[Carol Marin Steps down after Channel 5 hires Jerry Springer as news commentator]

Composite of several stories on the resignation of Carol Marin from WMAQ-TV in protest of being asked to co-anchor with Jerry Springer, including: 5/4/97: Carol Marin Interview on Good Morning America after stepping down; 5/4/97: CNN - Reliable Sources; 5/5/97: The Late Show with Tom Snyder.

0:01Copy video clip URL Open on Good Morning America Sunday bumper with subtitle “Media.” Clip of Jerry Springer giving high-fives to audience members. 

0:10Copy video clip URL Anchor Bill Ritter introduces a story of “controversy” brewing in Chicago over “a long time anchor” quitting her job over her station hiring “as a commentator, the host of a nationally syndicated tabloid talkshow.” Ritter says the move has “left a lot of people wondering at what point do you draw the line between news and entertainment.” 

0:35Copy video clip URL Footage of Springer giving high-fives to audience members. A reporter says Springer is known for his “outrageous” talk show, and he will begin a stint as a commentator for Chicago’s WMAQ-TV. 

0:55Copy video clip URL Footage of NBC 5 News anchor Carol Marin leaving the WMAQ-TV studio with a bouquet of flowers. The reporter says Springer’s hiring “didn’t sit well with the station’s star anchor, Carol Marin.”

01:02Copy video clip URL Footage of Marin’s last broadcast on WMAQ-TV. The reporter says she “resigned in protest” after nineteen years, “rather than share her news desk with Springer.” Clip of Marin saying: “Words are not adequate to express the thanks I feel.” 

01:29Copy video clip URL Footage of Springer being sworn in as Mayor of Cincinnati in 1977 as well as anchoring the news. The reporter says Springer “reacted angrily” to Marin’s protest. Clip of Springer saying: “She wants to say who else can be on the air. You know what? That’s not the way this country works.” 

01:41Copy video clip URL Footage and freeze frame of Marin getting into the back of a car. Animated news clippings with headlines announcing Marin’s resignation fly onscreen. 

01:46Copy video clip URL Footage of Marin receiving a standing ovation at a “civic event” following her resignation. 

01:51Copy video clip URL Ritter introduces Carol Marin live via video, and says Springer was invited to be on the program but declined. 

02:03Copy video clip URL Ritter asks Marin if she would have been on the show if Springer agreed. Marin says: “I don’t think so, and here’s why: I don’t think the issue is Jerry Springer, Bill, the issue is the credibility of TV news.” Marin says the issue is “not personal” and that Springer is right to say she doesn’t make the decision over who gets to be on air, but adds she can “stick up” for what she believes is good about TV news. 

02:33Copy video clip URL Ritter asks Marin why she quit. Marin says: “I quit because this was sort of the last…the last line, the line I couldn’t cross.” Marin discusses the tension between the commercial and public trust values of news. She adds that this isn’t new, but there has been “a steady erosion.”

03:12Copy video clip URL Ritter asks Marin: “Why draw this line in the sand?” Marin says: “At some point, I and my management reached a point of irreconcilable differences.” Marin explains that this is about all news, not just local. Marin says: “For everything from tabloid values, to the way audiences are being marketed and targeted, to questions of whether we’re so downsized now that we’re not giving appropriate time to in-depth sorts of stories […] Jerry Springer is a symptom of a small part of it.”

04:10Copy video clip URL Ritter and Marin discuss her attempt to leave the station “quietly and with dignity,” remarking that this “didn’t get done.”

04:34Copy video clip URL Ritter remarks that Marin has a reputation as a “tough newswoman, a no-nonsense anchor,” and asks if it’s “weird” to be on the other side of the camera. Marin says it’s “tremendously weird” and “embarrassing,” adding that she doesn’t think it’s about her. 

05:10Copy video clip URL Ritter asks Marin what she will do next, remarking that she took a risk walking away from her contract as well as pointing out her age in a “business that doesn’t treat all 48-year-old women with the respect maybe that they deserve.” Marin says “I love the business,” and that she “did this” for herself, not as a “crusade” or as a “missionary,” and will continue working if she can. 

05:38Copy video clip URL Ritter wishes Marin good luck, remarking that “it’s an issue that a lot of people have fought about for a long time, now a few more people are talking about.”  

