Former CNN President Tom Johnson On A Lifetime In Journalism

Jan 14, 2017

I’m really thrilled about this edition of “Two Way Street.” For some time, we’ve hoped to coax into our studio a man who became one of the important leaders of print and broadcast journalism in the 20th and early 21st centuries. We finally persuade Tom Johnson to join us and share stories about his life and career.

Here’s what you need to know: Tom honed his skills as a young journalist working at his hometown newspaper – the Macon Telegraph. He went on to serve as a press aide to President Lyndon Johnson, and eventually became one of Johnson’s closest confidants. But following his career in government, he served as publisher of the Los Angeles Times – taking the paper to new heights of respect for its investigative journalism and its progressive editorial policies. From there, he was named president of CNN, working closely with founder Ted Turner to dramatically raise the profile of the cable news operation. Through much of that time, Tom kept secret a debilitating condition that at times challenged his capacity to keep going day to day.

As you can imagine, with a career of that breath and scope, he has legions of wonderful stories to tell; so many that we couldn’t fit them all into one “Two Way Street” broadcast; and so, what you’ll find here on our website is the extended conversation, which includes everything we put on the air, plus additional content. Even more great stories!

I have always been an admirer of Tom Johnson, and it is a great pleasure to present this conversation with him.

Some video extras:

Here’s LBJ announcing to the country he will not run for re-election. Tom was standing behind the TV camera in the Oval Office as Johnson was speaking:

Tom talks to us about calling CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite to tell him of LBJ’s death. Here’s the video of that remarkable phone call, which Cronkite fielded live on the air: