View Full Version : The Westins, ABC, the CIA, & Wall Street

Ed Jewett
09-07-2010, 03:52 AM
What follows is a rudimentary collection fueled by the news of the resignation of David Westin.

Chief of ABC News Is Resigning

By BILL CARTER (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/bill_carter/index.html?inline=nyt-per)

Published: September 6, 2010

David Westin (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/david_westin/index.html?inline=nyt-per), the longtime president of ABC News, has decided to resign his position on Tuesday.

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David Westin, president of ABC News, had been at odds with network management.

In an e-mail that Mr. Westin sent to the staff on Monday night, he cast the decision in personal terms, saying that after almost 14 years, he had decided it was time “to move on.” He also pledged to stay in the position until the end of the year to give ABC time to find a replacement.
One staff member informed before the release of the e-mail said that the decision was also related to a long-running conflict between Mr. Westin and the management of the network, including ABC’s parent company, Walt Disney (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/companies/disney_walt_company/index.html?inline=nyt-org), over the financial standing of the news division.
Mr. Westin, 58, did not respond to a request for comment. He is expected to address the staff on Tuesday, an ABC News employee said. In his e-mail, Mr. Westin said, “There are some other things I want to do professionally — things that I cannot explore while fulfilling my responsibilities here.”
Anne Sweeney, president of the ABC/Disney television group, said in a statement that Mr. Westin “helped reinvent our news organization, and positioned us for great success going forward.”
The ABC News staff member informed of the decision said that Disney and ABC managers had pressed Mr. Westin for years to make the division more profitable, but had been unhappy with his efforts to accomplish that goal. ABC announced in February that it would reduce its staff by up to 400 employees, about 25 percent of its work force.
But one senior ABC executive said the two issues were separate and financial pressures over news costs had not been a factor in Mr. Westin’s decision. Another senior ABC News executive said the division had been consistently profitable, but ABC had sought to increase its profit margin to 15 percent, from 5 percent. The executives spoke on the condition of anonymity so that Mr. Westin’s and Ms. Sweeney’s statements would be the only official comment on Monday night.
ABC News programs typically rank second to NBC News programs among the most important ones, but ABC lags far behind in terms of earnings.
This year, the division’s late-night news program, “Nightline,” has advanced to a much more competitive position against the late-night entertainment shows on NBC (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/companies/nbc_universal/index.html?inline=nyt-org) and CBS (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/companies/cbs_corporation/index.html?inline=nyt-org), hosted by Jay Leno (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/l/jay_leno/index.html?inline=nyt-per) and David Letterman (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/l/david_letterman/index.html?inline=nyt-per), which have both had sharp slides in ratings.
But ABC News has never been able to move up over all in the network news standings. In the two most competitive areas, the morning and evening news programs, ABC has continued to trail NBC. Changes in the anchor position at both broadcasts — George Stephanopoulos (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/george_stephanopoulos/index.html?inline=nyt-per) at “Good Morning America” and Diane Sawyer (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/diane_sawyer/index.html?inline=nyt-per) at the evening newscast “World News” — have resulted in steady performances but have not led to any gains in ABC’s ranking.
And unlike NBC News, which owns the cable news channel MSNBC, ABC News does not own a cable channel that could provide profit to support the rising costs of operating a television news division.

A version of this article appeared in print on September 7, 2010, on page B1 of the New York edition.



David, I assume, is the son of the man I met and interviewed in person for my final project in my "TV News and Public Affairs" course at UMass.

Av Westin to Leave ABC

Published: May 1, 1989

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Av Westin, the former executive producer of the prime-time ABC News program ''20/20,'' has announced plans to leave the network to form his own production company, probably with the backing of either the Walt Disney Company or Warner Communications. Mr. Westin has been producer of the ABC ''Burning Questions'' documentaries since 1987, when he was removed from ''20/20'' after a dispute with Roone Arledge, the president of the news division. Mr. Westin's contract with ABC News has expired, and he said Friday that while he hoped to produce work independently for the network, he expected to be out of his office at ABC by the end of June.
''I want to set up a company that will enable me to combine 35 years in information programming and the trend toward reality programming,'' Mr. Westin said. ''They will be programs that involve docudrama, that start from an information base, but use every device in television.''
''ABC wants me to continue supervising some projects and create others,'' he said. ''I will leave with very good feelings.''



Av Westin once described himself as the guru of television.



