The statesman from NBC News

March 1978
Columbia Journalism Review;Mar/Apr1978, Vol. 16 Issue 6, p23
The article deals with the contract of Henry Kissinger with NBC television network, for an estimated $1 million. The contract reportedly calls for him to make occasional appearances on the NBC Nightly News and the Today show; to supervise and appear on programs based on his memoirs; to act as a consultant to the network; and to appear annually in a major documentary on world affairs. The first of these documentaries, Henry Kissinger: On the Record, broadcast on January 13, 1978, dealt principally with the growing power of the communist parties in Western Europe. As a primetime television news production, the ninety-minute show in many ways was most remarkable for what it might have been expected to contain, but did not. NBC News understandably has not revealed the extent of Kissinger's control over the content of the documentary. Those familiar with reports of his touchiness and vanity could guess that he did not leave himself to the tender mercies of NBC journalists. And the network perhaps thought that, after paying a great deal for the services of a star, it would be rude and imprudent to discomfit him. That special made an impressive platform or pedestal for Henry Kissinger. For NBC News, it turned out to be an expensive ninety-minutes of primetime, not just in money, but also in compromising its own journalistic standards of candor and fairness.


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