Memo Pad: Remembering David... Backing Katie... Do Or Don't...

The pews of Riverside Church were packed Tuesday afternoon with the friends and admirers of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Halberstam, who died in a car accident on April 23.

Gay Talese said, "He had answers for everything. Should the Yankees have kept Sheffield? Is Condi Rice a better pianist than secretary of state? Will The New York Times ever get rid of Michiko [Kakutani]?"

Writer Michael Arlen said Halberstam's highest compliment was when he called anyone "ferocious," yet that tenacity was balanced by a basic kindness and generosity — another theme throughout the service. Dexter Filkins, a Times reporter in Iraq, said journalists routinely ask themselves, when their experience on the ground doesn't match the U.S. government line: "What would David do?"

It was another refrain throughout the memorial, as Anna Quindlen said, "All of us would do well, with all due respect to Jesus, to ask ourselves, ‘What would David do?'"

BACKING KATIE — FOR NOW: Leslie Moonves, president and chief executive officer at CBS Corp., gave a vote of confidence to Katie Couric, took a swipe at Dan Rather and gave a thumbs up to Rupert Murdoch — and that was only breakfast. Moonves said he was fully behind the CBS Evening News anchor and that, after only nine months on the job, she deserves a break from the constant barrage of criticism, including the microscope on everything from her clothes to her boyfriends. "The number of people who don't want their news from a woman is surprising," he said during his conversation with The New Yorker's Ken Auletta for the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications breakfast at the W Hotel in Manhattan. He acknowledged the broadcast has gone through several changes, some more successful than others, but his aim is to reach out to viewers in the under-60 category. "We're trying to put on a different kind of news show," Moonves added. On that subject, he briefly spoke to Rather's pithy comments made Tuesday, about Couric "tarting" up the broadcast. "A pretty sexist thing to say," Moonves offered.

During the roughly 30-minute interview, Moonves talked at length about CBS' digital efforts and how the goal is to "get paid." In fact, he repeated the phrase "get paid" so often that it could have been the title of his talk. He added that CBS didn't join in News Corp. and NBC Universal's online video joint venture earlier this year because of the exclusivity of content. "We'd like to be in lots of different places," he said. But he appeared to back Murdoch's bid for Dow Jones Corp., saying: "I'd never bet against Rupert Murdoch." — Amy Wicks
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