Former ABC News president David Westin interviewed a familiar face on Bloomberg <GO> today. Westin, a lawyer-turned TV executive, turned-on-air personality, has been co-hosting Bloomberg’s morning show with Stephanie Ruhle since October. The thought of booking his former boss, Disney’s Chairman & CEO Bob Iger, has been in the works almost that long.
“There is no better time, obviously, than the Monday after Star Wars debuted,” Westin told TVNewser.
Westin has known Iger for roughly 25 years, since their days at Capital Cities/ABC. The two remain in contact and maintain a “comfortable and close relationship.”
Despite the friendship, Westin didn’t lob softballs at the boss.
“It’s important that it be, as much as possible, just another interview in the sense that you want to make sure you cover the full range of topics that are appropriate, and you let him have his say, but also press him a bit on the issues that our viewers would want us to press him on,” Westin said. “It’s like any interview. You want to be prepared and ask good questions.”
Westin admitted it was, “perhaps a little more challenging because it was particularly important that we do a good job.”
“I take some pleasure and satisfaction out of the fact that we made a lot of news,” Westin said. “Ultimately, that is what we’re here for.”
Iger broke down the blockbuster box office numbers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And Westin admits he helped add to that take.
“I saw it with my kids on Sunday and I think it’s no exaggeration to say, it is as good as any and quite possibly the best [Star Wars film]. It’s quite a movie.” Westin said.
Iger, who once had ambitions of being on-air himself, joined ABC in 1974, rose through the ranks and was named Disney CEO in 2005. He’ll step down as CEO in 2018.
As for Westin, who departed ABC News in 2010, he is enjoying his new gig but says it’s “so different and so challenging that it takes a while to really internalize it.”
“If I had done this for two or three weeks at the beginning of my tenure at ABC News, I would have been a better news president because I would have understood what it’s like to be on this side of the camera,” he said. “You can’t understand it until you’re there.”
“I’m rooting for ABC News,” Westin said. “I was there for almost 14 years and a lot of those people are my friends. I hired most of them. Promoted them. I’m always rooting for them.”
“Broadcast news is different today than it was when I started in 1997. There have been so many changes in the business. The economic pressures on broadcast, both news and entertainment are enormous,” Westin said. “Ratings overall are down across the board and that puts a lot of pressure on an advertiser-supported medium.”
Here’s part of Iger’s appearance on Bloomberg <GO> this morning: