Pierre Salinger is about to be embroiled in another controversy. The text of a secret recording of the meeting between UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim and the Iranian Revolutionary Council will soon be published in a book based on "America Held Hostage: The Secret Negotiations," Salinger's now-famous three-hour marathon ABC documentary.
Mr. Salinger's original coverage of the embarrassingly unsuccessful Waldheim attempt at negotiation incurred the wrath of the secretary-general when it was first aired. There is no doubt that publication of the transcript in November will simply fan the controversy -- and there is no doubt that the aggressive, ready-for-battle Pierre Salinger is looking forward to the new controversy.
If you are one of the growing multitude of viewers of "20/20" or ABC's "World News Tonight," you have been seeing a lot of Salinger in the past year. His marathon news special on the hostages caused a furor when it first ran on ABC and was repeated shortly afterward. Not eligible for an Emmy in 1981, it is almost a certain winner for 1982. And the book version is certain to revive many controversies.
For almost a full year, Salinger used his extensive personal sources to track many of the secret negotiations that went on, including the unrewarding attempt of Dr. Waldheim to solve the question by journeying to Tehran.
In November, Doubleday will be publishing an expanded version of that news special with new material added by Mr. Salinger, who indicates that he believes the new material will not make the secretary-general any happier than he was when the original TV now aired.
Salinger is a phoenixlike public figure who seems to rise and reconstitute his position time and time again. Now ABC News bureau chief in Paris, he first came to public attention when, after years of experience on newspapers, he agreed to serve with gruff jocularity as President Kennedy's press secretary. Later he filled the same job for a while when President Johnson took over, eventually returning to politics to work for the nomination of Robert Kennedy, until his assassination ended that venture.
Page 1 of 4