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Apr 26, 2020

Tom Johnson, retired president of CNN, former publisher at the Los Angeles Times, and close aide to President Lyndon B. Johnson makes some pointed observations about how news outlets are covering President Trump – and Coronavirus.

In this interview, he opens up about his 60+ year career as a journalist and public servant. He shares historic moments, the highs, and the lows.

He also discusses losing his job at the LA Times, which sent him into a deep depression.  Now, looking forward, Tom offers hope and wisdom to a new generation of journalists. 

Notable Time Codes: 

  • 01:21 Tom's career story begins
  • 10:20 First time Tom met LBJ
  • 18:10 Breaking his mentor’s heart & choosing his path 
  • 33:30 LA Times: Tom reveals one of his most controversial decisions that may have cost him his job – which caused him to enter a deep depression. 
  • 38:11 The lesson out of that was "never let your position, your title become so important to you that if it's taken away, that you're just an empty shell of yourself." - Tom Johnson 
  • 51:45 CNN’s Ted Turner offer comes in 
  • 58:43 CORONAVIRUS & world response 
  • 01:15: 44 Tom's advice to Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg
  • 01:23:48 Tom’s shares life lessons in journalism (for up-and-coming journalists) 

1. Get it right

2. Tell the truth

3. Be fair 

4. Never compromise on your principles

5. Admit mistakes when you make them and publish the correction in the same location

6. Never use your power as a journalist irresponsibly

7. Strive for excellence

8. Be a watchdog – not a lap dog, not an attack dog, but a watchdog

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