Correspondent Erin Moriarty joined CBS News in 1986 and was the consumer correspondent for CBS "This Morning" and the "Evening News." Since 1990, she has been a correspondent for "48 Hours." Trained as a lawyer, Moriarty has covered a number of major legal issues for CBS News. Below Moriarty talks about why she'd like to see more coverage of the Sudan, why she'd like to see less of the "mob mentality" in journalism and shares a story that you likely don't know about the Oklahoma City bombing.
What do you do at CBS News?
I am a CBS News correspondent assigned to the magazine program "48 Hours," but I also report regularly for "Sunday Morning."What single issue should be covered more at CBS News?
I would like to see more coverage of the genocide that continues in the Sudan and the conditions and conflicts that cause it. The current food and supply crisis has gotten little attention. I have tremendous guilt as a reporter when I am allowed to devote an hour to a single murder trial in the U.S. and very little time is spent by network television covering the deaths of thousands outside this country.Give us a great behind the scenes story.
Few people know that after the horrific bombing of the Murrow Building in Oklahoma City, there was a bomb threat called into one of the hospitals caring for people injured in the blast. The entire hospital was evacuated, except the floor with critically injured children. Because moving the children could kill them, hospital officials made a controversial decision: bring in bomb sniffing dogs to see if they could determine whether the threat was real or not. It was a very tense time; after all, 163 people had just been killed hours earlier by a bomb. The doctors and nurses continued caring for the children as the dogs did their work. (We stayed too for what was a very dramatic story).Have you ever been assigned a story you objected to? How did you deal with it?
Except for a few nurses quietly crying, there was no sound. Suddenly, an attractive blonde female doctor in her early forties piped up. "So they were right!" she said. We all turned to look at her and wondered, right about what? With a smile on her face she said, "They said I had a better chance of getting killed by a terrorist than getting married again. I guess they were right." We all paused for a moment and then started to laugh. It was exactly what all of us needed. The mood lightened…and as we all know now, the bomb threat was a false alarm. I have often thought about that brave doctor and hoped she did get married again.
I have never been assigned a story that I objected to, but I have objected to the way it's been suggested that I cover it. In that case, and there have been several, I do the story the way I believe it should be covered. I have never been shy about expressing my opinion and I feel that I have to believe in any piece that has my voice, face and name attached to it. By the same token, I feel completely responsible for my pieces. If there is a mistake, I believe it is completely my responsibility.If you were not in news, what would you be doing?
I would be doing what I did before I started in journalism: practicing law, working as a litigator.Do you read blogs? If so, which ones? If not, what do you read on the Internet?
I love blogs: I read Public Eye (of course!), Couric and Co., Media Bistro, Daily Kos, Buzz Machine, Huffington Post and The Drudge Report (not really a blog) regularly…and I jump around others when a topic covered particularly interests me.What's the last really great book or movie you found?
I am reading "the Interpretation of Murder" by Jed Rubenfeld right now, but absolutely loved "Arthur and George" by Julian Barnes (as anyone with the name "Moriarty" would. You will have to read the book to understand why!)What is your first memory of TV news?
The coverage of the death of President John F. Kennedy and the shooting of Lee Oswald.If you could change one thing about the profession of journalism, what would it be?
The mob mentality: the tendency to over cover less important stories because everyone else is doing it.Who is the most fascinating person you've covered and who is the biggest jerk?
I find nearly everyone I interview fascinating, but the conversations I remember most are the ones I had with the late Senator Paul Simon, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Senator Hillary Clinton and Gloria Steinem. The biggest jerk (and the word "jerk" is too tame in this case) was, hands down, Dennis Rader, better known as the B.T.K. killer in Wichita, Kansas. It was incredibly difficult to speak with the man who killed so many people without an ounce of remorse or regret.Finally, a question just for Erin: You often report for "Sunday Morning" in addition to "48 Hours." Both shows are quite radically different. How does that affect your approach to stories on either broadcast
The two programs differ in terms of subject matter and the time allotted to an issue, but the truth is, a story is a story. I prepare for both shows in a similar manner: doing research before I embark on any story and using similar interviewing skills and techniques. Still, working on "48 Hours" as long and as regularly as I do takes its toll. It's not easy to cover murder trials day in and day out, to interview the victims and perpetrators of vicious crimes. Working on "Sunday Morning" is my therapy. Focusing on the artistic and creative part of life gives me the emotional strength to deal with the darker side.