Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Senator Ted Cruz

Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz has announced his candidacy for President of the United States. While critics, including some in his own party, dismiss him, Cruz is a smart, shrewd and brash politician. He is also arrogant, self-confident and power-hungry. Cruz recently told Fox News host Sean Hannity that his critics call him "crazy." Well?

In September 2013, Senator Cruz spoke in opposition of the inclusion of the Affordable Care Act in a continuing resolution to fund the government. His faux-filibuster lasted more than 21 hours, and he opened with, "I rise today in opposition to Obamacare." Then, after being recognized, he said he would speak "until I am no longer able to stand." His effort was not a filibuster because the Senate had already scheduled its cloture vote. But the Cruz show went on, including reading from the Dr. Seuss's classic, Green Eggs and Ham. His daughters watched from home on C-Span as he read from the book, “You do not like green eggs and ham?”

But Cruz was so angry with Republican supporters of the Senate vote he played the appeasement card in his rant from the Senate floor. "If you go to the 1940s, Nazi Germany," Cruz said. "Look, we saw in Britain, Neville Chamberlain, who told the British people, 'Accept the Nazis. Yes, they'll dominate the continent of Europe but that's not our problem. Let's appease them. Why? Because it can't be done. We can't possibly stand against them.'"

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) was furious with Cruz's remarks. "I resoundingly reject that allegation," McCain said. "That allegation, in my view, does a great disservice. A great disservice to those brave Americans and those who stood up and said, 'what's happening in Europe cannot stand.'"

Mr. Cruz became one of the architects of the 2013 government shutdown that ran from October 1 to October 16. As many as 800,000 government employees were furloughed and another 1.3 million had to work without pay. It is estimated that the shutdown cost the U.S. economy at least $12 billion. Representative Peter King (R-NY) reacted brusquely to Cruz's presidential announcement. "Shutting down the federal government and reading Dr. Seuss on the Senate floor are the marks of a carnival barker not the leader of the free world," King said in a statement.

Unapologetic, Cruz has continued his relentless attacks Obamacare. So it was ironic that Cruz made this announcement Tuesday: "We'll be getting new health insurance and we'll presumably do it through my job with the Senate, and so we'll be on the federal exchange with millions of others on the federal exchange." Because Cruz's wife was taking a leave of absence from her banking job at Goldman Sachs the family will no longer be covered by their health plan. But his spokesman said Senator Cruz wouldn't take the government contribution he is entitled to as a member of Congress under the ACA.

Senator Cruz, a Harvard educated lawyer and Princeton debate champion, is quick to come up with a witty quip. For instance, when the White House announced its support for net-neutrality. "In short, net neutrality is Obamacare for the Internet," he said. "It would put the government in charge of determining Internet pricing, terms of service and what types of products and services can be delivered, leading to fewer choices, fewer opportunities and higher prices." But experts say his comparison is inaccurate. "It takes a special kind of wrongness to look at a plan that is focused on making sure that no one can be blocked and argue that it means the government gets to pick what services can be delivered," the site TechDirt wrote.

In a 2010 speech, Cruz launched a McCarthy era attack on Harvard. The New Yorker reported that he said, “There were fewer declared Republicans in the faculty when we were there than Communists! There was one Republican. But there were twelve who would say they were Marxists who believe in the Communists overthrowing the United States government.” A Harvard spokesperson was quoted as responding, "We are puzzled by the Senator's assertions, as we are unaware of any basis for them."

Cruz can be too clever by half. For instance, take his opposition to those who are advocating measures to reduce global warming. "What do they do? They scream, 'You're a denier.' They brand you a heretic," Cruz told Texas Tribune reporter Jay Root. "Today, the global warming alarmists are the equivalent of the flat-Earthers. It used to be [that] it is accepted scientific wisdom the Earth is flat, and this heretic named Galileo was branded a denier." On this issue Cruz is a flat-wronger. According to NASA, "Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities, and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position."

"Imagine abolishing the IRS," Senator Cruz said in his announcement Monday, "abolishing the IRS ain't all that tough." But the IRS collects $2.4 billion in taxes used to pay for the military, Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs. Cruz proposes a flat tax. However, if there are going to be federal taxes some agency will need to collect them!

Ted Cruz, 44, was born in Canada, but he has since given up his Canadian citizenship. His father, Rafael Cruz, is a controversial evangelical Texas pastor who believes his son is the anointed one. In a 2013 interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Pastor Cruz recalled he told his then four-year old son, “'You know Ted, you have been gifted above any man that I know and God has destined you for greatness.' And I started making declarations about the Word of God to him every day.”