"ABC, Hearst and Disney



William J. Casey

William Joseph Casey (1913-1987) was Director of Central Intelligence from 1981 to 1987. Casey and former officers of the Central Intelligence Agency set up the media holding company Capital Cities in 1954. "According to many investigators, during this period the CIA poured millions into setting up front companies for covert operations in broadcasting and publishing, and it is alleged that Casey funneled some of these funds into Capital Cities to acquire failing media companies and turn them around." "Casey was one of the original OSS crowd. After law school, he went to work for an accounting firm but kept in touch with fellow lawyer John ‘Pop’ Howley, who worked for Wild Bill Donovan (http://www.smokershistory.com/Donovan.htm)’s law firm, Donovan Leisure Newton & Irvine. When Donovan became head of OSS, Casey and Howley joined him. Casey was John Singlaub’s case officer in the war, while Paul Helliwell was Singlaub’s direct superior. Casey also was a close friend of Allen Dulles (http://www.smokershistory.com/Donovan.htm#Allen_W._Dulles) and John Foster Dulles, worked with Ray Cline, and became involved with Lansdale as Santa Romana’s torture of Major Kojima was bearing fruit. This put Casey in a position to know a great deal about the Black Eagle Trust, and one source insists that Casey’s financial skills made him one of the key players, along with Paul Helliwell and Edwin Pauley, in implementing the Black Eagle Trust (http://www.smokershistory.com/JohnReed.htm#Project_Hammer) under the guidance of Robert B. Anderson and John J. McCloy (http://www.smokershistory.com/Salk.htm#John_J._McCloy). Following the war, Casey and his old friend Howell founded their own Wall Street law firm." (FTR #451 Petals from the Golden Lily. By Dave Emory. For the Record, Mar. 21, 2004.) Casey was a director of Capital Cities from 1957 until 1981 and was also an attorney for the company. He held 34,000 shares in the company, which were not part of the trust he set up in 1983. (Casey Stake in Capital Cities. New York Times, Mar. 27, 1985.) Casey graduated from Fordham University in 1934. He was head of the Secret Intelligence Brance of the Office of Strategic Services in World War II, and was Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission from 1971-1973 during the Nixon administration.

FTR #451 Petals from the Golden Lily / For the Record (http://ftrsummary.blogspot.com/2004_04_01_archive.html)
Casey was the house counsel of Glore, Forgan & Co., whose partner, J. Russell Forgan (http://www.smokershistory.com/Benson.html#James_Russell_Forgan), wrote the act creating the C.I.A., and was also the primary financier of Philip Morris. Casey was later a client of the law firm LeBoeuf Lamb Greene and MacRae, whose counsel, Milton S. Gould (http://www.smokershistory.com/TobInst.html#Milton_S._Gould), was appointed to head the Tobacco Institute during its shutdown.

Capital Cities, 1959

"Capital Cities Stations - WROW-AM-FM and WTEN (TV) Albany, WCDB (TV) Hagaman, both N.Y. WCDC (TV) Adams, Mass., WTVD (TV) Durham, N.C. and WPRO-AM-FM-TV Providence, R.I. Ownership: Lowell J. Thomas, 16.2%; Frank M. Smith, 12.10%; John P. McGrath, 5.1%; William J. Casey, 4.4%; Leo W. O'Brien, 2.03%; Dean P. Taylor, 2.6%; Mr. Thomas is the CBS commentator. Messrs. O'Brien and Taylor are Congressmen from New York." (Broadcasting Yearbook 1959, p. 403.)

Capital Cities' Takeover of ABC

"On November 21, 1984, the CIA asked the Federal Communications Commission to strip ABC of its five TV and 14 radio station licenses. (ABC has hundreds of affiliate radio and TV stations, but it's legally limited to owning just a few stations, all of which are located in the biggest, most lucrative markets.) The CIA was ostensibly upset because on Sept. 19-20, 1984, ABC News had aired allegations that the agency had contracted for the murder of Ron Rewald, a Honolulu swindler who claimed that his scams were directed by the CIA, of which he claimed to be a secret agent. The story supposedly so enraged then-CIA director William Casey that he asked the FCC to strike the ultimate economic death blow to ABC by revoking its station licenses. In February 1985, the CIA reduced its demands to asking for FCC penalties under the "Fairness Doctrine," which requires the broadcasters to air at least two sides of 'controversial issues of public importance.' In both FCC complaints, Bill Casey's CIA became the first government agency ever to seek such redress from the news media.

"On March 18, 1985, while the FCC considered Casey's complaints, ABC agreed to be acquired by Capital Cities, a media conglomerate with the lowest profile and highest profit margins in the broadcasting business. It was a "friendly" takeover; ABC chief Leonard Goldenson and Cap Cities president Tom Murphy had been close friends for years. Cap Cities also owns daily papers in Fort Worth and Kansas City, trade journals (including Women's Wear Daily) and, at that time, 55 cable TV systems." (The Seizing of the American Broadcasting Company. The LA Weekly, Feb. 20-27, 1987.)

The Seizing of the American Broadcasting Company / CTKA (http://www.ctka.net/abc_cap.html)

More at the link: http://www.smokershistory.com/abc.htm