Why Ted Koppel joined Brian Williams’ ‘Rock Center’

Associated Press
NBC’s newsmagazine, which debuts Monday, has attracted some big names in addition to anchor Brian Williams. Among the contributors will be Harry Smith, Kate Snow, Ted Koppel, Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, Richard Engel and Natalie Morales. The program will feature taped segments on multiple topics, with Williams as a live anchor so that the show is flexible enough to integrate breaking news. How did the show attract such distinguished talent?

Koppel, the longtime “Nightline” anchor, was recruited by the “Rock Center” executive producer, Rome Hartman. They knew each other from work at BBC America, and Koppel let slip that his first story for NBC is one from Iraq that the BBC decided not to pay for.

He said he felt “Rock Center” would be a serious broadcast, an antidote to much of what is happening in broadcast news, including at his alma mater, “Nightline.”

“Instead of giving the public what it needs to hear, we’re giving the public news that it wants to hear, and one of these days the public is going to turn on us and say, `Why didn’t you tell us about those important things that were going on?’” he said. “They’re not going to like the answer and we’re not going to like the answer. We’re going to say we gave you what you wanted.”

Koppel’s “Nightline” producer Tom Bettag is also joining the show.

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