By RACHEL C. DOVE
WILLIAMSON - “I thoroughly enjoyed my drive from the Yeager Airport to Williamson,” stated CBS News “Sunday Morning” Senior Correspondent Rita Braver, who was in town on Tuesday with her film crew to conduct interviews with several local Hatfield and McCoy descendants for an upcoming news segment centered on the history of the famous feud, and on the impact the recent media attention and exposure is having on the Tug Valley area.
“The scenery is remarkable and the warm hospitality we’ve received from everyone here is equaled by none.”
Braver has enjoyed an impressive journalism career following her graduation from the University Wisconsin with a degree in political science, and spent a few years at WWL-TV in New Orleans as a copy girl before joining CBS in 1972 as a producer. From 1983 to 1993, Braver served as CBS News’ Chief Law Correspondent. Braver has covered issues including abortion, civil rights and liberties, drugs, organized crime and espionage. She broke the story of the John Walker spy ring, as well as that of another spy, Jonathan Pollard. She also led CBS’s coverage of the Iran-Contra affair, including the trials of former National Security Council officials Oliver North and the drug trial of former Washington, D.C. Mayor, Marion Barry. She has reported stories on the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster and has traveled to Haiti to report on the U.S. effort in that country.
The veteran correspondent served as CBS’s Chief White House Correspondent during President Bill Clinton’s first term and since 1998, she has been the Chief National Correspondent for the “Sunday Morning” news. Awards to her credit include 5 Emmy’s for investigative reporting and 2 Emmy’s for coverage of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Braver is married to Washington, D.C. lawyer Robert B. Barnett, and has one daughter, Meredith.
When asked by the Daily News how she felt about receiving the Hatfield and McCoy assignment, Braver stated that she was very excited about the trip, and said the feud is one of the most famous stories in American history and that it has been a pleasure to meet people who are associated with it.
“Folks here have been so nice to us,” said Braver. “It’s been refreshing seeing a community that has experienced economic setbacks come alive and take pride in their town, and pride in their heritage and history.”
“You guys live in a beautiful setting,” she remarked. “The green hills and mountains between here and Charleston were absolutely breathtaking.”
Braver commented on how appreciative she was to have Bill Richardson, WVU Extension Professor and Hatfield and McCoy expert serving as her information source, and stated that he was a “true authority” on the history of the feud.
“I can ask him about any information I’ve been given that I’m a little unsure of, and he knows exactly what is fact and fiction,” said Braver. “It’s clearly evident that Bill has researched and studied this important portion on history backwards and forwards, many times over.”
“I was fortunate to have him to act as my consultant through this project. He makes an exceptional guide and narrator for the Hatfield and McCoy feud sites and I’m sure that anyone who goes on a guided tour will whole-heartedly agree.
Richardson was one of the local residents interviewed by Braver, along with entertainer and song writer Jimmy Wolford who is a McCoy descendant and Linda Van Meter, a Hatfield descendant who, along with her husband Doyle, are local business owners.
“This is an incredible story of Shakespearian proportions and I’m so glad it’s getting the attention that it deserves. “
“I watched the mini-series on the History Channel, and now, after speaking to Bill and other local historians, I know the rest of the story.”
“It has been a real treat to come here and report on this historical event, I have definitely learned a lot,” concluded Braver. “It’s been a memorable experience.”
The “Sunday Morning” news is featured on WOWK Channel 13 out of Huntington, and airs each Sunday morning at 9 a.m.