Television newsmagazines proliferated in the 1990s as the public appetite for reality programming grew. Between 1993 and 1995, Forrest Sawyer hosted 'Day One' (named after the first day of the week - Sunday). Up against 'Murder, She Wrote', 'Day One' gradually found itself being moved on to other nights, first Monday then Thursday. The program featured MTV-style titles and computer-generated graphics. Bill Conti composed the theme music. The show's executive producer made the comment, "The environment has changed because there are more of these shows (some 11 at the time shown on 3 networks) and it makes the competition for stories much more intense." The executive producer of '48 Hours' added, "There's no question that there's a scramble going on, not only between networks, but within networks, to lock down the high-profile stories that these magazines feel will bring in viewers." 

'Day One' was described as more like '20/20' than '60 Minutes', "It's a magazine. It's got all sorts of things." Between August 1990 and March 1991, Forrest was reporting in the Middle East. He told the Associated Press being in the Kuwaiti desert, "Stars are everywhere. It's pitch black. And on the far horizon toward Kuwait City we could see oil fires burning. They just lit up the sky. If you were facing north, toward Iraq, you would see these parachute flares, spotter flares, like novas, that would light up the sky. You were standing in blackness...and off in the distance occasionally you would hear this (rumbling) that was the B-52s. It really is rolling thunder. The sky would light up and the fire would be left wherever it was they'd hit whatever it was they hit…I was 20 kilometers or so from the B-52 bombing and I could still feel it, as if it were 2 kilometers away…Kuwait city was remarkable because you come face to face with the worst that humanity can do…and the best. At one hospital that I visited, I saw both...It's one thing to hear about it, and it's another thing to see it. It's astounding to me that this guy (one doctor) was able to maintain his sanity in the face of that...There's a lot more to tell." 

At the time, then Secretary of State James A. Baker III argued "the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait is one of the defining moments of a new era," as he addressed the House Foreign Affairs Committee. In his 1990 geopolitical and diplomatic Report of the Dean, the dean of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service wrote, "The Middle East is the region to offer itself as a laboratory for the working out of a new order because Saddam Hussein knew little of the Earth’s people outside the borders of his own country. He made an error that brings closer the day when humankind will collectively oversee all its members…People around the world are beginning to understand the need to settle national disputes through negotiation, not war. In this context, Saddam Hussein's error will have benefited humankind. In the near term, it does nothing of the sort." Abdullah Bishara who was the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council made known at the time, "I can see Iran, Turkey, Egypt and Pakistan acting as brokers of future stability in the new international order to prevent a recurrence of symptoms like Saddam Hussein. I can see a defanged Iraq living in a region that refocuses its attention on social and economic progress, not impossible ideological dreams that keep us enslaved to impossible goals. For Kuwait, we want a permanent international peace force like those of the United Nations elsewhere." 

Forrest Sawyer first worked on radio. He started working on television in 1980. Forrest confessed in 1985, "I didn't understand how different TV and radio are for getting information across. In TV, a lot of stuff can between you and the viewer. On radio, I swayed like a boxer when I talked. But, of course, nobody noticed. On TV, my cameraman got arthritis trying to follow me. It became immediately apparent that I had to learn to sit still." Forrest Sawyer was regarded "one of the strongest interviewers on morning TV" in the 1980s. Forrest insisted, "Interviewing is a reportorial function. I think of it as a process of discovery. It's not theater; it’s news...I get all the raw data I can, read it fast and get a producer to boil it down. Then I set it aside and interview 'bare-handed', with no notes. That compels me to listen and, invariably, I'm surprised. To the extent that you expect an interview to be something, you limit it. In feature interviews, I try not to surprise people on the air with 'ambush' questions. But in hard news, it's gloves off."

Of 'Day One', his former producer maintained, "No one expects him to knock off '60 Minutes' so the pressure is off. And if they give him a couple of years, he'll establish himself as a major star." It was explained, "In order to be a 'star' in news, you have to have intellect, journalistic ability, drive and something called presence. Ted Koppel, Peter Jennings, Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer all have it. It's not just a matter of performance on the air - you have to be a journalist who elicits confidence and credibility." By 1994, Diane Sawyer became the most sought-after star in all of network news. It was understood, "Rupert Murdoch personally made the pitch for Fox, which wanted to put Ms. Sawyer in a magazine show to follow Fox's new NFL Sunday afternoon football package. To Mr. Murdoch, Ms. Sawyer was like his newly acquired football commentator John Madden - an instantly recognizable star who would bring immediate credibility." After 'Day One', Forrest shared anchor duties on 'Turning Point'. Roone Arledge stated at the time, "We're going to do a mix of stories, not simply the ones that we know will get a rating."

Blog Archive