Q: There's something here in your office we ought to discuss. What's with that massive gong?
A: Well, Mickey Hart is a good friend of mine.
Q: The drummer from the Grateful Dead?
A: Yeah. He's a real expert on percussion instruments around the world. And he gave me that lovely thing. You can play a tune on it, it's so beautifully tuned. It's quite remarkable. It's from Tibet.
Q: When you were starting out, how did you choose what you would wear on the air?
A: I'll tell you, it was ridiculously important because the first television tubes were very sensitive to color. It demanded that we not use bright colors. Really, the terrible period came when we were using rear projection and we could not wear blue. Well, all of us had nothing but blue shirts and blue suits, so we had to go around finding green suits to wear because they would register better against a blue background. They looked terrible. I got rid of them as soon as I possibly could.
Q: Did you ever come close to a mistake like the one haunting Dan Rather?
A: Fortunately I don't know about the close times, and I'm sure there must have been some. But I never had a failure quite like that, where my sources actually turned out to be wrong, or not the sources they claimed to be.
Q: Do you ever regret retiring?
A: Yes. All the time. I retired too early. I retired when I was 64. I'd been in daily journalism since I was 16 years old, fighting deadlines. So with the retirement, the idea was I wanted to get away from the daily deadlines.
Q: Did you feel the urge to get back in the game within a few years?
A: Almost immediately. I'd just, just stepped down and gone off to Moscow to do a couple of documentary stories. I got there just in time for the assassination attempt on Reagan. My gosh, here was this big story, and I'm in Moscow, not able to do anything about it. And that continued. Then with every big story, I wished I were covering it. I still do. Yeah.
Q: It used to be problematic even to utter the word pregnant on television, and now we see a fairly free use of sexual language. How do you feel about that?
A: I abhor the cheapening of the language. There's too much of that. I think we ought to be a little bit more considerate of the language we use and try to avoid the dirty words, if you please. We can get along without them.
Q: What would be an indulgence of yours?
A: Ohhh, liquor, sex. Tobacco is not one. I was a great pipe smoker-and cigars, but never cigarettes-so it was very easy for me to quit. I used to close the broadcasts, over the closing commercials, tapping my tobacco in my pipe and lighting it. And I quit that the very first day that they came out with the dangers of tobacco for health. Not for myself, but because I didn't want to be an example. I can't say the same about sex and liquor.