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The Insider: Q&A With Diane Sawyer

May 11, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Rumors have been swirling about what “Good Morning America” co-anchor Diane Sawyer wants to do, careerwise. She has been known to tell people that unless they’ve talked to her husband of 20 years, Oscar-winning director Mike Nichols, they can’t know what she’s thinking.
She had been sidelined the day before by laryngitis, but she was back on the job Friday, doing “GMA” and then tracking an upcoming project, and then talking to The Insider about her primary—and often grueling—assignment, which was supposed to be “temporary” when she took it in January 1999.
Her voice was very scratchy, but she said, “It’s going to get better over the weekend. It’s not because of things I did. It’s just a cold. It’s going to wind its way out. I’m going to spend my weekend with a pad of paper and holding up signs.”
The Insider: Where do things stand with your commitment to “Good Morning America” and what you want to do at ABC News?
Diane Sawyer: I love “Good Morning America” and I am not talking to anybody about doing anything except “Good Morning America” and increasing, if I can, some of my specials in prime time. That’s what we’re talking about. If I can find enough vitamins, watch out.
The Insider: You’ve juggled both ends of the clock for some time. Do you have a number of prime-time specials, which can get complicated, that you think you can do?
Ms. Sawyer: I can’t operate from a number, because some of them take a long time, some of them take a short time. I don’t like the pressure of having to fulfill a number. Some of them we may decide not to do halfway in. I think we should always have that option—that’s an important journalistic option.
The Insider: If you could build a perfect schedule, what’s the one thing about your day that you would change?
Ms. Sawyer: I would change the alarm going off at 3:45 a.m., but I suspect that if I didn’t do it I would miss those night-time hours in the morning, the chance to drive into Times Square and watch the world wake up, so I’m suspicious of my own wishes on that score. Probably it would be that I could find a way to talk myself into exercising and not use the excuse of having gotten up so early. That is the truth. The first thing that goes are the things that you should do, but they’re hard to do.
The Insider: Size-wise, you don’t need to exercise.
Ms. Sawyer: But strength-wise. I’m 62 and you’ve got to keep it up. I look at my mom, who bounds up and down stairs, and she’s 88. She’s up and down stairs and she’s leaning over and picking things up and out-walking me at the mall, and I think to myself, “She’s done this every day.” She gets up roughly when I do, except she gets up and walks around and works out. At that age. She’s a real model on that score.
The Insider: Can you envision yourself, at this point in your career and your life, working for anyone but ABC?
Ms. Sawyer: I don’t envision anything in any direction except the next—the time that I know, and the time that I know is loving “GMA,” loving it completely, and loving the work I am doing here at night. That’s the joy of it. I’m the first one to look back and be astonished at nine years. Who would have thought you could stay in love with something so physically taxing for nine years, but I have.
The Insider: Speaking of looking back, it’s been a week in which Barbara Walters’ memoir has made headlines screaming from every tabloid show and cover. Can you envision writing a memoir?
Ms. Sawyer: No.
The Insider: Can you envision having to promote a memoir?
Ms. Sawyer: Ummmm, no. But I don’t keep a diary. I don’t tend to assemble things. I also don’t have Barbara’s amazing history. I think she has written such a beautiful and courageous book, because she and I had a long lunch about her book and what she was doing, and I know that she did it in part because she thought, “Here all these years, people have let me into their real lives, but I can’t write a book that isn’t about my real life.” I think she wanted to give that as a kind of gift, especially to women who thought, “Well, boy didn’t she have it easy.”
The Insider: People have purported to know aspects of your real life and you have talked about your real life, like, you know, banging into trees riding the bicycle in Central Park, and so forth. But when one is famous, how different can their real life be from what we think we know?
Ms. Sawyer: Oh, I think it can be very different. None of us, none of us, knows the other person’s true insecurities. None of us knows the other person’s secret suffering—and how can you live a life and not have it? How can you live life without doubt, self-doubt?
The Insider: If you were talking to a shrink, and that’s a hypothetical, not an assumption, would you say you have more than your share of those things than you know in your heart of hearts that you should? And this isn’t about trying to be really good at what you do.
Ms. Sawyer: Yes, I would, and I think anyone who knows me would say that. At the same time, don’t we all hate the fact that that’s also the pathway to growth and change at any and every age? That’s how you learn. That’s how you learn something new. I really believe that.
The Insider: Can’t that be like an alcoholic comedian saying, “I wouldn’t be funny if I were sober”?
Ms. Sawyer: Now, let’s get it in perspective. It’s not that low, and I married a comedian. I think I have an equal and opposite and far greater level of absolute joy and a lot of confidence. I’m just saying that I think sometimes that we look at it as our flaw, when in fact it’s our fuel.
The Insider: When you feel you owe someone an apology, what does it usually tend to be about?
Ms. Sawyer: Impatience. Well, let’s think. I suppose that you didn’t say things you wanted the way you wanted to say them, or meant to say them. Isn’t that the most frequent for everybody?
The Insider: That was a parachute harness I was looking at at the end of the show [Wednesday, when Ms. Sawyer held up a clue to her “American Wonders” assignment, which will be seen this week], wasn’t it?
Ms. Sawyer: Maybe it could also be [a parachute harness]. It may be the same kind [of harness].
The Insider: There’s a well-perfected tease.
Ms. Sawyer: Good. Good, good, good.

36 Comments

  1. This letter is for Diane Sawyer,
    Please help me if you can since I feel that my issues show a major failing of our Pulbic Assistance Programs.
    I am 59 years old and have breast cancer and am having “other issues” that have hindered my recovery.
    This is a long story and I fear that to go into too much detail will just get this letter sent directly to the trash so I will do my best to keep it short.
    I fell off a ladder at home last August. I did have back issues after the fall, and was off work. While I was off work I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.
    Treatment and therapy for the back injury were put on hold while I fought the cancer. I have just completed my second and hopefully my final round of Chemotherapy, and am now ready to complete my therapy for my back.
    My problem is that while I was off work, I lost my health benefits. To continue my health insurance I had to pay COBRA rates.
    I have worked all of my adult life and have paid for private long term disibility insurance which I am now drawing. However, my COBRA payments take up much of my income.
    I have applied for Social Security Disibility in order to get Medicare to help cover my health insurance. Social Security has denied me all benefits at this time.
    They say that my disibility is not “perminent.”
    I am raising my 2 grandsons and at this time my husband is not employed.
    I am not able to obtain any benefits for the boys. Since we own property, we are not able to get any financial assistance from any government or state agencies.
    We are now living on our “retirement” savings and are in need of some help.
    I worked most of my adult life as a nurse, and have seen people on disibility for “obesity” and I cannot get any assistance after paying the system for all these years.

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