In the coveted world of today’s top female journalists, Lesley Stahl enjoys a prominent place of respect and authenticity. She has long ago broken the proverbial glass ceiling, beginning her illustrious career at the age of 30 in 1972 when she was hired by CBS News, on the same day affirmative action was established.
Stahl went on to spend two decades at the White House covering the administrations of three presidents, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. From March 1991, she has been a respected co-editor at the highly successful television news show “60 Minutes.”
Ms. Stahl spoke Wednesday night September 19, 2012 at the Quick Center on the campus of Fairfield University as part of its Open Visions Forum, sharing her insights, to a packed house, of decades in the political arena in general and in the upcoming presidential election in particular.
As one of the best broadcast journalists, with forty years of political experience, she feels energized by the current events. Despite polls to the contrary, she believes the “upcoming debates are crucial” and hopes Americans will be watching to judge the candidates for their competence, leadership and likeability. Stahl says this despite believing that the candidate, Obama or Romney, who is ahead before the debates always wins.
Having covered the campaigns since 1972, she feels this year is different and it is worrisome to her. Neither man is shifting to the middle, as if the middle has been hollowed out. Each man is appealing to the wings with no incentive to reach a compromise and so a gridlock is created. The advancement of technology is also playing a big role, with Twitter being more popular than television. She remembers “when there were only three television networks and a president could speak to the entire nation, everyone watched and we were all brought together, solidified.”
Today, Stahl claims we are “all tribes and all broken up” and it’s “government by Twitter.” She fears we will never get ahead if we don’t learn to compromise. To Stahl, “we are still a 50/50 country, on every issue. We need to find a way to reestablish a middle ground…stop being polarized and distrustful of each other.”