LOS ANGELES — ``I tell myself, `Bernie, remember the basics.' With all the attention CNN gets constantly, one could begin to think he was important as a news person. Once you start thinking that, you're in quicksand.'' CNN's principal Washington anchor, Bernard Shaw, co-hosts two one-hour newscasts - ``The International Hour'' at 3 p.m. and ``The World Today'' at 6 p.m. Owing to CNN's live coverage the Deng/Gorbachev summit, Shaw was one of two CNN anchors already in China when the June 1989 demonstrations broke out. He anchored over 30 hours of live coverage to the US, fighting on air with Chinese officials who were trying to discontinue the broadcast. CNN won the prestigious Du Pont Award for its coverage.
``CNN's attitude from the beginning has been that the news is the star, though research has softened them somewhat,'' he says. ``Now they realize people identify with anchors so we've been getting some promotional attention. I'm not making the money that [NBC's] Tom [Brokaw], [CBS's] Dan Rather, or [ABC's] Peter [Jennings] do, but we're not making slave wages either.''
Shaw has been both lauded and lambasted for his no-nonsense manner on camera. Interviewing Dan Quayle moments after he had been chosen for the Bush ticket, Shaw inquired, ``Senator was fear of being killed in Vietnam your reason for joining the National Guard?'' Opening a Bush/Dukakis presidential debate, Shaw asked the Massachusetts governor if he would favor the death penalty for the murder/rape of his own wife, Kitty.
Besides stealing many surprise stories from the networks, CNN has ``shattered the economics of the network news business,'' according to Shaw.
``We squeeze Lincoln off the five-dollar bill. I remember the first Gorbachev/Reagan summit when cost analysts from the other networks came in and literally counted how many people we had and what they did. To a man - and woman - each was doing the job of two, sometimes three people.'' As a result, you see belt-tightening and ``much more sharing of resources'' at the networks.