had been working with me on the questions, they sent down Rick Kaplan, who was executive producer of "PrimeTime Live" at the time. Again, I was upset that they felt they had to send him down with me. They called me, and they said, "We're going to have Rick Kaplan go down there and be with you."
And I said, "I don't want him down there. First of all, he's a friend of Bill Clinton's. I don't think we should be associated with looking—" I didn't want to have any contact with the campaigns. The campaigns were trying to call me and tell me stuff. I didn't want to talk. Nobody was going to talk to me, so that I would not be accused of playing any favoritism or anything, and I didn't think it would be a good idea to have Rick Kaplan there as my producer and my hand-holder, who was a good friend of Bill Clinton's, but they said, "No, Rick can go there and make sure that you're taken care of. Nobody's there to take care of you. Everybody's got people to take care of the presidential candidates. We want people to make sure that you're comfortable, that you've got everything you need, and that your lighting is right."
So I, again, was scared that they were thinking I couldn't handle it and I would need this producer, because he would be of no value to me once we're on the air live. There were no
breaks, no commercial breaks. That train was going to leave the station and just keep going, so there would be no way he could help me in the middle of this event, because there would be no opportunity. He's not the producer. Ed Fouhy was the producer of the broadcast for the Bipartisan Commission. That's who was talking in my ear.
But anyhow, they said they were going to send him [Kaplan] along, and so he met us down there, and he was helpful in that when we went in to look at the set, he said, "Carole, you need a place. What are you going to do?" And the idea was that I would roam. I had a wireless microphone. I'd be able to walk all around the audience and stuff like that. He said, "But you're going to need like a home base. We need a music stand for you." And that was good, because I could leave my cards on there, and it could be a little place that I could come back to. And I wouldn't have thought of that, so I was glad that he ended up there and had that. So I had this music stand, and I could lay my cards out, and I could walk back and forth to it and refer to my notes and things like that. So he did that for me, for which I'm grateful.
But we get down there, all the local crews were there, everybody was trying to interview me before I went in, "What are you going to ask? What do you think the prospects are?" And I'm like, again, I'm not talking to anybody. I got newspaper reporters calling me wanting interviews ahead of time, again because a lot of attention was focused on it because it would be the people's town meeting. And again I wanted to make sure that I was absolutely above board and had no influences and wasn't talking to anyone.
We get there, and now I'm really nervous. I go into that set, and it was quite impressive. It was the gymnasium at the University of Richmond that had been turned into a studio, and there were ten cameras. I'd never been part of an event with that many cameras. It was beautiful, the bright red carpeting and the setting and the eagle. It just kind of like a view of the Capitol or something, it just kind of takes your breath away, and you go, "Oh, my God, this is really going to happen." Here are these three stools there, and I'm like, "Oh, dear." And I started getting really, really nervous, and again, I would—here is Carole coping with herself, but talk to myself. This was before my therapy. But I talked to myself, "You can do it. Just go with what you feel like. Your instincts are right about things. Just don't worry. You'll do the best you can. That's all you can do. Stop worrying." And I was able to calm myself down and just, "I'm going to do it."
We arrived at three o'clock for us to look at all of this stuff. At 6:30, they wanted me to go out. The debate was going to start at nine o'clock that night. Six-thirty, they wanted me to go out, and I wanted to see the audience. I wanted to warm them up. I wanted them to know me. I wanted to get a sense of them. So they said, "Good. We want to check the camera angles and everything, so at 6:30 we'll place the audience in their places, and you can go out and talk to them and do whatever you want with them, and we'll check the sound and the lights and all that stuff."
So I go out there, and they're sitting in their chairs, and as soon as I walked out, they applauded. They knew who I was! [Laughter] I came out in my flat shoes. I wasn't dressed for the debate because it was several hours before. So I said, "Hi, everybody," and they were all, "Hi, Carole." They were very friendly. And I said, "I wanted to come out and talk to you, because I'm scared to death," and they're like, "So are we." Everybody was, "Yeah, we're scared, too." I said, "You know, this is pretty exciting that we're going to share a history-making event. It's never been done before." I said, "I want to tell you about myself, those of you who don't know who I am," and I told them who I was, how long I'd been broadcasting, how I had traveled with George Bush, how I'd interviewed Clinton and Perot, and my job was to make sure that your questions are answered. I said, "Tell me about yourselves. Who are you all?"
And I was surprised, because there were only five black faces in the audience. This was an audience of 209 people, and in a city like Richmond, which was 55 percent black, I was surprised, and then I remembered these were uncommitted voters. Most blacks at that time had already committed, so it was difficult to find minorities that weren't committed at that point.
I said, "What are your jobs?" So they just started shouting out, and I'm being my most bubbly, down-to-earth Carole, because I really wanted to relax them and them feel comfortable with me. There was a housewife, there was a banker, there was a doctor, there was a student, there was a nurse. They were the gamut of occupations and stuff like that. And I said, "Well, this is great. Okay, now what do you all want to know?"
And they said, "Well, here's my question."
I said, "Look, I don't want to know your questions." I said, "First of all, if you've written them out, that's going to be really boring, so don't be reading from your questions. That really looks bad on TV. Try to keep it short, because I'm going to cut you off if you start going too long." I'm talking to them like that, like a school marm. And I said, "But try to memorize what you basically want to say. You don't want a long, drawn out—" They all had these long paragraphs, typewritten paragraphs, on their little index cards that they were planning to read, and I said, "Don't do that, okay? I just want to know the subjects that you're interested in, okay?"
So they start yelling out—health care, crime, education, gun control, abortion, trade deficit, the break-up of the Soviet Union, poverty, all domestic issues. Except for the trade deficit and the Soviet Union, they were domestic issues. The economy, the budget deficit. All the gamut of domestic issues. They're just shouting it out.
So I said, "Isn't anybody interested in Iran contra?"
And people started, "No!"
I said, "What about Iraq-gate?"
"No!" They get louder and louder.
I said, "What about the Jennifers, with a J and a G?"
And they're all laughing, "No! No!"
And somebody stood up and said, "That's you all. That's what the media cares about. We don't care about that. We want to know if we're going to have jobs. We want to know if we're going to have health care and stuff like that."
And I said, "You really are not interested in the draft?" And they were just vehement. [Tape interruption.]
Where was I?
Moorhus: You were talking to the audience about what they were not interested in.
Simpson: Yes. Right. It was with such vehemence that they were blasting the news media, "That's all you all are interested in all of that stuff. We're not interested in that. We want to know what these guys are going to do to make America better and ensure our futures and stuff."
I said, "Well, that's pretty interesting." So I tucked that in the back of my mind, because, if you'll recall, on Tuesday, at the vice presidential debate, [Dan] Quayle lit into [Albert] Gore on the question of Clinton's character, trust, the draft. He was hammering away on that, and the game plan for the Bush campaign was to let Quayle make that opening, and Bush was going to come back in that second debate, and that was going to be his strategy, to nail the character issue and hit him on "trust," which is code for "philanderer" and all these other kinds of things, "draft-dodger."
Of course, I was reading all this stuff. I knew what their game plans were, what the candidates were going to do, plus all of our political people were counseling me on what was likely to happen. Hal Bruno, who is our political director, I had a lot of support from them on what was likely to be, what each guy would be trying to do that night. So I knew going in that that's what Bush was going to do.
I said, "Well, this is going to be really exciting, and I want you all to be loose. We're going to have fun. This is going to be great. We're making history, and we're going to do it together. We're in this together, pals, buddies."
And then one guy said, "Miss Simpson?"
And I said, "Yes?"
He said, "Are you planning to wear those shoes?" [Laughter.] And everybody just cracked up, and I knew that we had the rapport that I thought I needed with them, that they were relaxed and that they felt they could talk to me like that.
I said, "No, I've got some very fancy high-heeled shoes I will be putting on." So we laughed.
Now, this was open. Everybody could see this. People are setting up, all the anchor booths were above that arena, the campaign people were watching what I was doing. Nothing I was doing was like surreptitious or secretive. It was all wide open. Anyone who—you'll see why that's important later—this was all wide open. They're checking cameras and lights. Everybody can see what we're doing and what we're talking about.
So we leave. They're going to give them some pizza and some drinks, I've got a chance to relax, and they're bringing the candidates in. They were going to seat the audience at twenty to nine, and I would walk in at five minutes to nine, and we would hit air—oh, the other thing was there was a big flap over how they were going to enter, so they decided rather than have one get precedence over the other, they would enter from three entrances, each of the candidates, so they would each come out at the same time and take their places, and they would do that before we went on the air. But for the audience, even there in the arena, they'd come out equally at this thing.
