The Insider

Apr 7, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Phil Scheffler, who has been Don Hewitt’s right-hand man for 23 of the 52 years he has worked at CBS News, is making good on his expectation that he would retire before Mr. Hewitt. Mr. Hewitt will turn over 60 Minutes to 60 Minutes II creator Jeff Fager at the end of the 2003-04 season. Mr. Scheffler, who as executive editor of 60 Minutes has made all the moving parts of the newsmagazine move smoothly, has decided to stop clocking in every day at the end of this season and become a consultant for the following season.
The move, which has been in the works for some time, means senior producer Josh Howard, who has worked at 60 for some 14 years, becomes executive editor.
Mr. Scheffler was first hired by Mr. Hewitt, then the director and producer of Douglas Edwards and the News, in 1951 as a copy boy. He rose quickly to street reporter (first assignment: Ask the man on the street whether WWII hero Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower should get into politics and run for president) and then human TelePrompTer. Because Mr. Hewitt wanted Mr. Douglas to look at the camera, not the script on his desk, Mr. Scheffler printed the script on big heavy cards and moved them up, one line at a time, next to the lens. Sore arms being the mother of invention, Mr. Scheffler soon figured out how to use a large-type typewriter and extra-wide adding machine paper.
That’s a story right out of Mr. Scheffler’s official bio (which reflects a lot of CBS News history), but The Insider loves it.
NBC Votes for Elizabeth Wilner
NBC News is about to announce what political junkies in Washington’s media circles already know: Elizabeth Wilner, who gave The Note, ABC News’ daily political digest, the “write” touch, is the new political director for NBC News.
She had been deputy political director for five years at ABC News, where she produced The Note with political director Mark Halperin and field producer Marc Ambinder, among other duties. The Note launched early in 2002 as a morning political briefing and quickly became “must” reading-and Web linking-for more than 15,000 people. And not just because it’s free, but because it’s also smart.
Fresh out of Medill School of Journalism in 1992, Ms. Wilner became managing editor of The Cook Political Report, where she spent five years. She’ll take charge of all aspects of NBC’s political coverage, from bookings to analysis.
NBC Washington bureau chief Tim Russert says Ms. Wilner “lives and breathes politics and political reporting.” The Insider would never argue with Mr. Russert.