Karen Sughrue, who produced the Pelosi profile, says her team started working on the story in August, when a Democratic takeover of the House looked less likely than it does now. "Even though every year the Democrats have predicted they'll take the House, and we never believe it, this year we believed it was looking doable," she says.
As the Democrats gained momentum, that hunch looked inspired. But the decision to do the story now left "60 Minutes" open to the charge that it was propping up a political party. "The show was very conscious of not wanting to run this any closer to the election than last Sunday," Sughrue says.
"We knew that we were going to do a profile," she continues. "That meant it wasn't going to be a political debate – there would be no Republican voice in story – and so we wanted to try to put her on the spot on the things she has been criticized for. Our intention from the start was to really press her on Iraq, on the whole civility thing. We felt we needed to show her under fire. She is so very often just up there speaking Democratic platitudes, and we weren't sure we were going to get below that. But I think we did."
Why a profile?
"Nobody knows who she is, so we needed her background and her politics – a little of both," says Sughrue. She noted that she wasn't sure what to expect in the interview, which took place three weeks ago. "[Pelosi] has such a reputation for being a terrible interview, for freezing up," she says. "But she came in there and she was ready to play."