So I'm loose, I'm ready, I'm ready to go. I feel good about the audience. I feel it's going to be great and it's going to be good, and I get out there at five minutes to nine, and the people are sitting like this: they are like frozen. I looked. I said, "What happened to you all?"
What had happened was Pamela Harriman, Frank Fahrenkopf, Paul Kirk from the DNC [Democratic National Convention], all of these people had come out to tell them how important this was, and this was history-making, and they got scared again. They were all clutched and frightened again, and I'm going, "Listen you guys, loosen up now." I could tell they were just rigid, terrified, and I said, "Come on, now, we're going to do this, and we're going to have a good time. Now, you promised. You promised, you promised. I need you. I need you relaxed. I need you."
So I do that, and then like two minutes to nine, I'm getting these countdowns, and—I mean, the excitement, you could just feel it. It was palpable. Everybody was nervous. That audience was nervous, I was nervous, and the candidates were nervous.
They come in. All three of them take their seats. No applause or anything for any of them. They're sitting on these stools, and then I get the cue, I'm getting countdown, ten—"Live from the University of Richmond, the second presidential debate," and then I was to begin, which I had memorized. There was no teleprompter or anything like that. I said, "Good evening. I'm Carole Simpson, and I'd like to welcome you to the second presidential debate sponsored by the Bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates. The candidates are—" They had given me that I was to just introduce them as President George Bush, Mr. Ross Perot, Governor Bill Clinton." And I said, "The format—" I explained what the format [was].
When I look at the tape now, as I say, before I went on, my heart was going like crazy and I could hear on the tape later my voice crack, and I knew I was a little nervous, but once I got the first words out of my mouth, I was fine. Once I got started—and I've always been that way. There's that period of anxiety before something happens, but once the lights and camera are on, I'm quite at home and quite comfortable.
So I explained the format and explained to the audience who these people were, and, "Now we will begin with the questions." I had thought I would be able to call on people. That's what the guidelines had said. But Ed Fouhy is in my ear, and he says, "Let's take the first question from the man right there," and so I called on a gentleman that was in the first row, and he asked a question about the deficit, I think it was about the budget deficit, and they answered it. And then, I hear, "Go to the lady in the top." What the producer of the show was doing was trying to balance it geographically, get the cameras ready to take that person ahead of time. If I were to just to randomly [take questions], they wouldn't have a head-on shot, so it would look like sloppy—so he ended up picking all the people. They thought I picked the people that were to speak, but I was being directed who to call on next, and not because of the questions they had. I mean, the producer didn't know, and I didn't know, what questions they were going to have.
Moorhus: But it was to make it possible for the cameras to be in position?
Simpson: To be in position, right, so that it would be a head-on shot, not somebody hunting around for, "Where is Carole going next?" if I were like all over the place. So I ended up not being able to pick the questioners. That was dictated to me for technical reasons only, not political reasons. Technical reasons only.
Second question is about—I forget what it was about—but let's say health care—and Bush starts answering the question, and gives a little bit on health care or whatever the issue is, and I'm not sure exactly what it was, and then says, "That's why character and trust are so important, and Governor Clinton went to England and he demonstrated against the United States of America." He had just taken that health care question, and I thought I was purely within my rights, given the
guidelines of what they had set down as to my role, I thought it was entirely appropriate, at that point—I let him finish his answer—but I said, "Mr. President, I think you should know that I talked to the audience beforehand, and I got the impression that they were interested not in personal matters involving the candidates, but were more interested in matters that affect them and affect the country." And I said, "Is there somebody here that would like to express the point of view you expressed to me to the candidates?"
And that's when the man with the ponytail, Denton Wall, got up, and he said, "We're tired of the mud-slinging, we're tired of the negative campaigning. We don't want to hear about the draft. We don't want to hear about this. We want to know what you're going to do for this country." And I watched George Bush, because I know him quite well, and like him, I'm quite fond of him, and it was as if someone stuck a pin in him. You could just see all the wind go out of his sails, and because he's such a gentleman, even though that was his game plan, if somebody got up there and said, "We don't want to hear this," he would not go ahead and do that. He would not risk doing something like that. So he was knocked off his game from that point on, I could tell. It just went right out of him.
