Who are you?
Cynthia McFadden is an anchor and correspondent for ABC News who currently co-anchors Nightline and Primetime. Recently named co-anchor of “Primetime” on ABC News, she has been at that network since 1994, when she joined as a legal correspondent. She became a correspondent for “PrimeTime Live” in 1996, and in 2005 she was named co-anchor of ABC News “Nightline.
McFadden has conducted numerous interviews with politicians and cultural figures from Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf to Madonna. She was the legal editor and narrator of the ABC News documentary series “In the Jury Room,” the first television program ever to show jury deliberations in a death penalty case. The hour-long documentary she co-anchored on school integration 50 years after Brown v. Board of Ed has won several awards, including first place documentary from the New York Association of Black Journalists; in 2001-02, for her reporting on 9/11, McFadden and her ABC team received a Dupont Award. McFadden's other awards include the George Foster Peabody Award, an Oversees Press Club Award, six Cine Golden Eagles, the Ohio State Award, two Silver Gavels from the American Bar Association, the Grand Award at the New York Festival and the Blue Ribbon at the American Film Festival.
Cynthia McFadden has appeared as a guest on numerous talk and news shows, including 20/20 and The Charlie Rose Show. Before joining ABC, from 1984-1991, she was the executive producer of Fred Friendly's Media and Society seminars, based at Columbia University, and she became an anchor and senior producer at Courtroom Television in '91, the year of that network's inception. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from Bowdoin College, and received her law degree from Columbia University.
Question: Who are you?
Cynthia McFadden: I'm Cynthia McFadden. I work for ABC News as a co-anchor of “Nightline”, and as a co-anchor of Primetime Live. I was adopted as a baby by two really wonderful people. My mother and father had tried repeatedly to have children and weren’t able to. And I would say it was sort of Cedar House rules. The local doctor – Dr. Twaddle, if you can believe it – suggested to my parents that he was going to have some babies available. It was a private arrangement in the spring of 1956. And so one night after visiting hours, my parents went to the nursery. And there were three little girl babies, one of whom was screaming. That one was me. And the nurse picked me up, handed me to my mother, and my mother said, “Warren, I think this is our baby.” And they took me home. Of course adoption has changed a great deal in the intervening 51 years, but I was blessed. I was blessed to be taken by two people who really wanted a child. And I was an only child, and I was told by these two wonderful people that I could do anything I wanted to do. And that made an enormous difference in my life. I was the first person in my family to go to college. And that was really through their belief in me. And I went to Bowden, which was down the road from where I grew up in Maine, which had recently . . . When I went, I was in the third class of women to graduate from Bowden. And a local judge in town – this little town of Auburn where I grew up – said to me, “Well, I don’t approve of women going to Bowden. But if they’re going to be there, you should be one of them.” So with that sort of dubious encouragement, I was lucky enough to be admitted to Bowden, which was still pretty much a men’s school that admitted women. But it developed my . . . should I say “confidence” or “fierceness”? I guess both maybe. It made me realize that I could stand on my own two feet; that I didn’t always have to seek the approval of others; that my opinion mattered. I went to law school not because I wanted to be a lawyer. I went to law school because I wanted to be a journalist. And I had no idea how to go about doing that. So one of my professors said, “Well God knows you never stop talking, and you write pretty well. So go study something that you’re interested in, whatever that might be.” And I was very interested in government and the way the law worked. And so I applied to law school. And it’s funny. My law school essay was about wanting to be a journalist. It was so odd that the Dean of Admissions at Columbia called me and said, “Are you sure you got the right place here? We’re inclined to admit you, but it seems . . . it seems an odd track.” It didn’t seem odd to me at all. And in fact that was sort of . . . Let’s see, I graduated from law school in ’84. So I was applying in 1980. That was years before cable television and the advent of every lawyer, Tom, Dick, and Mary being on television. This was way ahead of that. So I believed that the law was too important to leave to the lawyers; that we needed to have civilian journalists who knew something about the law, enough to ask probing questions. And that’s what sent me to Columbia.
Recorded on: Jul 7 2007
Warren, I think this is our baby.
Torn between absolutism on the left and the right, classical liberalism—with its core values of compassion and incremental progress whereby the once-radical becomes the mainstream—is in need of a good defense. And Adam Gopnik is its lawyer.
- Liberalism as "radical pragmatism"
- Intersectionality and civic discourse
- How "a thousand small sanities" tackled drunk driving, normalized gay marriage, and could control gun violence
As Game of Thrones ends, a revealing resolution to its perplexing geography.
- The fantasy world of Game of Thrones was inspired by real places and events.
- But the map of Westeros is a good example of the perplexing relation between fantasy and reality.
- Like Britain, it has a Wall in the North, but the map only really clicks into place if you add Ireland.
The lost practice of face-to-face communication has made the world a more extreme place.
- The world was saner when we spoke face-to-face, argues John Cameron Mitchell. Not looking someone in the eye when you talk to them raises the potential for miscommunication and conflict.
- Social media has been an incredible force for activism and human rights, but it's also negatively affected our relationship with the media. We are now bombarded 24/7 with news that either drives us to anger or apathy.
- Sitting behind a screen makes polarization worse, and polarization is fertile ground for conspiracy theories and fascism, which Cameron describes as irrationally blaming someone else for your problems.
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