06:01Copy video clip URL Commercial break.

07:23Copy video clip URL Cut to black. 

07:32Copy video clip URL Camera fades into Bernard Kalb, who introduces CNN’s Reliable Sources program. Kalb teases upcoming programming, including Marin’s resignation and the parents of JonBenét Rasmey speaking out.

07:58Copy video clip URL Reliable Sources title sequence.

08:13Copy video clip URL Kalb introduces the panel of “media watchers”: Howard Kurtz, Martin Schram, and Ellen Hume. Kalb introduces the first topic: “Jerry Springer incites a journalistic uprising in Chicago.”   

08:34Copy video clip URL Kalb narrates a sequence of clips of Jerry Springer on his talk show intercut with footage of Marin’s last broadcast. Kalb quotes from a Chicago Sun-Times column where Marin describes Springer as “the poster child for the worst television has to offer.” Kalb reports that WMAQ-TV praised Marin after her resignation but defended their hiring of Springer based on his past achievements as a reporter. 

09:31Copy video clip URL Kalb introduces Marin and asks her for “the point” she was trying to make with her resignation. Marin says Springer’s hiring was an “ongoing discussion” with management and that co-anchor Ron Magers and her had been arguing against it since the beginning. Marin says the point is “the credibility and the validity of our newscast would be eroded.”

10:14Copy video clip URL Kurtz asks if Marin has a response to Springer calling her “arrogant.” Marin says: “If he has no respect for television news but chooses to join a newscast I think that speaks a great deal.” Marin adds that she believes there is still a “real role” for television news anchors “to do news well,” and adds that while Springer “may be a perfectly fine commentator,” what he’s chosen to do “is some of the worst television has to offer.” Marin thinks Springer has “forfeited his privilege to jump on television news,” but acknowledges station management will make this decision. 

11:08Copy video clip URL Hume remarks that many think local news is turning towards the “tabloid trend” in a panic to compete with cable news and the internet, and asks Marin if she thinks there is a role for this. Marin says she thinks “it’s much more complicated than that,” that “there is a fight going on in local and national news, both electronic and print, for who we are and what we’re supposed to do […] Jerry Springer is just one symptom of a kind of public cynicism of whether we are a business and a public trust, or whether we have forever given up the public trust part of this deal.”

12:13Copy video clip URL Schram asks about “what was going on behind the scenes” during her last few days. Marin recounts the series of events leading up to her resignation, describing her disagreements and failed attempts to resolve conflict over Springer with management, as well as her and Magers’ public expression of denouncement and the additional support of many other staff members. 

13:35Copy video clip URL Kalb interrupts Marin in order to ask if she think’s the viewers will support her as well. Marin says Chicago is “a brass-knuckles news kind of town,” and thinks the critical viewers will be “confused why a station that is reputable and successful” hired Springer. 

14:25Copy video clip URL Kurtz asks if she’s worried WMAQ-TV is going in a “tabloid” direction. Marin says she is worried we rely on “more expedient” news and that “local news in general is being overwhelmed a bit by more mayhem oriented things.” 

14:59Copy video clip URL Hume remarks that the “classier, more sedate newscast” still outperforms tabloid news and asks Marin if this is true in her market. Marin says they have great demographics with a “very solid reputation and excellent research.” 

15:32Copy video clip URL Schram asks Marin if she will stay in Chicago. Marin says she is not retiring, that she loves television news and is proud of her profession, adding: “I’m not writing the obituary of television news.” Schram asks if she will be competing with WMAQ-TV, to which Marin responds: “I don’t have a job today today, but I’m looking at my possibilities.” 

16:16Copy video clip URL Commercial break. 

18:20Copy video clip URL The Media Watchers, now joined by John Podhoretz, discuss the Springer controversy. Hume says: “The research shows if you go tabloid, yes, you often get a blip in the ratings, but over the long haul you slip back and the classier newscast wins.”

19:01Copy video clip URL Podhoretz calls the controversy “really shutting the barn door after the horse has not only gone, but the horse is extinct,” adding that the trend is 20-years-old. 

19:44Copy video clip URL Schram says Springer was hired because he’s “the anchor of this show that does titillation and trash, and they thought it would be good for ratings.” 

20:29Copy video clip URL Kurtz calls Springer’s hiring “a stunt” and “a gimmick,” and adds that it will bring the already low standard of local news down.

