A look behind the scenes of TV news
Richard Nixon remains ''an intently convoluted, complex man,'' according to Diane Sawyer, co-anchor of CBS Morning News, once a Nixon staff member and still a friend.
Interviewed by Kim Gantz on the program All About TV, Sawyer reveals such knowledgeable grace and humility that it becomes apparent why the CBS Morning News is beginning to show signs of possibly overtaking NBC's ''Today'' show.
''All About TV'' is a half-hour discussion show about behind-the-scenes TV. It is syndicated on many PBS and UHF stations, as well as on some cable systems (the Sawyer episode begins airing in various cities on Jan. 30 - check local listings). Gantz is co-producer, and also alternates as host with Steven Scheuer. Like Sawyer, she is incisive and unflappable. One of these days I hope she, too, will be turning up on network TV.
In the Sawyer interview, she manages to explore deeply, touching sensitive subjects without disrupting the easy air of the interview. Can Sawyer be objective in covering Nixon stories? she was asked in the program. Yes, she answered, but she has requested an agreement with CBS News that she not cover Nixon (except for the recent five-part interview she was able to pull off) in order not to have to prove constantly that she can be impartial.
''He impresses me as a man who is always saying to himself, 'Whatever they may think of me, I will not grovel,' '' is just about as far as she will go in analyzing Richard Nixon today.
How does Sawyer respond to charges that the CBS Morning News is leaning toward a jazzy, show-biz touch these days in order to gain wider audiences?
''How unrelenting can you be about Lebanon every morning at 7 a.m.? We are trying to do a variety of stories. We are trying to be an electronic newspaper. As long as we do not titillate, I see nothing wrong with fitting in a story about the Dull Men's Club among the harder news. If a viewer insists upon only hard news, he can watch the world-news block at the top half-hour of each hour.''
Sawyer admits, however, that ''I, myself, am against too much good cheer in the morning.''
''All About TV'' with Gantz and Sawyer is simply two charming, intelligent people, who happen to be women, chatting relaxedly about TV news. It's eminently worth searching for in the maze of local listings.