This is why the Republicans now accuse me of throwing the debate and giving it to Clinton. I was roundly—and I'll tell you about that later—of having manipulated that debate to my own ends, to make Clinton look good and to make Bush look bad, which was a lie. Which was a lie. As I said, my guidelines say, "This is the people's town meeting. Get these guys to answer their questions." So that's why I did it.
Then the debate goes on and on and on and on, and it's amazing how quickly the ninety minutes passed. It seemed like it was going to be forever, but it actually went quite fast. Perot—I was accused of being rude to Ross Perot. He wouldn't stop. I was being given—the producer again was watching the time, and he was saying, "Cut him off. He's gone too long," when it was time to move to the next person, and I would try to give them little sign language. I would do this [demonstrates], and both George Bush and Bill Clinton would follow my signals and wrap up their answers, and Perot would just keep barreling, so I found myself constantly in the position of having to interrupt him and say, "I'm sorry, Mr. Perot, we have to go on." People thought I was very rude to him, but I wasn't. Again, my job was to not let him dominate, which he was trying to do, as he so well is capable of doing.
Then we get to what turned out to be, according to many political analysts, the question that turned the tide in the election. It's been researched at every major university in America, and I've been a part of seminars and panels, but their research shows that when the young black woman, Marisa Hall, got up and asked how the budget deficit had personally affected each of the candidates, and George Bush started to answer the question. Her question was not framed right. She meant the recession, she meant the bad economy, but she said the budget deficit, but I knew what she meant, and Bush said, "I don't get it. What are you talking about?"
And I interjected again, in my role as moderator, to help clarify the question, "Mr. President, I think she's talking about the bad economy. I think she's talking about the recession."
And she went on to say, "Yes, my friends have lost their cars. Their cars have been repossessed and they can't get a mortgage and they can't get loans, and it's really tough. Are you feeling it like we're feeling it?"
And I'm thinking to myself, "George, you could hit it out of the park. You can hit it out of the park." And he starts fumbling around, still not understanding what she's talking about,
and starts talking about his grandchildren and then about pregnant teenagers in some program for pregnant teenagers in a black church somewhere, and it's like, "What the hell is he talking about?" And apparently that moment crystallized, in many voter's minds, "He doesn't get it. He doesn't get it."
And then Clinton, as you'll recall, walked within arm's length of this young woman, with his "I feel your pain. I don't personally have problems, but of course I know that you're having these problems." But George Bush just blew it right then and there.
Okay. So the debate finishes. I'm thinking it's gone really well, and the audience seemed to be glad with the way it went, and they came up to me to tell me what a great job I'd done, and even George Bush shook my hand and told me it was great, and then I had to rush up and be interviewed by Peter Jennings on our special about what it was like and what it felt like, so I had to do a quick interview, and then I had to do several other interviews.
Well, what I didn't know was after the debate was over, the spin doctors were at work. You know how the political operatives go around and try to tell the press how the debate "really" went.
Moorhus: Interpret it for them.
Simpson: Yes. And the Republicans, unbeknownst to me, were lambasting me for having favored Clinton by planting questions, by refusing to let people ask questions about the draft, of manipulating the debate to my own ends, and I became this bad person. I didn't realize until the next day, when the reporters were saying, "Hey, Mary Matalin, and they were trashing you." They had to explain George Bush's poor performance, because it was poor. He came back in the third debate and did much, much better, but it was a poor performance. He kept looking at his watch. I didn't realize that until I watched the tape. People kept saying, "Why did he keep looking at his watch?" And I noticed that at three times, the camera caught him looking at his watch. Like, where does he have to go? And I'm sure he was doing the same thing I was doing, and that's just checking how much time we have left, but on TV it looked like, "I want to be out of here. I can't take much more of this."
So I felt pretty good after the debate. I looked at the tape the next day and thought I grinned too much, and maybe I was a little too cheery. I was also accused of being rude to the president when there was a question about education, and I said, "Well, let's ask the 'education president.'" People heard me ask it as if I said it with a sneer. "Well, Mr. Education President, what do you have to say about it?" I looked at the tape. I didn't intend it that way. I had just traveled with George Bush for so long where he kept saying, "I want to be the 'education president,'" but they took it as a slam. It was suggested that I was slamming him, and as I say, I didn't intend that at all.
Another thing I was criticized for was that I had said, "Yes, you probably have an answer, Mr. Perot. You have an answer for everything." And again, I was just trying to be loose. I wasn't trying to be disrespectful, but maybe I shouldn't have said something like that.
