The below published in the New York Times February 3, 2015. Sadly Sandy didn’t live to follow the Brian Williams story. He would have loved it and if he were in charge, he would have fired him on the spot.
Sandy Socolow, CBS Newsman During Heady Days, Dies at 86
Sandy Socolow, a longtime executive at CBS News who worked closely with Walter Cronkite and helped shape television coverage of the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal, died on Saturday in Manhattan. He was 86.
The cause was complications of cancer, his sons, Michael and Jonathan, said.
Mr. Socolow worked for CBS almost without interruption from the mid-1950s until 1988. He arrived as a writer for the morning news and shortly thereafter began working with Cronkite, first on a midday news program and later on “Eyewitness to History,” a series of news specials that evolved into a weekly prime-time half-hour that lasted until the “CBS Evening News,” with Cronkite in the anchor seat, expanded to 30 minutes, from 15, in 1963.
For several years Mr. Socolow was a co-producer of the “Evening News,” in charge of, among other things, Vietnam coverage; according to CBS, he was the New York segment producer of the shocking 1965 report by Morley Safer that showed American Marines setting fire to Cam Ne, a village near Da Nang, and that helped awaken Americans to the escalating calamity of the war. Mr. Socolow produced Cronkite’s coverage of the moon landing in 1969. In 1971 he hired the program’s first female producer, Linda Mason.
He became vice president, deputy news director and executive editor of CBS News in New York, and in 1972 was involved in one of the news division’s most controversial episodes. Less than two weeks before the presidential election, the “Evening News” broadcast Cronkite’s two-part summation of the unfolding Watergate story, largely following the reporting in The Washington Post by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward.
The first installment, which detailed the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington and a dirty tricks campaign orchestrated by the committee to re-elect President Richard M. Nixon, appeared on Friday, Oct. 27, absorbing an extraordinary 14 minutes of the 22 minutes or so devoted to the news.
The Nixon White House put pressure on CBS corporate executives to cancel the second installment of the report, which was to focus on the financing of the illicit doings and on the ways figures involved in the Watergate scandal were connected to the president.
According to an account in David Halberstam’s 1979 book, “The Powers That Be,” William S. Paley, the chairman of CBS, encouraged Richard S. Salant, the president of CBS News, not to show the second segment. But Mr. Salant, working with Mr. Socolow and others, merely cut it back to eight minutes, just over half its original length, and it was broadcast on Tuesday, Oct. 31.
Mr. Socolow, who was afraid he would lose his job for defying Mr. Paley, according to Mr. Halberstam, was the one charged with doing the cutting, a thankless task resulting in what Daniel Schorr, who wrote the report, recalled in a memoir as “a nasty argument,” not to mention bitter feelings that the network had caved in and betrayed its principles.
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The CBS report nonetheless had a significant impact, not least because it gave the Watergate story the imprimatur of the nation’s most authoritative newsman, Walter Cronkite. Less than two years after Nixon was resoundingly re-elected, the Watergate scandal forced his resignation.
“The fact that Cronkite did Watergate at all (let alone at that length) gave the story a kind of blessing, which is exactly what we needed — and exactly what The Washington Post lacked,” Ben Bradlee, the editor of The Post during the scandal, wrote in Newsweek after Cronkite died in 2009. “It was a political year, and everyone was saying, ‘Well, it’s just politics, and here’s The Post trying to screw Nixon.’ We were the second-biggest newspaper in the country trying to scramble for a good story — whereas Cronkite was the reigning dean of television journalists. When he did the Watergate story, everyone said, ‘My God, Cronkite’s with them.’ ”
Mr. Socolow was born in the Bronx on Nov. 11, 1928. When he was very young his family moved to North Franklin, Conn., where his immigrant parents — Adolfo Socolovsky, an Argentine who had trained as a classical violinist, and the former Sarah Mindich, a Ukrainian — tried their hand at dairy farming.
They disagreed about what to name their son; his father called him Saint, the name that appears on his birth certificate. Registering her son for school, however, his mother called him Sanford, which is how news organizations often referred to him. Mr. Socolow rarely used either name, however; he was always known as Sandy, for his hair color as a baby.
The dairy farm experiment lasted until Sandy was 10, and the family returned to New York, where he attended Stuyvesant High School and worked for its newspaper. A family friend, the business executive and former ambassador Carl Spielvogel, said in an interview that Mr. Socolow had told him that that was where the journalism bug bit him.
He attended Baruch College and later City College of New York, where he studied history and was a campus correspondent for The New York Times.
He became a copy boy at The Times and served in the Army, working in a broadcasting unit in Japan during the Korean War. Afterward he worked in the Tokyo bureau of the International News Service, a Hearst news agency, which later merged with United Press to become United Press International.
Mr. Socolow married Anne Krulewitch in 1960; they divorced in 1977. In addition to his sons, he is survived by a daughter, Elisabeth Socolow; a brother, Alfred; and four grandchildren.
In 1974, Mr. Socolow moved to Washington, where he oversaw CBS’s coverage of Nixon’s resignation and the trials of the Watergate conspirators. He returned to New York in 1978 as executive producer of the “CBS Evening News With Walter Cronkite” and briefly maintained control over the program after Dan Rather succeeded Cronkite in 1981. Mr. Socolow was later London bureau chief and a producer for “60 Minutes.”
After leaving CBS in 1988, Mr. Socolow worked for the Christian Science Monitor program “World Monitor” and produced programs for the Discovery Channel and the Public Broadcasting Service.
In a 2008 interview with the Archive of American Television, Mr. Socolow was asked what advice he could offer to an aspiring news producer.
“If you hear of a story, especially a foreign story that has an American quotient to it, in a misbegotten place — I’m not talking about Rome, Paris, London,” he said, instead naming as examples Vietnam in the 1960s and Central America during the early years of the Reagan administration, before picking up the thread: “Just get there as fast as you can.”