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Q & A / Hattie Kauffman

Consuming Job

August 11, 1991|Susan King

Hattie Kauffman is very busy these days. A frequent contributor to the CBS series "48 Hrs.," Kauffman is the national correspondent for "CBS This Morning."

Last week she began double duty on that series as its new consumer affairs reporter.

Kauffman, a four-time Emmy winner, was a special correspondent for ABC's "Good Morning America" from 1987 to 1990 and has been with "CBS This Morning" for the past year. The Pacific Northwest native previously was a reporter and anchor for six years at KING-TV in Seattle.

Kauffman talked about her new duties as consumer affairs reporter and her life as a correspondent with Susan King.

Will you be covering a wide range of subjects as consumer affairs reporter?

At first glance, when you hear "consumer affairs" it sounds like it is so limited, but it's really not because every one of us is a consumer. As soon as we wake up we make a consumer decision--What am I going to have for breakfast? When you turn on the TV you are being advertised to.

The alarm radio goes off and right away you are a consumer of that radio program and a target of those advertisers. So the stories will cover a very broad range. They won't all be stories about consumer fraud or dangerous products or that sort of thing. There will be simple how-tos, like how do you find an insurance company which is is not going to go under and take your pension.

Have you ever done consumer affairs reporting before?

This is a change. It's different. I am learning more and more about it. I am going to be a very well-educated consumer.

I have been a national correspondent for CBS and a special correspondent for "Good Morning America." But I think it's a change that reflects what is going on out there in American society, especially with the recession and times and money being tight. How you spend that money is something that matters a lot to America. I think, that in a sense, it's an extension of my continuing assignment as national correspondent.

Do you think you will investigate viewers' complaints?

Yes. I think our relationship with the viewers will develop. In fact, it won't take long before we have calls and letters coming in and some of those we will follow up on.

A lot of local stations around the U.S. are eliminating their consumer affairs' segments due to pressure from advertisers. Do you fear companies will apply pressure not to do hard-hitting stories?

No. I was told from the start that CBS is committed to this. Some of it is not just our own investigating of this or that product or fraud or consumer fraud; we will be highlighting the consumer watchdog groups around the country. We also will be following various bills (in Congress) designed to protect consumers.

"CBS This Morning" airs Monday-Friday at 7 a.m. on CBS.

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