But most of the reviews and the editorials, I got rave reviews for the way I handled the debate, and the debate format got rave reviews. People really liked it. What a refreshing idea, to let people who are really affected by it—and I think that it will now be part of all future presidential elections. I think you're still going to need the reporters that know that "You said this last week, but a year ago you said da, da, da." You need people with that background.
You're going to need the press, but how wonderful to have the people ask their own questions of the candidates—participatory democracy. I thought it was great.
My colleagues were talking about how inane the questions were, how innocuous the questions were, and I had to slap them down. Again, when I appeared on many post-election panels, for them to say that, these are the people—who are you to set yourself up and say these questions are inane, or are not the ones that should have been asked? This is what these people wanted to know, and clearly it resonated with the audience at—
[End Tape 1, Side B; Begin Tape 2, Side A]
Simpson: So I had a lot of arguments with colleagues that this election is about the American people and the American voters. Who are we to say their questions aren't valid or aren't good? It's their questions. They're the ones that have to vote. I became such an advocate of the people, and I saw the snobbery of my profession after that debate. It really made me think about how we do seem to set ourselves above, and let's really get back to what it's all about, and it's about the American people deciding who they want to lead them, not the press or whatever.
I never would have thought Bill Clinton would end up in the White House. If you had asked me, after all the Genifer Flowers stuff and the draft and the marijuana—but clearly, to the American people, it wasn't important. Our job is to bring those to your attention, but then it's up to them to decide whether that's enough to make you want to vote for him or not vote for him.
Moorhus: Did you get a response from ABC management?
Simpson: Yes. Yes. They all loved it. Diane Sawyer called. They were quite proud, I guess, that I didn't embarrass ABC News. Roone Arledge called and said I did a fine job, and everybody was calling. But I don't know if they were holding their breaths throughout that ninety minutes so that Carole doesn't make a fool of herself or something. But, no, they were very congratulatory. This room was filled with flowers, flowers from people all over the place, proud of the job I had done, and again, women and minorities, "You did us proud." Women saying, "My thirteen-year-old daughter saw you handle these men that are running for president, and goes, 'Wow, is she great,' and that I was able to be a role model for young women and see, 'Hey, she can hold forth with the guys that want to run the country, and she can take them to task and hold their feet to the fire,' and stuff like that. So that was lovely.
But in the meantime, Rush Limbaugh takes to the airwaves, and he lambasted me. Did the same thing. He had a caller call in, and claimed that they were in the audience, were one of the Richmond audience, and wanted to ask Clinton about the draft, and I refused to let him ask his question, and he got on Rush Limbaugh's show and said that. Then I started getting the worst hate mail. I have it bundled up somewhere. I got hundreds of letters, critical of me. I got many letters, and the vast majority of them were congratulatory and nice fan letters, but I got this huge bunch of really ugly mail. I got death threats.
I had to go to California State University in Fresno, in December, and they got a call in their security office saying, "She'd better not show up on this campus." This was after the election. You know, "She destroyed George Bush, and we don't want her on this campus." They had two security guards follow me, meet me at the airport, shadow me everywhere I went while I was there, because they were taking it seriously. I'd never had a death threat before.
But he [Limbaugh] was spewing out all this stuff about how I had favored Clinton. I mean, Clinton did very well in that debate. He's the one that wanted that format. Gee, I wonder why he wanted that format. Because he knew he'd do well in that format. He's comfortable with people. You could see Perot and George Bush stayed close to their stools, and Clinton would wade right into the people. I mean, he's a people person, and this was the format that he wanted, and of course he was going to shine in that format. But that was nothing I did. He answered the questions the way the people wanted to hear them answered, and George Bush trying to stumbled around a lot of them.
The day after the debate, I got a hand-delivered note from the White House—I don't know if I have it in this drawer, I'm going to get it framed—but I was able to pull it out when I was criticized, from George Bush telling me what a fair and objective job that I had done on the debate. So he didn't think that I was unfair to him, yet his spin doctors had all spun this tale that I had been the one that had made George Bush lose the debate and therefore the election.
So it became a pretty important political event in the history of this country, and certainly in that election year, and I'm proud that I was part of it.
Moorhus: Would you do it again?
