‘I Try To Move World To Help’

Albuquerque Journal - Parade - - NEWS -

INCE TAK­ING OVER AT ABC World News in De­cem­ber, Diane Sawyer has made a point of not be­ing an­chored to her desk. She has trav­eled to Copen­hagen for a con­tentious in­ter­view with Iran’s pres­i­dent, Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad; to Wash­ing­ton, D.C., to in­ter­view Pres­i­dent Obama; and to Afghanistan to file first­hand re­ports from the front. While she was in Afghanistan, the earth­quake in Haiti rocked the world, and she flew straight there to cover it.

“You have to be­lieve your first job is to be a pow­er­ful wit­ness,” she says. “I say pow­er­ful in the sense that there are 500 peo­ple in front of you who need wa­ter, and all you want to do is drop ev­ery­thing and go get them wa­ter. But you have to re­mem­ber your job is to help get wa­ter for 5 mil­lion peo­ple—for your heart will soon break if you don’t be­lieve that you can do some­thing for ev­ery­body. You say to your­self, ‘I will turn your pain into pur­pose. I will try to turn your pain into a ful­crum that moves the world to help.’ ”

Sawyer, 64, is now back and ac­tu­ally sit­ting be­hind her clut­tered of­fice desk at ABC. Her 16 Em­mys hap­haz­ardly ar­ranged around the shelves are out­num­bered by the myr­iad pic­tures of her fam­ily and friends. She’s not the coolly glam­orous blonde we see on TV. With her red­framed glasses, jeans, and fa­vorite pair of sweat socks—and not a speck of makeup— she has the book­ish look of the Welles­ley Col­lege stu­dent she once was. “There’s the other me hang­ing on the door,” she says, laugh­ing and point­ing to­ward the Anne Tay­lor suit await­ing her on­screen trans­for­ma­tion later in the day.

Sawyer’s life has been so re­mark­able that if it hadn’t been her own, she might have had to re­port on it. She was raised a de­vout Methodist in Louisville, Ky., by con­ser­va­tive Repub­li­can par­ents. Her fa­ther was a cam­paign man­ager be­fore be­com­ing a lo­cal judge. “He was killed in an au­to­mo­bile ac­ci­dent when I was… hmmm…22 or 23,” she says in a very soft voice. “It’s odd, I’ve never thought of his ac­ci­dent in terms of my own age. I’ve only thought of it in terms of the sud­den­ness of get­ting that call.”

A for­mer Amer­ica’s Ju­nior Miss, Sawyer worked at the Louisville TV sta­tion WLKY as a re­porter and “weather girl” un­til, through her fa­ther’s po­lit­i­cal con­nec­tions, she left to work as an aide in the Nixon White House and then later to work closely with the disgraced Pres­i­dent on his mem­oirs. Why did she stay with him? Was it out of loy­alty?

“I had a sense of duty,” she says. “You don’t get to choose just be­ing there in the cel­e­brated times and then walk away when some­one is liv­ing in de­feat— no mat­ter how they got there, how pun­ish­ing it was, and how bruis­ing it was for Amer­i­can pol­i­tics. I just don’t think that’s the per­son I can be.”

In 1978, Sawyer was hired at CBS and in 1984 be­came the first fe­male cor­re­spon­dent on 60 Min­utes. In 1989, she left for ABC’s Prime Time Live and 20/20 be­fore land­ing the job as co-host of Good Morn­ing Amer­ica in 1999. Now Sawyer is the face of the net­work’s news divi­sion. “I have to go to where there are things I want to learn,” she says. “It’s about the quest. I’ve said be­fore that if there were a re­hab for cu­rios­ity I’d be in it. I prom­ise you, I wake up ev­ery sin­gle day and I have 30 things I want to know be­fore break­fast. Which is the op­po­site of what my hus­band does,” she says, men­tion­ing Mike Ni­chols, the leg­endary 78-year-old film di­rec­tor to whom she has been mar­ried for al­most 22 years. “He wakes up in the midst of the creative dream he’s al­ways dream­ing—I want to learn the facts.”

Both Sawyer and Ni­chols are in pro­fes­sions that re­quire a kind of in­vul­ner­a­bil­ity. Is part of their love for each other find­ing some­one with whom they can be vul­ner­a­ble? She chuck­les. “I’ll put it this way,” she says. “It’s won­der­ful to have a safe place to be a bas-

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