(Introduces readers to the men behind the New Deal, suppor...)
Introduces readers to the men behind the New Deal, supporting Franklin Roosevelt
Kintner graduated from Swarthmore College in 1931.
About 1931 Kintner became a reporter with the Stroudsburg Record for two years, then joined the staff of the New York Herald Tribune, earning $17. 50 per week. Initially assigned to Wall Street, he was soon sent to the Tribune's Washington bureau. In 1937, Kintner began a four-year partnership with fellow Tribune reporter Joseph Alsop, Jr. , producing a syndicated political column titled "Capital Parade, " which appeared in ninety-five newspapers nationwide. The collaboration also produced two popular books, Men Around the President (1939) and American White Paper: American Diplomacy and the Second World War (1940). Kintner and Alsop also wrote political commentary for popular magazines, including the Saturday Evening Post and Life.
In 1941 the war effort ended the "Capital Parade" partnership; both reporters joined the armed services, with Kintner serving in the War Department Bureau of Public Relations of the Army Air Force. He received a medical discharge in 1944, as a lieutenant colonel, after suffering the lifetime loss of hearing in the right ear following a precipitous drop in altitude during a flight over North Africa.
Kintner began his broadcasting industry career in 1944, as director of public relations for the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), originally the Blue Network of the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). It had been purchased from NBC by Edward J. Noble, who had made his fortune inventing Life Saver candies. By war's end Kintner headed the radio system's fledgling news operation. In 1948, ABC inaugurated television service in competition with the Dumont Network, NBC, and the Columbia Broadcasting System.
On January 1, 1950, Noble named Kintner ABC president with a seven-year contract at $75, 000 per year. Kintner's personality and drive suited the needs of the struggling network. Kintner kept his own counsel in a brusque, often moody, manner. Tough, confident, and inexhaustible, the five-foot, nine-inch, 180-pound executive badgered subordinates and was often intolerant of the mistakes of others. A heavy drinker and chain smoker, the hard-driving Kintner slept little, often arriving at his office at 6 A. M. , monitoring the company's smallest details and harassing secretaries to tears. At times, a softer side would emerge, characterized by thoughtful gestures, gracious notes, and gifts. Kintner was given to bow ties and expensive suits; his trademark was his cuff links, of which he reportedly owned two hundred pairs. Cataracts troubled him throughout his adult life; he had operations on both eyes and wore thick-lensed glasses. Kintner's personal drive brought significant results despite his shoestring budgets.
During his seven-year ABC tenure he directed the third-place network toward profitability and respect by combining police and Western action series with a viable and extensive news operation. Kintner added sixty television stations to the ABC affiliate network while reducing a 1949 debt of $519, 000 to $142, 000 in 1952, and finally turning a profit of $5. 2 million in 1955. In 1954, Kintner was praised for his decision to televise the Army-McCarthy hearings.
Despite his success Kintner was forced to resign as ABC president in October 1956, three years after the ABC-United Paramount Theaters merger created a new corporate management team under Leonard Goldenson. Kintner resented his new executive subordinates. Personality clashes arose, references to Kintner's excessive drinking increased, and Goldenson noted that ABC's financial success had not matched that of network rivals. Within three months of his departure from ABC, Kintner was hired by NBC as executive vice-president in charge of the color television development program. In July 1958, Kintner succeeded Robert Sarnoff as president of NBC, becoming the first person to be chief executive officer of two broadcast networks.
Mirroring his ABC experience, Kintner made NBC a solid second network behind CBS, promoting action dramatic series and an aggressive, expansive news department. He established NBC News as a separate network division and the biggest in the industry, keying on the success of news anchormen Chet Huntley and David Brinkley to surpass CBS in news-viewer popularity. News programming provided a solid viewer base leading into the nighttime entertainment lineup. When network quiz show scandals rocked the industry, an embarrassed Kintner appeared before a congressional investigating committee in November 1959, publicly apologizing for his network's involvement and blaming the show's producers for the deception.
He initiated the "NBC White Paper" series, telling his corporate colleagues that the way to regain viewer confidence was with an energized news department that represented a higher level of programming. NBC grossed $500 million in billings in 1965, which reportedly accounted for 25 percent of the earnings of the parent company, Radio Corporation of America. As a reward for his success, Kintner in September was designated chairman of the board and president of NBC, with a salary of $200, 000 per year and a seat on the RCA board of directors. However, within three months, he was fired. Apparently his alcoholism, generally controlled since his arrival at NBC, had flared up again, convincing RCA president Robert Sarnoff that Kintner was unable to assume his new responsibilities. As part of a ten-year, $583, 000 severance settlement, Kintner remained with NBC until April 1, 1966, when he became a special assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson, a friend since the 1930's, in Washington, D. C. Kintner's responsibilities, at $30, 000 per year, included directing the White House research and speech writing office, presiding over White House staff meetings, setting the agenda for cabinet meetings, recruiting business executives for government service, and advising the president on "image" matters. As a result of failing eyesight and the prospect of surgery, Kintner was forced to resign his White House duties in June 1967.
(Introduces readers to the men behind the New Deal, suppor...)
On March 9, 1940, Kintner married Jean Rodney, a theatrical producer. They had three children.