Simpson: Sure. I've been asked—I'm like the moderator of the world now. Everybody that's got a town meeting wants me to moderate it. I have done so many town meetings. You wouldn't believe how many town meetings I have done, but now they think of town meeting, serious topics, and think of me, and I've done zillions of them.
Yes, I think it's important. I think it's important to have the people ask their questions, and I love people being able to participate, no matter what the topic is, that they can participate. I did some panels down in Orlando on education, and I'm out there with the audience.
Moorhus: I think probably every future occasion like that, yours will be the standard against which all others are measured.
Simpson: I think so. And the other thing that was so incredible to me is how many people saw the debate. Two days later I was in New York, and I was walking to my hotel, and there were workmen with jackhammers chopping up Columbus Avenue, and I walked down the street, and one of these workers stops the jackhammer, and goes, "There's that debate lady." People started calling me "the debate lady" everywhere.
I went to a homeless shelter in February in Indianapolis. I'm in there doing a story on the homeless and it was very cold. They had a center that would open in the daytime so that they could get them out of the cold, and this very smelly, dirty man comes up to me and he said, "Ain't you the lady that did that presidential debate?"
And I said, "Yes."
And he's calling all the homeless people, saying, "Here's that lady that did the—" The homeless people had watched the debate. I'm like, where did they have television sets that they—they had watched the debate. They knew me.
I was, as I said, in Europe last year. I was in Africa, I was in Zimbabwe, I was in Kenya, and people had seen me doing the presidential debate. That it was widely watched in Italy and France and Britain and all these other countries is just incredible.
Moorhus: In addition to your good management and your being very articulate, I think one of the things that people noticed and remembered was your red suit. Was that your choice?
Simpson: It was my choice. I look best in bright, strong colors. I can't wear beiges and greys. It was a television show, after all, and my two best colors are royal blue and red, that bright cobalt blue, and there was a lot of blue on the set, and I asked Ed Fouhy, "I've got a blue suit, I've got a red suit. What do you think I should wear?"
He said, "Yes, we need to be able to spot you, and you need to be able to jump out so that we can see you wherever you are."
So I wore the red suit. But, of course, half the ladies in the audience had on red suits, because red does do it on TV. It really jumps out. But they were glad for me to be in the red just for, again, technical reasons, that they could spot me very quickly, because the guys are in the dark. If I'd worn a dark suit like the men, and a lot of people were telling me, "You ought to be in a very somber black suit or navy blue suit or something like that." I'm going, "Nuh-uh. That's not me, first of all, plus the guys are going to be in the dark suits."
Moorhus: I think I read somewhere that Roone Arledge told you once that he liked you to wear red.
Simpson: Yes, he likes me in red, and I said, "Well, if you buy me all red clothes, I'll wear red every day for you. Until you supply me with red clothes, I can't." Everybody says it's my best color when I'm on TV.
Moorhus: It's very memorable. That gives us an opportunity to segue into issues of appearance. Have you had suggestions made over the years about what you wear or how you wear it?
Simpson: Oh, yes. They come from the public. I've gotten swatches of clothing, colors that people want to see me in. I've gotten pictures of make-up they'd like to see me look like. I've gotten pictures of hair styles. When you go in people's houses on their television sets, you know, they think they own you, like you're a member of the family and they can tell you anything. I've had them tell me not to wear red nail polish. And you wonder, is anyone listening to anything I have to say? Is all they're doing is watching? And that's what I hear most people say, "I loved what you had on last weekend."
And I'm like, "Did you hear the newscast? What did you think of the stories?"
It's a visual medium, and that's what people are looking at. They're looking at your hair, they're looking at your make-up, they're looking if you look sleepy, they can tell if you had a late night or something like that, "You looked a little puffy last night," or, "Are you sick?" if I've had sinus. They are watching so carefully, and it's like everything is riveted on what you look like.
You do present a package. You do have to present a package coming into people's rooms, homes, and I have always tried to dress in a way that people would be attracted to it but not distracted by it. So there are certain pins that I can't wear. I have a lovely jaguar that's rhinestones and black, and it's like crawling down [my shoulder]. When I go to a cocktail party,
I can wear this beautiful pin, but if I had this jaguar crawling down my neck, people will be—I have lots of unusual pins. I love pins, but they've got to be pretty simple pins or people are riveted there. For a long while, we didn't wear dangly earrings, but now if it's a little tiny movement, okay, but you can't have stuff jiggling around too much here. You can't have a real weird asymmetrical hairdo. You can have a part or something like that. But it's amazing how I've had to learn.
