ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer sat down with Nick Clooney at the Newseum Tuesday night for an “Inside the Actor’s Studio” kind of interview. Dressed in black from head to toe, Sawyer, 65, charmed the audience with her candor and a quip about how wearing high Christian Louboutin heels keeps people guessing.
The event was part of American University’s Reel Journalism program at the Newseum in which a guest chooses a movie and chats with Clooney, who’s son is actor George Clooney. Sawyer chose “The China Syndrome” starring Jane Fonda, who plays a news anchor for a local TV station, and Michael Douglas, her cameraman.
Sawyer, relaxed and quick to laugh, also had serious observations about women in journalism. “The thing that I like is that it doesn’t make the journalism issues easy,” she said of the 1979 movie. Agreed Clooney, “They give no one a free pass.” Sawyer mentioned “the little gradations that Jane Fonda witnesses, not just thuggish bosses, but subtle things, the little have a nice day ways.”
Still, Sawyer seemed to have no misgivings about her time at CBS’s “60 Minutes” — she’s the first female to have worked there. “I always said that except that they finished their conversations in the men’s room there was nothing I didn’t get to do,” she said.
She spelled out her high hopes for journalism. “I believe in my heart that it is simply going to concentrate us in a new way,” she said of the changes happening in print and broadcast media. “A lot of other things are going to fade by the wayside, it’s going to shift beneath our feet. But the core mission [will stay].”
Clooney wondered about the difference between hosting a morning show and being an evening news anchor. “As you know, it’s just different muscles,” said Sawyer. “You use a narrower band. The difference is every minute has to count, every second has to count.”
Sawyer said she began her career in local news doing the weather – “horribly.” She explained, “I did a lot of the stories you’re going to see her [Fonda] do, birthday parties and aquariums and riding elephants. That’s how I started.”
At the Q and A portion of the program…
Sawyer fielded questions from the audience, many of whom were aspiring journalists. “What are you burning to tell people?” she told one young man, explaining her interviewing process when she makes a new hire. “They all tell me they want to do hour-long documentaries on the environment. I say, what was the last one you watched?”
One male audience member approached the microphone and promptly paid her a compliment: “I have to say, I love the shoes!”