Bryan Series turns the tables on ‘60 Minutes’ stars


“We never get asked questions,” said Steve Kroft of “60 Minutes” at the Community Center during the afternoon of April 8.

That was about to change.

Both at the Q&A session on campus with students and staff and during the Bryan Series presentation at the War Memorial Auditorium that evening, Kroft and his colleague, Leslie Stahl, spent most of their time in Greensboro answering questions.

The afternoon session on campus allowed community members to ask questions directly. Among other topics, Kroft and Stahl discussed how they found the subjects for their stories and the experience of working for a balanced news show in a market dominated by Fox and MSNBC.

For the evening session, Justin Catanoso, director of journalism and associate professor at Wake Forest University, interviewed Stahl and Kroft. They answered his questions conversationally, swapping stories and interrupting each other on occasion.

“They had a kind of chemistry I wasn’t expecting,” said Catanoso in a phone interview. “As nervous as I was, they were a little more nervous because they are more used to asking the questions than answering.”

The conversation ranged from sharing anecdotes about former producers and colleagues to reminiscing on how they joined “60 Minutes” to discussing stories they had covered.

One of these notable stories was a segment Stahl had done on Guantanamo, which included a walk through the prison while detainees shouted protests through the door.

“It was one of the most emotional moments I’ve had on camera,” said Stahl.

She was struck by the fact that all the guards wore Hazmat suits to protect themselves from the detainees’ throwing feces.

“I felt for the young soldiers who were guarding (the detainees),” said Stahl. “They let us in (to the prison) so we could tell their story.”

Much of the evening was more lighthearted in tone, however, particularly the stories about their “flamboyant” former executive producer Don Hewitt.

“He never walked; he ran,” said Stahl. “(He) never talked; he shouted … (and) you were expected to shout back,” said Stahl.

Both reporters praised his ability to look at their stories with “fresh eyes” and find what they had missed.

“Jeff (Fager, the current producer) is almost as good,” said Kroft, before amending, “He’s as good, actually,” while the audience laughed.

The evening ended with Catanoso commenting that, were this “60 Minutes,” the famous stopwatch would be reaching the top of the hour.

“(By now) the network computer would have cut us off,” said Stahl. “You’d be watching ‘Good Wife.’”

Although few members of the Guilford community attended the evening session, those who did, enjoyed it.

“I like that they went in depth with the content they covered,” said first-year Nathan Lee.

Others appreciated the personal stories the reporters shared.

“For me, I’m more of a storyteller, so hearing people’s stories is important,” said  Milner Hall Director Jake Reardon.

At the end of the evening session, President and Professor of Political Science Kent Chabotar named next year’s Bryan Series presenters. They include, among others, filmmaker Ron Howard, novelist Margaret Atwood and journalist Anderson Cooper.