You resent having to worry about stuff like that when you consider yourself a serious journalist, and I have important news to impart to the American people, but what makes people like you is the whole package. It's going to be my voice, it's going to be how I look, it's going to be how I present, it's going to be all of these other intangibles that represent the package, and that's what Roone Arledge has taught us here at ABC. He wants the packaging the best it can be. "Yes, we know you're smart, and we know you can read without stumbling, and we know that you can talk, but let's have that whole package." So the lighting has got to be good. There's great emphasis at ABC, I think more so than at any other network, on the look of the show. The set. They worry about stuff that's behind me, if a cup is way in the background. I'm going, "Nobody sees that cup." Roone Arledge would see that cup and call somebody and say, "What is that cup doing back there?" It's nothing to distract from this package that we're presenting you, okay.
There are colors that I've learned I can't use. I can't wear herringbone because it wiggles. You can't wear polka-dotted things like a black background with a white polka dot. The camera makes it move. It wiggles. It looks like it's walking. You can't wear stripes that are too thin. They start moraying. You get that moray effect. Then you learn what you look best in. People remark when I wear red. Clearly it's a color that I must look good in to most people that are always saying, "Oh, you looked fantastic." I could wear a beige suit, nobody would say a word. So I wear bright colors, and people seem to like bright colors. They all have to be strong, primary colors for me. I can't wear these pastels very much.
You do have to think about that, and I have to think about it because my boss is thinking of it, so it is important. And, yes, they'll tell you if you need to lose weight, and they probably are telling people who have had eye jobs, "You need to take care of those eyes." I'm not saying Roone Arledge has done that, and I don't know that he has done that, but maybe he's gotten somebody else to tell people. But, yes, it's important.
Moorhus: Attention to detail.
Simpson: Attention to detail, yes.
Moorhus: What about greying hair? Is that a concern to you?
Simpson: Well, see, that takes me to my next thing, where I hope we end this, and that is, I have fought racism and sexism all of my life, and I'm now getting to the age where I think ageism is going to start creeping in, and if I fought racism and sexism, you can damn well be sure I'm going to fight ageism. [Tape interruption]
Moorhus: We're talking about ageism. You're going to fight it.
Simpson: Yes, if it becomes an issue with me. There's part of me that, as I say, wants to withdraw, as I told you, as I think about myself and what's important to me, and finding another line of work that will be less stressful, going to a university somewhere or something like that. But then there's that other part of me that says, "You have fought and you've made progress on
many grounds, you've opened the door on a lot of things, and nobody should be tossed aside because of age."
I know I'm a better reporter now than I was ten years ago, twenty years ago. I don't think ten, twenty years ago, I could have done that presidential debate. I have perspective, I have history that I can draw on to put stories in perspective, I have wide experience with all kinds of people. Why should a network throw that aside, toss that aside, for a cheaper, younger, prettier journalist? I mean, we're either going to be serious journalists about this—and Barbara's Walters is still hanging in there, but she was a star, younger, so she's still a star. She was a star young and will remain a star, as David Brinkley is still on the air at seventy-three, and Hugh Downs at seventy-five, and Mike Wallace at seventy-six. So the men seem to be able to hang around a lot longer than the rest of us, and many of the men can be on TV looking a certain way that women would never be allowed to be on TV looking.
I'm not saying anybody should be unattractive. I mean, I do think we have to pay attention to our appearance and do those things that are necessary to continue to present a good appearance, but wrinkles is not one of them, or grey hair is not one of them. You know, if your eyelids start drooping and you can't open your eyes, then maybe you ought to have something done to them, or if your hair starts falling out and you're bald on top as a female, then you might want to think about getting some hairpiece. Again, you don't want anything that's going to detract from what you have to say. You don't want people looking at that saying, "My God, is she bald? She doesn't have any hair up there."
As I say, there's part of me that says that I will stick it out. I'm going to be fifty-five at the end of my next contract. I never thought I'd be here this long, because we were all told at forty we'd be washed up. Now there are a whole bunch of us in our fifties, and I'm anxious to push the envelope and see. I plan to be as good as I can be by taking care of myself, as I said, and continuing to be enthusiastic about the work I do, which I am enthusiastic about.
