News & Politics

Roger Mudd and Carol Joynt: “Oil and Water”

An excerpt from former CBS newsman Roger Mudd’s new book, The Place to Be: Washington, CBS, and the Glory Days of Television News.

“Then in the summer of 1973, as I began my summer-long substitution for Cronkite, I ran into a serious problem with one of the show’s new writers. She was Carol Ross, a Time magazine reporter, who had impressed Cronkite and was hired late in 1972. She says I was ‘stern, serious, somewhat aloof . . . and most people grumbled. They respected you but the connection was not warm and fuzzy.’

“We were ‘oil and water’ from the beginning, she says. . . .

“With the 6:29 pm deadline always getting closer, I would set aside her copy and write my own version, in my own voice. There was no time to argue; there was enough tension already. She tried but, she says, ‘I could not get your voice in my head.’

“Finally I complained to [CBS bureau chief Sandy] Socolow and asked that Ross be taken off the show during my substitutions. That night Ross called Cronkite at his summer home on Martha’s Vineyard to tell him what I had done. She says Cronkite told her, ‘Roger is doing this just to get at me.’ Ross says she sobbed. ‘Do you want me to get you back on the show? I can talk to Socolow,’ Cronkite offered. Ross told him, ‘No. Roger doesn’t want me. So be it.’

“Carol Ross, now Carol Joynt and the owner of a very popular restaurant in Georgetown [Nathan’s], returned later from time to time as one of my writers, but the episode remained with Cronkite as proof of my contentiousness.”

For an email exchange between Joynt and Mudd about the above, click here.