Follow live updates on the House committee hearing on January 6 attack on Capitol Hill.
As news organizations scrambled in 2017 to satisfy an inexhaustible appetite for information about the new president, James Goldston, president of ABC News, declared the dawn of “a new golden age” in American journalism, with Donald J. Trump as its unlikely catalyst. .
Mr. Goldston, a native of Britain who had become a US citizen just a few months earlier, said the world was waiting in anticipation to see what would happen next. “One of the things that makes this story so interesting,” he said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, “is that nobody knows where this is going.”
Few, including Mr. Goldston, foresaw that the story would include a violent mob assault on the United States Capitol.
That siege is now his focus, but not as the network’s news chief. Instead, Mr. Goldston is helping congressional investigators retell and reframe the events of that day for a tired and polarized nation. With a handful of production staff, it’s their job to sift through and edit a vast amount of police body camera footage, hallway surveillance video, and a documentarian’s raw footage – hours upon hours of footage that captured the insurrection. as it developed. He and his team will help the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack produce TV-ready segments for all of their public hearings, next Monday morning.
More than 20 million Americans saw Mr. Goldston’s hand at work during the committee’s nationally televised hearing Thursday night. They watched carefully edited video of rioters smashing windows and two cool-headed witnesses recounting the destruction and chaos, a viewing that felt more made for television than most congressional hearings.
Read more about the January 6 House Committee hearings
Mr. Goldston, 53, rose through the television news ranks as a producer, eventually landing the top job at ABC News, a position he held for seven years until he stepped down in early 2021. His work for the committee began in recent weeks, people with knowledge of its actions said.
Reached by phone on Friday, Goldston said he could not speak publicly about what he was doing for the committee.
His work has drawn the ire of Republicans, who have questioned whether the committee skirted congressional rules by bringing him in without giving proper notice. House Republican leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy accused Democrats of hiring Goldston “to choreograph their January 6 political theater.”
At ABC News, Goldston helped oversee the evolution of a traditional broadcast news division, home to stars like Diane Sawyer, Peter Jennings and Sam Donaldson, into a venue with greater mass appeal that pushed ratings away from rivals like NBC. . Anchors and chiseled-jawed correspondents were all the rage. The stories that Mr. Goldston considered too boring were out. A former executive who worked with him recalled that the worst thing a producer or correspondent could hear him say about a story was that it was “boring.”
Mr. Goldston made his first major mark on ABC News as an executive producer by transforming “Nightline,” the late-night news anchor hosted by Ted Koppel, a veteran of Washington coverage who left the show in 2005. Under Mr. Goldston, the set of “Nightline” moved from Washington to New York, and became a more light-hearted show that was less focused on politics and aimed to compete more with David Letterman and Jay Leno, who were hosting shows on the same 11:35 pm slot hours.
The renewal was a ratings success even as some critics complained that the show devoted too much time to pop culture figures like Michael Jackson, whose death in 2009 it covered extensively. Within ABC, Mr. Goldston was credited with saving “Nightline” from cancellation.
Mr. Goldston’s former colleagues said that when he took over as president of ABC News in 2014, he transformed a newsroom culture that was often respectful of top correspondents and created a top-down structure that empowered producers. and senior executives.
Under his leadership, ABC News made several changes that marked a cultural shift. When Ms. Sawyer stepped down as anchor of “World News Tonight” in 2014, a few months before her 69th birthday, Mr. Goldston appointed David Muir, who was 40, to replace her. He brought the popular daytime talk show “The View” under the control of the news division and away from ABC’s more entertainment-focused daytime unit.
Goldston had relatively few direct dealings with Trump over the years. But like most high-level news executives, she remembers getting the occasional phone call from him, mostly to complain about the coverage. In 2019, the two sat down together at the same table for a London dinner honoring Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
Speaking at a Canadian news conference in early 2017, Goldston described the Trump presidency as double-edged. He was mischievous, he said, being referred to as the “enemy of the people.” But he had also given journalists “a real clarity of purpose about what we do.”