20:58Copy video clip URL Kalb jokingly asks Kurtz: “Are you suggesting that Jerry Springer will not elevate the status of television journalism?”

21:05Copy video clip URL Podhoretz remarks that “the pathetic thing” about Springer’s show is the “pompous” commentary afterwards and ridicules the format.

21:25Copy video clip URL Hume questions why the advertisers aren’t weighing in on Springer’s hiring.

21:33Copy video clip URL Kalb says: “In the long run, integrity of news, serious news, is absolutely critical […] it is critical that the news be offered as sustenance for the American people.” Kalb adds that he hopes “after the curiosity expires” so will Springer as a commentator.   

22:18Copy video clip URL Schram adds that networks do listen to viewers when they express dissatisfaction, pointing out newspapers will bring back comic strips if readers protest. 

22:58Copy video clip URL Cut to static. 

23:30Copy video clip URL The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder title sequence.

24:00Copy video clip URL Snyder teases upcoming programming, and discusses Marin’s resignation. Snyder recounts a story of when he was employed by a competitive news network, which attempted to beat out the other networks by doing a last minute “special report” on pornography, and how he opposed it. Snyder relates this to Marin’s story as a “continuing saga of battles with management […] over what is appropriate, and what is not.”

26:58Copy video clip URL A clip from Springer’s first segment of “Another Point of View” on Channel 5. Without naming her directly, Springer decries the “elitist snobbery” that led Marin to deem him “the poster child of the great unwashed” and suggest “that only people who meet an anchor’s approval” should be allowed on air. He ridicules her for being a “Walter Cronkite wannabe” and hiding behind “self righteous cries of journalistic integrity. Bull…and you can fill in the rest of that word.” Springer asserts that we can only have journalism in a free society if all points of view are allowed, and that he is sorry Marin “found it necessary” to use him “as a stepping stone to martyrdom.” 

28:37Copy video clip URL Commercial break. 

31:45Copy video clip URL Snyder introduces Marin, and asks for her thoughts on Springer’s first commentary. Marin says: “I’m not a martyr […] I’m one woman with a strong feeling and a great conviction about this.”

32:46Copy video clip URL Snyder mentions that “this has been coming on for some time,” and asks Marin about the escalation of conflict. Marin says she tried to fight “behind the scenes,” adding the discussions over Springer began before they were public. Marin describes multiple attempts to convince management not to hire Springer, as she believed it would degrade credibility and trust with the viewership, that it would be “a grenade in our newscast.” 

33:53Copy video clip URL Marin says she agrees with Springer and supports the First Amendment, but asserts her actions also fall under those rights. 

34:07Copy video clip URL Snyder suggests he would have stuck around “to see if it was as bad as it was gonna be” if he was in Marin’s place, asking if she ever thought to “give the guy a chance.” Marin replies that she did not, saying “it would be too late by then,” and discusses the difficulty networks have rehabilitating their image after being branded poorly by tabloid content. Marin says Channel 5 was able to “achieve a balance” of “some decent serious journalism, and some junk,” although admits that it got “tougher” every year. 

35:43Copy video clip URL Snyder describes a segment on Channel 5 where SFX processes were explained in detail, and compares this to weekly discussions over soap operas he witnessed when working at a news network. Snyder says: “This isn’t the news, this is crap!” Marin defends “the notion that news can be a combination of soft and hard,” and compares it to horoscopes on the front page of newspapers. However, she thinks Springer’s hiring would render this balance “shot,” and through her pushback discovered that “any influence” she “ever had in the newsroom was gone.”

37:06Copy video clip URL Snyder asks what other “irreconcilable differences” Marin had with management. Marin recounts a previous disagreement with management in which she resisted partnering with a grocery store to deliver a report on fire safety. She describes a “creeping commercialism” in which “value-added” partnerships with business blurs the lines between news and commercial, decrying this as a “fraud on the public.” 

38:19Copy video clip URL Snyder asks Marin whether “her feelings” were shared with her coworkers. Marin says not everyone shared her point of view, and that “newsrooms are supposed to be, at their best, places where you have passionate debate […] they’re not supposed to be little corporate cubicles of, you know, everybody marching lockstep.”