I don't blame anybody for firing an old fart who gets around and doesn't want to do anything anymore and is lazy and burnt out and doesn't have the energy or the motivation or anything. I still have that. I still enjoy what I do, and think what I do is important. So I will not be tossed aside because someone has decided I look too old or I am too old. Yes, if I'm doddering and I can't read the teleprompter. I mean, you can prove that you're too old to do the job because you just can't physically or intellectually, you have Alzheimer's or something like that, but just because you're getting a little long in the tooth or a little bit older, no. I'm going to fight that. I will fight that.
Moorhus: Are there things that you would still like to do? I mean, things that you have not yet had a chance to do as a journalist that you would like to do?
Simpson: As a journalist?
Simpson: Yes, I guess having my own show that isn't on a weekend, having a prime time magazine show would be really nice, but it's probably not going to happen for whatever reason, but that is something that would appeal to me—the host of, not just the reporter for, but the host of a magazine show.
Moorhus: What about management?
Simpson: I have thought about it, because they never think of people on-air as being management. Rarely does that happen that somebody—but there is no other job that brings us in contact with as much of the network operation as the correspondent. We have to work with the producers, we have to work with the editors, we have to work with the camera crews, we have to work with the desk, we have to work with the desk assistants, we have to work with the audio people, the lighting people. I mean, we know more about all of the operations than anyone else. Producers do producer work, but the correspondent, the person that appears on air and also is a writer and a reporter and covering events and stuff like that, has to come in contact and understand and work with and know the jobs of all these various people, yet they never think of us as managers. People come up through the producer ranks and end up in management.
So I thought about that, and I'm going, "I know how to do this. I know how to do this stuff," but then I think it would be boring. I wouldn't want to be dealing with budgets and vacation schedules and logistics. I still think of myself as a reporter. That's what I love, that's what I do best, that's what I enjoy, and I think I'm a good reporter. But yet if the opportunity presented itself, I would think I might accept it because my input is the kind of input that they probably don't normally get. We now have some female input on matters regarding the network, but we still have no minority input, and we just see things a little bit differently, and are sensitive to certain things, and I think those perspectives are important.
That's why I fight for all minorities to be involved in our news-gathering. I'm not going to be as sensitive to issues regarding the Latino community as another Latino would be, or issues regarding the Native Americans or the Asian community. I don't know what the problems are facing the Asian community. So I think all of our inputs are necessary and should be represented. So, as I say, if the opportunity came up, I might do it just so I'd have that opportunity to present that input, but I really don't think it would be as much fun as what I do now.
Moorhus: In terms of other black women who serve as correspondents, do you view them more as colleagues or as competitors?
Simpson: Oh, colleagues. People have asked me, "Well, Renee Poussaint is there, and now that she's there, they're not calling on you to fill in for Peter Jennings as much as they used to, because Renee's in New York, and you would have to fly up from Washington. Aren't you jealous of Renee?"
No, I'm happy for Renee. I enjoy filling in for Peter Jennings, but certainly this network has room for two black females on the air, or substituting for him. People try to pit you. I will not allow myself to be pitted against my sisters and my brothers, and I use that in a very broad sense, not just black. I won't be pitted against any other woman. I won't be pitted against any other minority.
Moorhus: But the attempt to pit you against someone else, was that going on when you and Michele Clark, for example, were two of the very, very few black women?
Simpson: I don't think so, because it was such a brief period of time, and we were both kind of starting off, and we were both kind of unique at that time. No, I can't recall that. It seems to be more within house, and we were working for separate stations. No, they look at the competition as within this network. "Oh, well, Renee is pushing you aside, and she's got a magazine show, and she's in prime time, and aren't you upset they won't—" No. I'm happy for her. I'm glad for her. I've been fighting to get more black women hired in the network. How could I be upset that they're doing something I've been working very hard for them to do for a long, long time?
Moorhus: Good. Anything that we didn't cover?
Simpson: I don't think you asked me about what moles are on my body.
Simpson: Or what my blood pressure was.
Moorhus: Did you want to talk about your blood pressure? [Laughter.]
Simpson: My blood pressure is fine, thank you very much. [Laughter.]
Moorhus: Are you implying that we've covered just about everything?
Simpson: I think you've done everything.
Simpson: Yes. Marital infidelity, you didn't ask me about that, but I don't have any.
Moorhus: I'm glad. Good. Thanks.
Simpson: Is that it?
Moorhus: I think we're done.
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