Pastor Cruz has reportedly embraced the Christian Dominionism theology, which believes that Christians are called to take "dominion" over every aspect of the American culture and use them to create God's kingdom on Earth in order to bring about the return of Jesus Christ.

In his announcement Monday, Senator Cruz said, “God’s blessing has been on America from the very beginning of this nation, and I believe God isn’t done with America yet.” He continued, “I believe in you. I believe in the power of millions of courageous conservatives rising up to re-ignite the promise of America.”

Cruz, a first-term Senator, is the first Republican candidate to throw his hat into the ring. He will try to consolidate his support among conservatives and Christian evangelicals. He has repeatedly said that a moderate Republican cannot win the presidency. In January he said, "If we nominate another candidate in the mold of Bob Dole or John McCain or Mitt Romney...the same people who stayed home in 2008 and 2012 will stay home in 2016 and the Democrats will win again. There is a better way."

But many Republicans already believe that if Senator Ted Cruz is their party's nominee there is no way they will win the White House in 2016.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Hillary Clinton Stumbles

Democrats may be getting a little anxious.  Hillary Clinton is stumbling into the starting gate.  Since she became the prohibitive favorite for her party's nomination she has made some mistakes.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has yet to explain why she used a personal email account during her entire tenure at State (2009-2013) instead of using an official government email account.  On the face of it, this makes no sense and calls in to question her judgment.   Putting aside whether she complied with regulations, a private email server does not have the same level of security against hacking that a government managed server does.  

The Russians, Chinese and Iranians very likely could have gotten access to Secretary Clinton's email traffic.  And there was plenty of traffic, especially considering the 55,000 pages of emails she turned over to the State Department are only a portion of those she wrote while in office.  

While Clinton has not talked about the controversy, her aides are fighting back by attacking the media.  Her supporters also point out that she complied with the regulations (maybe), and that former Secretary of State Colin Powell also used a private email account.  But that was five years earlier, when the State Department system wasn't as robust.  

Leading Democrats are pressing for an explanation.  Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-CA, said on NBC's Meet the Press, "From this point on...the silence is going to hurt her...She is the leading candidate, whether it be Republican or Democrat, to be the next president."  Republicans have seized the issue with gusto.   Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-SC, is chairman for the House Select Committee on Benghazi.  He told CBS's Face the Nation, his committee doesn't have all of Clinton's emails.  "It's not up to Secretary Clinton to decide what is a public record and what is not," he said, adding: "I don't want everything. I just want everything related to Libya and Benghazi."

President Barack Obama, in an interview about the 50th anniversary of the historic march in Selma, Alabama, had to address the subject in an interview with CBS News.  He said the policy of his administration was to encourage transparency.  “My emails, the Blackberry I carry around, all those records are available and archived,” Mr. Obama said. “I’m glad that Hillary’s instructed that those emails about official business need to be disclosed.”  President Obama was referring to a post on Twitter by Clinton Wednesday night in which she wrote, “I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible."   Really, that's it?  How long will it take for State to sift through 55,000 pages of email?  

Secretary Clinton's email-capade has opened up speculation as to her motive.  The conservative National Journal reasons, "its greatest relevancy is what the emails might reveal about any nexus between Clinton's work at State and donations to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation from U.S. corporations and foreign nations."  Did the ultimate power couple leverage their positions of power for donations?  Even Saturday Night Live got into the act.  Cast member Kate McKinnon, doing an impression of Clinton, said, "Those emails are clean as a whistle. This is not how Hillary Clinton goes down." 

Senator Chuck Schumer found himself defending Secretary Clinton on CBS's Face the Nation.  "The bottom line is she's a national figure, a potential presidential candidate. People are going to shoot at her," he said calling it a “slight bump in the road six months from now.”  

Hillary Clinton is rumored to be putting her campaign team together, and she may announce her intention to run for president sooner rather than later.  However, her handling of the controversy over her use of private emails while at the State Department has exposed one of her great weaknesses: transparency.  This may well be her Achilles heel.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Dress

Late Thursday night, after returning home from a long day at the office, my daughter called me into the kitchen.  "Look at this dad," she said as she shoved a smartphone in front of me.  What's the big deal, I thought, as I looked a picture of a dress.

