cover image Reporting Live

Reporting Live

Lesley Stahl / Author, Leslie Stahl / Author Simon & Schuster

By the start of this gripping newswoman's autobiography, the needle has already dropped. On the cusp of turning 30 in the early 1970s, Stahl is broadcasting for Channel 5 in Boston and is stuck in a terrible relationship. The problem is solved when CBS News hires her as a cub reporter in its Washington Bureau. Stahl is in the thick of it by page 18, covering Watergate and building herself into a real ""kick down the doors reporter"" (though how she kicks down those doors while wearing high heels and a blonde bouffant is anyone's guess). In her personal life, she is mired in a love-hate relationship with her mother; she dates Bob Dole and Bob Woodward and eventually marries writer Aaron Latham. All the while she steadily moves up the ladder at CBS, even though the industry has yet to give women broadcast journalists equal treatment. Stahl relates history as it unfolds, allowing readers to judge whether Carter's natural gifts served him ill or well; whether Reagan was fully in charge of the country; and whether Bush really helped end the Cold War or tried to keep it alive by supporting communist strongmen. While Stahl offers both an unstinting behind-the-scenes look at the nation's one-time premier news organization and a wealth of personal anecdotes, she never quite explains what drives her to contend with the sexism, the network politics and the strain on her family life that the job demands. Still, she assesses herself as unflinchingly as the political figures she's covered (admitting, for instance, that she was too slow to attend, or react, to her husband's crippling depression). For better or worse, the Stahl readers meet in this fast-paced autobiography isn't too far from the one they see on TV. Perhaps that's what the reporter intended. (Jan.)