NEW YORK — NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw was nettled by ABC News President Roone Arledge's suggestions that NBC News publicizes itself too much and that its recent broadcasts from China were an example. So he fired back Monday.
"I'm stunned, frankly," he said when a reporter quoted comments that Arledge made in interviews last week after a press conference held for visiting TV reporters.
"I think that's a cheap shot, and you can quote me on that," Brokaw told a press conference for the same reporters, who are winding up a three-network round of screenings and interviews here.
He defended last month's weeklong China trip by his "NBC Nightly News" program, the "Today" show and the new Sunday "Today" as journalistically worthwhile.
Although Brokaw said he is "very fond" of Arledge and there is too much "internecine warfare" between the networks, he nonetheless needled the promotion-minded ABC News chief by saying: "For ABC to say that one of the other networks is too promotion-minded strikes me as passing strange."
It was one of the livelier moments at the press powwow where Brokaw, commentator John Chancellor, and political correspondent Ken Bode also discussed political coverage--and how far reporters today can or should go in reporting on the personal lives of presidential candidates.
The session also touched on NBC's coming two-hour, prime-time Dec. 1 telecast from Washington in which, the network says, all announced GOP and Democratic presidential candidates have agreed to debate the issues.
Brokaw was asked about a report in last week's TV Guide magazine that, because a power vacuum of sorts at NBC News, he now in effect runs the division.
With NBC News president Larry Grossman in the room, watching with great interest, Brokaw denied that he is the boss.
He didn't know how the TV Guide story got started, he said, adding: "Larry Grossman is the president of NBC News. He's my boss, Ken's boss, John's boss and the boss of us all."
(Chancellor got a laugh from the audience when, after being asked to whom he reports, puckishly replied, "Ralph Mann." Mann is his agent.)
Directors Guild of America members at CBS, ABC and NBC have ratified the three-year contracts the networks offered them, the guild said Monday. The guild had made no recommendations on the contracts.
At NBC, where another union's strike ended Saturday after 17 weeks, guild members voted 94-20 to ratify their contract. The ABC contract passed by an 83-46 margin, while the CBS offer was approved 68-33.
A guild spokesman said no final tally is yet available for the vote of about 500 free-lance directors who have been voting on contracts offered them by the networks.
All the pacts are retroactive to July 1 and expire on June 30, 1990. New contracts for low-budget theatrical films and commercials also were ratified by an overwhelming majority, the guild said.