"What color is it?" my daughter asked.  My wife, who was standing next to my daughter, leaned in to hear my answer.  I responded, "gold and white."  My daughter said emphatically, "See mom!"

"No, no," my wife said insistently, "it's black and blue."

I thought nothing more about the disagreement as I left the kitchen to put the dogs out.  But the next morning I was startled to see that "the dress" was dominating social media.  What had started as a question on Tumblr was now a national obsession.  How could some people see black and blue where I saw gold and white?

I was so skeptical that I decided to do an experiment in my college class.  The students were all up to speed on the dress dispute, and all of them had seen it.  I projected the image on a screen in the classroom and asked the students what they saw.  Of the 20 students sampled, 40% saw black and blue.  I was amazed. 

Our class then talked about how this may be a metaphor for our politically divided country -- and, no matter what you say, people see what they see; nothing will change their mind. 

Of course, the controversy generated tremendous worldwide social media use overnight.  It seemed like everyone was weighing in on Twitter.  The dress had gone viral!  This, it was no surprise to see, meant that news organizations, publications and websites had to ride the trending tide of interest to draw viewers.  For instance, the network and cable morning programs devoted segments to the controversy where anchors disagreed and haggled on air over what the actual colors were. 

The New York Times reports that the dress was worn by a bride at a wedding in Scotland and posted online by a band member.  When no one could agree on the colors, she posted the picture on Tumblr.  It was off to the races!

Scientists and scientific magazines have been weighing in with explanations of what is hard for me to really understand.  Wired magazine quoted one doctor's explanation, "'What's happening here is your visual system is looking at this thing, and you're trying to discount the chromatic bias of the daylight axis,' says Bevil Conway, a neuroscientist who studies color and vision at Wellesley College. 'So people either discount the blue side, in which case they end up seeing white and gold, or discount the gold side, in which case they end up with blue and black.'"

USA Today reports that the dress is actually black and blue, and it is for sale in the United Kingdom.

So why did the dress become such an obsession?  Maybe it was a welcome diversion from reports of terrorism, government gridlock, or the foul weather.

I guess it all depends on how you see it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Homeland Security Impasse

 Minnesota's Mall of America was named this past weekend as a possible target of a terrorist attack in a one-hour video released by the militant Somali group al-Shabaab.   Concern about such an attack could not be higher, especially following on the heels of terrorist attacks in France and Denmark.  But that has not deterred congressional Republicans from playing games with America's security.

Republicans promised things would get better if they were put in charge of Congress.  Yet, due to a lack of leadership and seemingly irresolvable differences among their members, they are holding up funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which is set to run out this Friday. 

What kind of game is this?  Well, House Republicans, unhappy with President Barack Obama's executive order on immigration, have attached an amendment to the DHS funding bill that would stop the president's immigration action, which they consider illegal.  The strategy was to have the DHS funding bill pass with the immigration amendment attached.  If the president subsequently vetoed the measure he would be attacked for failing to protect the nation. 

But the Republican measure has not been able to clear the Senate because Republicans do not have enough votes to avoid a filibuster.   Democrats in Congress want a "clean bill" to fund DHS, one without any amendments.  Meanwhile, the clock is ticking.  If DHS funding runs out thousands of its employees will be furloughed, while 170,000 essential personal will have to work without pay.  "We need to fund the Department of Homeland Security," Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said Monday evening, "We cannot shut down the Department of Homeland Security." 

With Republicans facing increased criticism and blame for the impasse, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) proposed an alternative strategy.  He would allow a clean vote on the DHS funding bill, which is for one year, and then have a separate vote on a bill that would stop President Obama's executive actions on immigration.  His goal would be to make Democrats, who did not favor the president's executive action, have to vote on the record.

But Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was more concerned that House Republicans would not go along with the proposal.  This is because House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) cannot control his own caucus.  And, sure enough, with McConnell's proposal only hours old, conservative House members spoke out against the gambit.   Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) issued a statement saying, "The Senate Majority Leader’s plan to divorce the funding bill from the unlawful actions it is restricting is tantamount to surrender, and won’t meet with support in the People’s House."

Meanwhile, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), the man responsible for the 2013 government shutdown, issued a statement of his own.   "Leadership's current plan -- to pass clean DHS funding and separate legislation barring executive amnesty -- is a mistake," Cruz said. "Congress is obliged to use every constitutional check and balance we have to rein in President Obama's lawlessness, and that includes both our confirmation authority over nominees and the power of the purse."

