For years she has been known as the "grand dame of gossip"—and now in her 80s, Liz Smith still writes a much-read column for the New York Post that follows the happenings of the rich and famous. Gayle talks with Liz about her glitzy career and America's obsession with celebrities.
While most people call Liz a gossip columnist, she says she really tries to stay away from unconfirmed stories about stars and multimillionaire moguls. "I don't really [write] much gossip. I'll do something if I get [information] and I think it is true and doesn't kill small children," she says with a laugh. In fact, Liz says she has been scooped in the past by other papers because she was asked by celebrities not to print the latest hearsay about his or her life. "Anytime something interesting happens, the person says, 'Don't print that,'" Liz says.
While she says she has kept her word to everyone who has ever asked her not to print something, she does say if the information was newsworthy, she would run with it. "It would have to have some really big overwriting—maybe something to do with national security," she says.
America's obsession with all things celebrity is something that Liz says bothers her, and she says there are some areas of a celebrity's life that she will never write about. "I didn't ever believe in 'outing' people," she says. "And, I don't want to write about poor children whose parents were famous," she says.
While Liz says she tries to be fair in her column, she has made some mistakes. "When you write a column every day like I do, your ethics are always on the line," she says. "I mean, how far will you go? I have made some mistakes—but now in my old age, I am doing better." As for her future plans, Liz says she has many, including a website project, and of course, continuing her column. "I just try to report on things that interest me, things that are happening, what is going on. I have been doing this since 1979."