- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Who would have thought media-hating former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani would be gushing over the courage and professionalism of journalists or that they would be returning the compliment with fawning praise and a standing ovation?
What a difference nine months make or to be precise, the nine months that followed September 11.
So it was at the fourth annual National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation Service to America Awards banquet Monday night, where a once-bitter war of words and wills turned to mutual gratitude and admiration for a mayor who led a city under attack and the broadcasters who covered it.
"It took courage to be there that day as debris was falling," Mr. Giuliani said of reporters on the scene of the World Trade Center disaster. "I didn't see them running away, retreating. They helped us communicate with the people of New York."
While he hasn't "always agreed" with portrayals of himself in the news to put it mildly Mr. Giuliani admitted that until September 11, he hadn't fully realized how effectively the media could assist citizens during a major crisis.
"You have great power," he told about 500 broadcasters, businesspeople, celebrities and members of Congress. "It is wonderful how you used it."
Broadcasters chuckled at the irony of the former mayor praising them after years of acrimonious battles that often led to testy exchanges and a near freeze-out of the media by his administration.
"If he had stayed around [after the banquet], I would have teased him about it," ABC News commentator and banquet emcee Cokie Roberts said after the ceremony, "but as a Catholic, it is said that when events occur and during a crisis, you get 'grace.' It happened to [President] Bush, too."
The awards dinner at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center was preceded by an educational summit that explored ways the media, policy-makers and nonprofit organizations can better serve the American public. (Tom Ridge, director of the Office of Homeland Security, was the keynote speaker.) The event benefited charities for the victims of the attacks on New York and the Pentagon and disadvantaged children.
In addition to honoring Mr. Giuliani with the Leadership Award, the foundation gave "Entertainment Tonight" host Mary Hart the Samaritan Award for her charity work on behalf of children.
"Life is more than overnight ratings," she said. "We have to find ways to better our communities."
Many local television and radio stations around the nation were honored for contributions to their communities. The event was attended by actors Judd Hirsch, Joan Van Ark and Pat Morita; Sen. Evan Bayh; Reps. Julia Carson, Mike Pence and David Hobson; and Solicitor General Ted Olson, whose wife, Barbara, was killed on September 11.
"We live in a world greatly changed [by the events of September 11]," said foundation President Chuck Sherman. "I am proud of the role broadcasters played in helping our nation heal after September 11. Wherever there was a radio or television set, there was information and later a way to reach out to those who were victims of the attacks."


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