Last week a Texas federal judge halted implementation of the president's executive order on immigration.  The case is likely to take some time to work its way through the courts.  This has led many observers to wonder why Republicans just don't go ahead with a clean DHS funding bill and let the courts deal with the legality of the president's action on immigration.  

That would seem like common sense, especially considering the increased terrorist threats.  But common sense does not apply in Washington, least of all for congressional Republicans. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Bob Simon Remembered

There have been few television correspondents who could tell a story the way Bob Simon did.   His curiosity, intelligence and sense of adventure would take him from his native Bronx, New York, to Brandeis University, and on to the front lines of history. 

CBS News hired young Bob Simon, a Fulbright Scholar, for its assignment desk in 1967.  He would soon be assigned to cover stories the more veteran reporters did not want to cover.  Four decades later he would recall, in a 2013 interview for the Archive of American Television, "Knowing what to do was simple--tell a story."

CBS News moved him to its London bureau, and from there he was assigned to cover the Vietnam War.  Working with legendary cameramen like Norman Lloyd and David Green, he excelled as a war correspondent.  "It is the biggest adrenalin rush there is," he reflected, "there is no other experience that matches it."   

Simon had an amazing ability to let the pictures carry the story while complementing the scenes with just the right words.  He remembered being there when a young Vietnamese girl was running naked down a road away from a burning village.  "What do you say?  Where it is, her name, and that there are American fighter jets."

Simon had several tours of duty in Vietnam.  He was there at the end.  He recalled that the U.S. had alerted Americans that, "When the military radio played I'm dreaming of White Christmas it would be the cue to get your asses to the embassy."  Simon said when the order came it was chaos, and climbing over the embassy wall was a problem because U.S.  Marines were driving people back.  "You had to have round eyes that day," he recalled. 

Simon became the most acclaimed network Middle East correspondent while assigned to the CBS News Tel Aviv bureau.   He would always push the borders of coverage, and he could beautifully capture its complexity.  "Rivers make the best borders," he wrote.  "Even though Jordan is little more than a lively brook at the level of the Allenby bridge, even though the two banks -- lush vegetation trailing up to mad lunarscapes -- are mirror images of each other, crossing over from Israeli territory to Jordan, always carries a sense of transition of the forbidden, of moving between enemy camps."

Simon would test those borders during the first Gulf War when he and his crew walked to the top of a sand dune near Al-Ruqi, an inland border post between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.   They were captured by the Iraqi military and held, beaten, starved and interrogated for forty days.  The Iraqis accused them of being spies.

 "'Name? Rank?' a voice shouted," Simon wrote in his riveting account of captivity in his 1992 book Forty Days.  "I'm not military, " Simon responded.  "Our sources tell us you have good relations with the government of Israel," the interrogator said.  "That's it, I thought," Simon wrote.  "The game is up.  I found this realization calming in a way...It was all over, but I would go on playing for a while." Simon and his crew would be freed after 40 days, but they were all deeply affected by the ordeal.

Simon would return to work.   He had visited 67 different countries as a foreign correspondent.  He was known among his producer colleagues for screening every inch of footage before writing his story, and then memorably capturing a scene in a few words.  For instance, Simon covered Hong Kong's transition from British rule to China in 1997.  He spotted footage of an old Chinese man doing his Tai Chi exercise in the early morning.  It would be his opening scene.  "The debts of history are coming due," he would write.

He became a full-time correspondent on 60 Minutes in 2005, but he had already filed several important pieces for the broadcast.  Before the U.S. went to war with Iraq in 2003, Simon would remember, "I knew from my sources, and from the Israelis...and whatever you think of the Israeli's, they have great intelligence, that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."   He continued, "We couldn't say we did a story, called 'The Selling of a War,' and the piece got a lot of attention...but (President) Bush invaded Iraq anyway."

Simon collected 27 Emmy Awards and four Peabody Awards over nearly 50 years of brilliant journalism.  It is shocking that, after covering war zones from Vietnam to the Middle East, and violent uprisings from Northern Ireland to Tiananmen Square, his life ended in the back seat of a town car on New York City's West Side Highway.  

Bob Simon is survived by his daughter, Tanya, who is a 60 Minutes producer, and wife, Franciose.  He will be greatly missed by thousands of current and former admiring colleagues and friends.  And millions of viewers will miss his distinctive voice and unique writing style.  He truly was one of a kind.    

