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on June 22, 2012
David Westin had been a partner in a major Washington-based law firm, ABC Network general counsel and then network head and then volunteered to "step down" a notch and replace the legendary Roone Arledge as President of ABC News, the latter of which ran for a tumultuous 14-year time frame that began in 1997. Most books that are written by former television executives and on-air talent are used to "get even" with many perceived and real enemies and provide an otherwise hard-to-get behind-the-scenes look at the people we hardly know. Caution: Do not read this book if that is your reason to read Westin's ABC News memoirs (there is virtually little written about his stint as ABC Network President). In fact, I think the primary audience would be those young individuals still in journalism school interested in entering the extremely competitive field of broadcast journalism.

My main problem with the book is that there is little here that would suggest that Westin was even an ABC insider for so many years since so much of what he writes could have been googled long before Exit Interview was published. More troublesome, there is a tremendous amount of redundancy. While Westin thanks so many people in the Acknowledgments section at the end for their help in the editing process, one can only tremble at what the unedited version of Exit Interview looked like.

Having said all of this--and after having read each and every word in this book--there are two chapters that are really worth reading. The first is Chapter 7, "The Swift Boat Saga: Is Balance Overrated?" Westin takes the time to debunk some of the Swift Boat charges against Senator John Kerry during Kerry's 2004 presidential run and underscores the fact that not every issue has two sides, a concept that many journalists don't appreciate. Sometimes, the only side is the truth.

The other chapter that is unbelievably moving is Chapter 8, "Is Any News Report Worth Dying For? The Bob Woodruff Story." In this chapter, Westin does break form and gives us a good tick-tock of the early days of the events surrounding Woodruff's brain injuries and then summarizes the recovery process. Bob Woodruff is one brave man, right from the Dan Rather school. However, there is one section of this chapter (page 191) which symbolizes, unfortunately, the political acrobatics necessitated by being the President of a network news division. When Bob Woodruff was finally transferred from Iraq and Germany to the U.S. (to the military hospital in Besthesda), Bob's wife, Lee, asked David whether he wanted to visit with Bob for what would have been David's first time. David declined because he "wanted Lee to be able to tell everyone else at ABC News that I hadn't been to his room, so the fact that they were kept away wasn't meant as disrepect." I bring this up because almost every page of this book underscores how political David had to be in all circumstances to be an ABC News President survivor.

There is so much that I would have liked to have learned about the ABC network and ABC news for the years that Westin was a key executive. Unfortunately, we will have to wait to get the book that many of us would have liked to have read.
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on January 5, 2013
The book is brief and does a good job of giving context for what we see as the final product. Yet at times it felt like I was stuck at a dinner party where Westin had used up too much of his guests' time droning on about his personal success in the face of adversity, his tough mettle when tested, the gut-wrenching decisions only a fearless yet humble leader can make, and on and on... However if you can get over the chest thumping and want to learn something new about how television works, there are plenty of good insights backed by news events we all remember.
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on January 28, 2013
While Westin's stewardship at ABC covered an interesting time in broadcast journalism, his book is disappointingly more about him than the trends and events he oversaw. So much more "news" than he covers in this self-absorbed recount.
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on September 2, 2012
As a book writer, David Westin makes a great TV network executive. His memoir of his 12 years running ABC News is filled with repetition. One of his fave clauses: "As I said earlier....." Really, this is more of a meditation on the state of TV journalism, as Weston, a corporate lawyer, muses at length on some of the many dilemmas faced by professional journalists today. Most of this is old-hat to journalists, but Westin marvels because it was really not his background. Most of his chapters are pretty boring, except the one on the wounding of Bob Woodruff in Iraq, and his recollections of 9/11. He had to preside over the dismantling of the news operation because of budget cuts, so we hear how he handled that, though we don't much care. You won't learn a lot from this, but it makes for a harmless read if you are a fan of inside TV memoirs.
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on October 6, 2012
Interesting incite into running a major news organization through the turbulent times from the death of Lady Diana to the new media and the internet and bloggers. Times have changed, and in some ways reflects the degradation of the U.S. economy. The 1990's are gone and so are the viewing habits of the pre cable news and internet populous. Well worth reading.
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on July 24, 2012
Just beginning to read this. About 40 pages into it and can't put it down. Think its gonna be great ! Wayno
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on February 19, 2013
Ultimately, the book was a huge disappointment. Did not reveal anything new,
nor did it dive into the really major issues faced today.
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