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Ed Bradley, a TV Journalism Favorite, Dies

(Soundbite of show, “60 Minutes”)

Mr. ED BRADLEY (CBS News): I'm Ed Bradley.

Mr. STEVE KROFT (CBS News): I'm Steve Kroft.

Ms. LESLIE STAHL (CBS News): I'm Leslie Stahl.

Mr. MORLEY SAFER (CBS News): I'm Morley Safer.

Mr. SCOTT PELLEY (CBS News): I'm Scott Pelley. Those stories and Andy Rooney tonight, on 60 Minutes.

(Soundbite of ticking clock)

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Ed Bradley, the 60 Minutes correspondent and one of the most visible black journalists in America, has died. He was 65.

Bradley joined CBS News in 1971 as a stringer in Paris. He spent a couple years in the network's Saigon bureau, in 1975 covered the fall of Cambodia and Vietnam. His career at 60 Minutes spanned a quarter century. Over the years he was awarded 19 Emmys for stories like his interview with Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVey, his hour on sex abuse in the Catholic Church and his report on the reopening of the Emmett Till murder case.

Mr. BRADLEY: I have some questions I'd like to ask her about Emmett Till. Will she come out and talk to us?

Unidentified Man: (Unintelligible)

Mr. BRADLEY: Tell me again.

Unidentified Man: Won't.

Mr. BRADLEY: She won't?

Unidentified Man: No. Goodbye.

Mr. BRADLEY: Goodbye?

Unidentified Man: I said goodbye.

Mr. BRADLEY: Goodbye.

Unidentified Man: Yes, sir.

Mr. BRADLEY: You leaving?

Unidentified Man: No, you are.

NORRIS: Outside of journalism Ed Bradley's passion was jazz. He hosted the public radio program Jazz at Lincoln Center.

(Soundbite of program, “Jazz from Lincoln Center”)

Mr. BRADLEY: Vanessa Rubin and Kevin Mahogany are Singers over Manhattan on this edition of Jazz from Lincoln Center. I'm Ed Bradley.

(Soundbite of music)

NORRIS: And for a generation of black journalists, Bradley was a trail blazer. He was exceedingly private yet he would occasionally make unsolicited calls of encouragement to young black journalists getting started in network news. Hang in there, he'd say. This business needs you.

Today Ed Bradley's colleague, CBS News correspondent Mike Wallace, told me that Bradley's easy manner served him well professionally.

Mr. MIKE WALLACE (CBS News): Ed was comfortable in his own skin and he made people around him comfortable. Look, I was the tough guy who asked all kinds of abrasive and confrontational questions. Ed could do the same damn thing just as effectively, but he didn't come across as a tough guy. He did his homework. He was thoughtful. But somehow the people that he talked with were comfortable talking with him. That was not always necessarily the case with me.

NORRIS: Is there a particular Ed Bradley piece that really captures what he stood for in journalism?

Mr. WALLACE: No, there's no typical Ed Bradley, because he was so versatile. He could do investigations. He could do profiles. He was very good on the air just ad-libbing in political situations, on election nights and things of that nature. He could do it all and he could do it all effectively, and you believed that he knew exactly what he was saying. He could do it all. He really could.

NORRIS: You often heard him laugh in his pieces. He was quite obviously having a good time. I'm thinking of the -

Mr. WALLACE: Oh, yes. No, he did have a good time. He really did. I remember so well when he interviewed Mohammed Ali. He was under the impression that Ali was sicker and less alert than he thought, and so when Bradley asked him some questions at which Mohammed Ali took, it was phony, but he took offense ostensibly, when Bradley understood that he was being put on by Ali, he enjoyed every bit as much as the champion did.

NORRIS: It's a wonderful shot. He played possum with him.

Mr. WALLACE: Yes. That's exactly what he did. He played possum with him.

NORRIS: I heard that despite Ed Bradley's stature, despite the fact that he's so well known, that at the end of the day, when he went down on the street in New York City, tried to hail a cab, he couldn't find one. You would sometimes help him out?

Mr. WALLACE: Well, occasionally. Occasionally that was true, because he was black. There was a time when some cab drivers were not anxious to pick up black fares because they figured they'd be taking them to conceivably dangerous territory. But that's not been true for a long, long time and after awhile in any case, Ed was making so much money that he could call a private car to come and pick him up.

NORRIS: Ed Bradley was the first television reporter of great national stature to wear an earring on the air. Did he take any guff about that when he first did that?

Mr. WALLACE: There was considerable talk in the shop when he showed up wearing the earring. I couldn't believe it, but then I'm an old fashioned person who is a quarter century older than Ed. He was able to bring it off and, of course, little by little I think people began to wear the earring because Bradley was wearing the earring.

NORRIS: He had a high cool quotient?

Mr. WALLACE: Yes, he did. Yes, he did.

NORRIS: Mike Wallace, thanks so much for your time. All the best to you and our condolences on the loss of your colleague and your friend. Thanks so much.

Mr. WALLACE: Thanks a lot.

NORRIS: That's Mike Wallace of CBS News remembering 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley. Bradley died today of complications from leukemia. He was 65. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.