He concluded the final chapter of Forty Days with what might have been broadcast then had things turned out differently for him.  "That obituary for Simon showed clips of him in his various disguises: safari jackets, blazers, tuxedos, covering wars, uprisings, galas.  It was well produced, well edited, and well written...It was first-rate television piece.  Clearly, it deserved to make air."

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Brian Williams and NBC News

NBC Newsman Brian Williams announced in a note to news staffers Saturday that he is taking time off from the program.  "In the midst of a career spent covering and consuming news, it has become painfully apparent to me that I am presently too much a part of the news, due to my actions. As Managing Editor of NBC Nightly News, I have decided to take myself off of my daily broadcast for the next several days,"  Williams wrote.   He concluded, "Upon my return, I will continue my career-long effort to be worthy of the trust of those who place their trust in us."

Williams' announcement came one day after NBC News executives confirmed they are conducting an internal investigation into false claims made by Williams that he has since corrected.   Williams admitted on his broadcast Wednesday night that, “I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago...I want to apologize.” 

For more than a decade, Williams has repeatedly said, that while on assignment in Iraq in 2003, he was aboard a helicopter that was hit by enemy fire and forced down.  In March 2013, he told David Letterman,  “We were going to drop some bridge portions across the Euphrates so the third infantry could cross on them. Two of our four helicopters were hit by ground fire including the one I was in. RPG and AK-47's."

Stars and Stripes, which broke the story, reported that Williams and his crew were actually aboard a helicopter "that was about an hour behind the three helicopters that came under fire."  It quoted the helicopter's flight engineer, "No, we never came under direct enemy fire to the aircraft."

But now NBC News and Williams are coming under direct fire.  Meanwhile, new allegations of fabrications by Williams have surfaced, which NBC News is now investigating.  This crisis presents management with a nightmare dilemma.

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams is currently the number one rated network evening newscast in households, and in the key 25-54 demographic, according to Nielsen.  But ABC's World News Tonight is close behind and positioned to move ahead should NBC falter. The New York Post quotes figures from Kantar Media that show Nightly News made about $200 million in annual ad revenue in 2013, $30 million more than ABC's World News.  NBC News executives are carefully watching the ratings to see how the audience responds to the controversy.  A ratings reduction could cost the division millions of dollars and lead to layoffs. 

While working as a reporter for the CBS local New York affiliate earlier in his career, Williams aspired to be Walter Cronkite, once America's "most trusted" newsman.  In 1993, Williams joined NBC News, and he became anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News in December 2004.  He replaced the legendary and beloved Tom Brokaw as the face of NBC News.  Since his ascendancy, he has been a popular broadcaster and an award winning journalist.  NBC News has vigorously promoted Williams as the leading news personality.  So replacing him would be difficult.

Brokaw, in an email to the Huffington Post, denied a New York Post report he wanted Williams fired.  "I have neither demanded nor suggested Brian be fired," Brokaw wrote. "His future is up to Brian and NBC News executives."  In a memo to staffers Friday, NBC News president Deborah Turness said, "We're working on what the next best steps are--and when we have something to communicate we will of course share it with you."  Neither statement expressed support for Williams.

The mistakes Williams has admitted to, and apologized for, have cast a dark cloud over everyone at NBC News.  The news organization is filled with dedicated, hardworking and accomplished producers, reporters and technicians.  This controversy has been devastating, disruptive and discouraging for everyone at NBC News, which has already had its share of struggles over the past few years.

While some critics have called for Williams to be fired, he still has many supporters, including within the organization.  NBC News won't make a decision on his future until it has completed its investigation.  If Williams continues to anchor Nightly News, he owes his viewers and his colleagues a better explanation than he has offered thus far. 

Nonetheless, NBC News should be transparent with the findings of its internal investigation, and publicly release all of the facts it uncovers.  Not to do so would severely undermine its credibility and cast doubts on its commitment to the highest standards of journalism.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sandy Socolow 1928-2015

The legendary CBS News producer Sanford "Sandy" Socolow has diedHe worked at CBS News for 32 years, during its truly golden years, four of them as Walter Cronkite's executive producer.  He was a rare combination of outstanding journalist and wonderful person, beloved by all those who knew him.