39:25Copy video clip URL Marin says: “It was a hard decision. I love that newsroom.” Marin praises the reporters who work at Channel 5 and says it’s difficult to do meaningful stories. 

39:51Copy video clip URL Snyder says he “had a lot of fun in the newsroom,” to which Marin jokes “you were a troublemaker.” Snyder says: “We told each other they were full of crap, but we got it done…up to a point, and then of course the silliness took over.” 

40:38Copy video clip URL Commercial break.

43:47Copy video clip URL A caller from Crystal Lake, Illinois asks Marin if moving Springer to an early news slot would have “solved the problem.” Marin says no, that she “couldn’t have lasted even under those circumstances.” The caller mentions a comparison in the Chicago Tribune of Springer to Mike Royko, to which Snyder interjects: “Please don’t mention Mike Royko in the same breath as Jerry Springer.” Marin says it’s not personal about Springer, but about the “dumbing down of news.” 

45:44Copy video clip URL Snyder asks Marin if Springer quit the show and the “sleaze” if it would be a “different ballgame.” Marin says it’s not about Springer’s career path, but about “the news and the fact that some of us still believe in it.” 

46:22Copy video clip URL Snyder remarks on the “irony” of Marin’s publicized resignation bringing more viewership to WMAQ-TV. Marin says she understands she is “part of the carnival,” but adds that this was “inevitable.” Marin says: “If I’m going to be a part of the carnival, then maybe it gives us a chance to have this discussion.” 

47:01Copy video clip URL Snyder asks Marin why she was the only one who left. Marin says her actions are not part of a “movement,” and expresses discomfort with “being on the other side of the camera.” 

47:50Copy video clip URL Snyder discusses the impact of extensive news coverage on celebrities and their families, citing his personal relationship with Barbara Walters and his refusal to report on her divorce. Marin describes the perspective of her children on the events. 

50:04Copy video clip URL Snyder asks Marin what she would like to do “in a perfect world.” Marin says she would like to keep reporting the news as a “blend” of investigative journalism and long-form documentaries. 

51:17Copy video clip URL Commercial break. 

54:38Copy video clip URL A caller from Chicago, Illinois remarks that Marin would be a benefit to a “national news show,” and comments that Springer has “made his mark in trash tv” and needs to “build his reputation up slowly” before transitioning into television news. Snyder adds that there is not a clear cut answer, and that he agrees with the caller as well as with Springer’s assertion that he has a “right” to free speech on the airwaves. Marin agrees, but adds that Springer’s content represents a “forfeiture” of credibility. 

56:52Copy video clip URL Snyder presents a hypothetical scenario in which Marin stayed at WMAQ-TV and introduced Springer on air, saying: “He has every right to comment on this station, but I don’t think he’s qualified.” Marin says Springer’s show “has a right to exist,” to which Snyder interrupts and says that “it’s part of what’s wrong with television kid, we both know that.”

57:41Copy video clip URL Snyder says: “You did a brave and courageous thing, but it’s not gonna change anything […] these guys who run these things are gonna keep it cash profitable no matter what they have to do.” Marin says she “tried to make this decision quietly,” and adds that she thinks “people get to decide.”

58:43Copy video clip URL Snyder mentions an editorial in the Chicago Sun-Times where Marin and Magers are accused of “appearing elitist.” Marin describes her written response, which defends herself as having “grown up in the city of Chicago” and a “blue-collar kid” whose “parents were addicted to newspapers.” Marin says: “I learned to believe and respect news.” Marin discusses the “battle for the heart and soul” of news as being fought electronically and in print, as well as locally and nationally, addressing the controversy surrounding TIME magazine’s cover of Ellen DeGeneres as an example.  

59:49Copy video clip URL Marin says Springer is not “even a paragraph” of the discussion, adding the pressing questions surrounding “fewer and fewer owners” of most news entities and the risk of homogeneity brought by market values. 

1:00:23Copy video clip URL Snyder asks Marin if she can afford to “walk away for a while,” to which Marin responds that she has been “very fortunate,” adding that she is grateful to NBC.   

1:00:51Copy video clip URL Snyder wishes Marin “nothing but success and happiness and peace” and thanks her for coming to California for the show. 

1:01:15Copy video clip URL Commercial break.

1:01:22Copy video clip URL Cut to static.

1:01:28Copy video clip URL Tape ends. 

 

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