Steve Kroft On The Big Get: “We Were There First”

By Alissa Krinsky Comment

Alissa Krinsky
TVNewser Contributor

Obamasteve08.jpgIn getting the big interview, being first helps — whether first in ratings or first at the door.

“We went and started working on a profile before he declared his candidacy,” says 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft of President-elect Barack Obama. “I can remember the first time we went to the Obama house, the little girls answered the door. It’s not like that now.”

Kroft is in Chicago finishing up the first post-election interview of the President-elect, which will air Sunday. He first interviewed then-Sen. Obama for 60 Minutes in February of 2007.

“I think that they were happy with the story we did, and I had a good rapport with the candidate,” Kroft tells TVNewser. “And it was 60 Minutes. And as the campaign progressed, we were there at sort of every crucial stage.

“And they realized that it was a great opportunity for them, particularly at a time when they were concerned about getting the American people an opportunity to get to know the candidate.”

Kroft’s interview last Sunday with Obama’s top aides helped make 60 Minutes the week’s #1 show. Not bad for a program that recently marked its 40th anniversary.

“I think we’re still one of the best shows on television,” says Kroft. “And I think that to a certain extent, in the era of cable news, where you have lots of talking heads going on and on and on and on, there are very few places where you can get really thoughtful, in-depth journalism right now.”

So, as Kroft nears his 20 year-anniversary with 60 Minutes, is he thinking about retirement?

The 63-year-old Kroft will celebrate that anniversary in May. “Where did the time go?” he asks rhetorically. “It’s great to have one job for twenty years. I never thought that I would ever have a single job for twenty years. And if I was going to pick a job to have, this would be it,” he says.

“I was beginning to think about retirement. Then, like everybody else, I looked at my 401(k) this month. So I’m going to have to be working here for a while!”