Ted Koppel Reveals ‘The only time in more than 50 years that I’ve ever killed a story’

Oct 10, 2012  •  Post A Comment

Ted Koppel has revealed the only time in his career as a journalist that he decided not to air a story, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Koppel spoke to THR yesterday, Oct. 9, 2012, at an event promoting the release of Ben Affleck’s new movie "Argo," which is about the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979-1980.

It was during this crisis that Koppel, who was then the Diplomatic Correspondent for ABC News, gained national attention.

ABC put on a M-F late-night program about the hostage crisis that later turned into "Nightline."

During the hostage crisis, Koppel and some other journalists had found out that "six American workers who had escaped the embassy during the raid were hiding out at the home of the Canadian Ambassador," THR reports.

Koppel then tells THR, " ‘I got a call from the Secretary of State, saying, ‘I understand that you’re going to put this story on the air tonight. And I can’t tell you not to do it, but I would ask you not to, because it seems to us inevitable that if you put it on the air, that the Canadian Embassy would probably be taken, and that the Americans that escaped from the US Embassy would probably be killed.’ "

"Ultimately, [Koppel] decided not to go with the report. ‘The only time in more than 50 years that I’ve ever killed a story,’ he said."


  1. Mr. Koppel, Mr. Morrow would likely have done the same thing in deference to the ultimate safety of the escaped hostages and the Canadians in residence. You’re a rare gem among the smooth, polished stones of network anchors today.

  2. I will add my two cents worth of agreement with NY GM, above.
    Your sense of journalism in 1980 was noticed by many of us, where I was working, at CBS News-LA on the Western Edition of Cronkite.
    My regret was that you were at ABC and not with us.
    In my radio news reporting days, I was sometimes asked to not report, or, hold a story for someone’s safety.
    It’s an important consideration. If, or when, confronted with same, one’s sense of responsibility to the community-at-large should take presidence.
    It would seem today that some short-sighted journalists often decide to wrecklessly “scoop” a story and tell all.
    That isn’t reporting, that’s ego and ambition mixed together in what often boils over into something lethal.
    Thank you for many years of responsible journalism.
    I still would like to see you at 11:30 every night, though I know you are, no doubt, glad to be finished with that.
    Peter Bright

  3. Pretty sure today’s breed of “journalists” would run with the story. Can you imagine Nikki Finke, or Breitbart, or Fox News holding a story like this? I can’t. With the corporate rush to be first getting much higher priority than the need to be accurate, the six diplomats would be outed. No question.

  4. Nikki Finke, Breitbart and I would argue, the ‘people’ at Fox News aren’t journalists.
    Right wing trolls like Breitbart may style themselves as journalists, but they most definitely are not. They’re fools with megaphones. Not the same thing. They dishonor the title.

  5. TV journalism (and most journalism in general) is dead. I got into an argument recently with a college student in one of the local electronic journalism programs about the difference between reporting and opinion – he insisted that it was his DUTY as a reporter to report stories filtered through his own opinion, not as an impartial reporter relaying FACTS. What’s worse is that the lunkhead that was ‘teaching’ his course was preaching this approach. When I asked about the instructor’s credentials I was completely unsurprised to discover that he was a former FOX reporter and still did some freelance for them locally. Now that they’ve infected the schools, we’re officially screwed.

  6. TO: akaKJB
    I am not surprised to read your note.
    I am concerned and saddened by it at the same time.
    Without true facts and unbiased sources for information, a Free Society will wither-on-the-vine.
    We have our work cut out for us.
    I am up to the challenge.
    Peter Bright

  7. Wow. One guy does the moral thing and now let’s blame Fox for all the bad things in news? Ted Koppel was on the Bill O’Reilly show calling Fox a right leaning organization which put Bill completely in shock. He asked if Ted had seen any of the daytime anchors/hosts which Ted admitted he hadn’t. Bill is a registered Independent, Hannity is a conservative, and Greta is most likely a Democrat. Then you have Stosell, a Libertarian, Shepard Smith, a Liberal as well as several others. Whomever is host, they have guests have opposing views. The fact that it is fair and balanced (and not afraid) makes it the most watched cable news shows. Which makes Liberals afraid as people are catching on to them. If Liberal leaning news media were so righteous, why don’t they attract bigger audiences? Why have so many Liberal radio talk shows gone under? It’s about time you faced reality – people are starting to not believe you any more. Calling the Republican candidates liars? Seriously, you’ve hit the bottom of the barrel. No ideas, nothing to stand on or for. You prey on the ignorant. Maybe an ex-Fox reporter is teaching a course – probably because he didn’t meet the journalism standards of Fox. (those who can – do. those who can’t – teach.) Get your heads out and smell the future. The country was founded by people who want to work and improve their lives. They are not trying to break into our country for the benefits the government can give them for not doing anything.Obama took Kennedy’s words and reversed them.

  8. So we’ve got people bashing a dead man (Breitbart) and a more conservative network but no mention of the fact that the NY Times has regularly run sensitive classified information that may have resulted in the deaths of many?
    Mr. Koppel made the right move but reporters today would feel they not only have to run such a story, but would also run lengthy reports with Google Maps data on the embassy, analysis of the weak points of the embassy’s security, and exclusive interviews with undisclosed studio types stating the project was actually just “in development.”

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