Socolow participated in some of the most historic events in network news.  He was there when Cronkite took over as anchor of the CBS Evening News in April 1962, replacing Douglas Edwards.  Then the evening newscast aired for 15 minutes.  In an interview with CNN, Socolow recounted, "The first night up, he ended the show by saying, I'm paraphrasing, 'That's the news. Be sure to check your local newspapers tomorrow to get all the details on the headlines we are delivering to you.'"

Management did not like that. "In the absence of anything else, he came up with 'That's the way it is.'" But Socolow remembered CBS News President Richard Salant's reaction, "We're not telling them that's the way it is. We can't do that in 15 minutes,' which was the length of the show in those days. 'That's not the way it is.'"  But Cronkite prevailed.

Socolow was there in September 1962 when the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite became the first network newscast to expand to a half-hour.  The broadcast featured a lengthy interview with President John Kennedy filmed at his family compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.  The president would be assassinated just 81 days later in Dallas, Texas.  An emotional Cronkite announced to the nation,  "From Dallas, Texas, the (AP) flash, apparently official:  'President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time.' (glancing up at clock) 2 o'clock Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago."

Socolow worked with Cronkite during the tumultuous 60's, covering the Civil Rights movement, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, and the Vietnam War.  When Cronkite returned from Vietnam in February 1968, where he went to get a reporter's view of the war, Socolow recalled that Salant urged him to share his opinion on the evening news.  But Cronkite was reluctant to do so, "He was a purist," Socolow said. "And, a lot of people would say, to a fault, if there can be a fault in such a definition."

Cronkite agreed to share his opinion in a prime time news special, not on the evening newscast.  After observing that the U.S. military was mired in a stalemate, Cronkite said, "It is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out (of the Vietnam War) then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could." 

The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite dominated the ratings throughout the 70's, including during the Watergate crisis and the resignation of President Richard Nixon.  Socolow served as CBS News' Washington Bureau Chief from Watergate to President Jimmy Carter's term in office, where he endured the contentious relationship between the Nixon White House and CBS News.

He then served as the final executive producer of The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.  Socolow noted that Cronkite wanted "To retire as undefeated champ, and he made his views known." On Friday, March 6, 1981, nearly 30 million people watched as Cronkite signed off for a final time,  "And that's the way it is, Friday, March 6, 1981. I'll be away on assignment, and Dan Rather will be sitting in here for the next few years. Good night."  Socolow continued as executive producer during the Rather transition before taking over as CBS News London Bureau Chief.

Socolow was born in the Bronx on November 11, 1928.  He worked on the school newspaper while attending Stuyvesant High School.  Socolow remembered being at New York's Polo Grounds watching the New York Giants when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  "The public address announcer was heard to say, ‘All active military personnel report to their stations,'" he remembered, "and the game continued."

His parents, who were both immigrants, wanted him to be an accountant because "they will always be needed."  So he attended City College, "because it was free," but dropped accounting after one semester for liberal arts.  He worked at the campus newspaper and became a stringer at the school for the New York Times.   North Korea invaded South Korea on the day Socolow graduated from college.  He was drafted and sent to Japan where, because of his New York Times experience, he was assigned to a radio group in Tokyo.

Following the Korean War he landed a job at the International News Agency (INS), which was a news service run by Hearst.  Because of his junior status at INS, he was assigned to cover Marilyn Monroe's weeklong visit to the U.S. troops in Korea.

He had made many reporter friends at CBS News during the Korean War, and they would lobby their management to hire Socolow.  He was hired by CBS News in 1956 to work in the Edward R. Murrow operation for $125 a week, "before taxes."  Soon Socolow would begin writing and producing for Cronkite, and their personal and professional relationship would continue until Cronkite's death in 2009, decades after they each left CBS.

Sandy Socolow is survived by his sons Jonathan and Michael, and daughter Elisabeth.  As word of his death spread throughout the industry, many of his former colleagues shared their thoughts on Facebook.  Long-time CBS News London correspondent Tom Fenton wrote, "Sandy was one of the best and brightest newsmen of the golden age of CBS News. He was also a warm and generous person, a great boss and a delightful friend. He will be greatly missed by all of us who knew him." 

And that is the way it is.  

(Sandy Socolow was a mentor to me, a wise and loving man who had a huge impact on my life. God bless him, and my deepest condolences and prayers for his family.   They will have a private burial for their father, and a memorial service is in the works for March or April.)
Sandy Socolow and Joe Peyronnin 9/14
 View and extended interview with Socolow by the Archive of American Television