"He Knew How To Get The Job Done"

Veteran CBS-er Rita Braver remembers Ed Bradley from the beginning of his career in Washington. -- Ed.
(CBS)
It's hard to imagine a world without him. He was the consummate correspondent: smart, curious, compassionate, humorous and impartial. But Ed Bradley's presence was what really set him apart. Somehow, when you were around him, even in the days before he became famous, Ed just seemed like "somebody." True, he was tall and handsome, but it was more than that. He just projected confidence and integrity. Soon after he joined the CBS News Washington Bureau in 1974, we were assigned to work together on a hostage taking at the Federal Court House in Washington. I was a producer at the time, and frankly worried about how someone who had just arrived in the city could cover such a big story. But within a few hours, Ed figured out all of the right people to contact, and it seemed that everyone wanted to talk to him and give him information. It was obvious that he knew how to get the job done.

After distinguishing himself on the Jimmy Carter presidential campaign, Ed was named White House Correspondent. When I occasionally joined him on the road to produce his political pieces, I saw how people just gravitated to him. By that time I had worked with a number of other CBS reporters, and none of them ever caused the stir that Ed did, walking through an airport. I was not surprised in later years as his work for CBS Reports and 60 Minutes became nationally recognized. I knew the kind of thought and hard work that went into his stories.

When I moved from Producer to Correspondent in 1983, Ed was one of the first CBS veterans to call to congratulate me.. In later year we were assigned to be the two major floor reporters for the 1996 convention…which can be quite competitive, as there is a limited amount of air time. It was my first time, but Ed had been to many other conventions. When I got to our workspace, I saw that Ed's producers had put up signs that said, "BRADLEY RULES," "GO, ED, GO," "WE WILL TAKE THE CONVENTION," "BRADLEY'S THE BEST," and lots of other slogans, meant (good naturedly, I think) to put me in my place. My team wanted to counter with similar banners bragging about me. Instead, I asked them to put up signs that said, "YOU GO FIRST, MR. BRADLEY," "I AGREE WITH WHATEVER ED SAYS" and "THANKS DAN, BUT ED KNOWS A LOT MORE ABOUT THAT THAN I DO." When Ed walked in he burst out laughing, hugged me…and through the whole convention went out of his way to share the spotlight.

Ed was a kind and generous colleague, who would send nice notes about some of my pieces on the CBS News broadcast, Sunday Morning, where I now work. I would also e-mail him when I liked his 60 Minutes stories, as I did after his recent, brilliant investigative report on the Duke Lacrosse Team case. I still have his reply: "Many thanks for your kind words. The six months left us all exhausted." We now know that Ed had reason to be exhausted. He was working intensely while battling leukemia. But true to form, Ed never mentioned a word about it. He was too busy doing his job.