Morley Safer

Correspondent / Anchor


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his four-hour Archive interview, Morley Safer (1931-2016) describes his early years in print journalism, recounts his initial broadcast work in Canada, and details his first job for CBS. He recalls inheriting Edward R. Murrow's office when he became CBS London Bureau Chief, and discusses his experiences as a war correspondent in Vietnam. Safer details his ground-breaking story on Cam Ne and how the story changed public opinion on the Vietnam War. He outlines backlash from the Pentagon after the story broke and how Fred Friendly and others at CBS News supported him during this tumultuous period. Safer also speaks of his long tenure as a correspondent for 60 Minutes, and touches on several memorable stories he covered for the news program, including "The Music of Auschwitz," "Casa Verde," and interviews with Katharine Hepburn, Jackie Gleason, and Betty Ford. Dr. Ralph Engelman conducted the two-part interview on October 26 and November 13, 2000 in New York, NY.

"I have a pretty solid body of work that emphasized the words, emphasized ideas, and the craft of writing for this medium. It's not literary, I wouldn't presume to suggest that. But I think you can elevate it a little bit sometimes with the most important part of the medium, which is what people are saying -- whether they're the people being interviewed or the guy who's telling the story. It's not literature, but it can be very classy journalism."

Highlights
Morley Safer on the Cam Ne story, during which he reported on American soldiers burning a Vietnamese village 
15:58
Morley Safer on the public reaction to his reporting of Cam Ne
02:28
Morley Safer on being a broadcast journalist in Vietnam during the war
11:55
Morley Safer on the success of 60 Minutes
05:11
Morley Safer on the Lenell Geter story and helping to save a man's life
02:03
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood in Toronto and his early influences; on wanting to be a journalist when he was young; on being a child of World War II; on his interest in print journalism; on attending the University of Western Ontario for a few weeks
On his first job at a newspaper at the Woodstock Sentinel Review; on working for the London Free Press in London, Ontario; on connections between his early print journalism work and later work in broadcast journalism; on his interest in foreign reporting; on working for the Oxford Mail and writing features for the Free Press; on the first time he saw television

Chapter 2

On returning to Canada in 1955 and his start in television at the CBC; on his early writing for news anchors; on print journalism looking down on broadcast journalism; on editing the CBC News Magazine; on his first on-camera reporting in 1956 - covering the Hundred Hour War in Tel Aviv
On still not being comfortable in front of the camera; on what he learned from covering the Hundred Hour War; on the response to his on-camera work; on moving to England and writing radio copy for the BBC

Chapter 3

On working as editor-in-chief of the evening news for an independent TV station in Canada; on working for CBC News Magazine as the London correspondent and producing; on traveling to Algeria and the Middle East; on catching the attention of CBS
On differences between working for the CBC and CBS in London; on joining the CBS team and working with Charles Collingwood; on being hired by Fred Friendly; on Walter Cronkite and fellow CBS newsmen; on covering Churchill's funeral
On his first trip to Vietnam

Chapter 4

On his initial impressions of Vietnam and how he approached coverage of the conflict for CBS
On the Cam Ne story, during which he reported on American soldiers burning a Vietnamese village 

Chapter 5

On the reasons told to him for the purpose of Cam Ne operation; on the public reaction to his reporting of Cam Ne; on the reaction by the Pentagon; on a smear campaign against him 
On Bill Moyers role in how Safer was perceived; on allegations that Safer had violated security by reporting on Cam Ne; on the support of Fred Friendly and CBS

Chapter 6

On the impact of the Cam Ne story on public opinion in the United States; on being a broadcast journalist in Vietnam during the war; on feeling in danger at times in Vietnam
On differences in how broadcast and print journalism covered the war in Vietnam; on changes in news coverage; on documentaries he did on Vietnam; on the General Westmoreland interview; on Fred Friendly resigning from CBS News and Dick Salant as Friendly's successor

Chapter 7

On differences between Fred Friendly and Dick Salant's styles as head of CBS News; on Morley Safer's Vietnam and Morley Safer's Red China Diary
On serving as London Bureau Chief from 1967-70 and returning to Vietnam; on Edward R. Murrow's role as London Bureau Chief
On joining 60 Minutes; on the success of 60 Minutes

Chapter 8

On the premise of 60 Minutes and Don Hewitt's role in conceiving the idea for the program; on the average age of the 60 Minutes corespondents; on Mike Wallace; on an example of a quintessential Morley Safer story
On the role of a 60 Minutes  correspondent in initiating a story; on the role of segement producer, Joseph Wershaba, on 60 Minutes; on the Gulf of Tonkin story on 60 Minutes; on the Lenell Geter story and helping to save a man's life
On important stories he reported on; on his interview with Betty Ford; on his interview with Mickey Cohen 

Chapter 9

On significant stories on 60 Minutes - "The Music of Auschwitz"; on "Casa Verde"; on comparing interviewing Katharine Hepburn and Jackie Gleason; on "Yes, But it is Art"
On his piece "Returning to Vietnam" and writing his book Flashbacks on Returning to Vietnam; on the hardest and most rewarding parts of his job; on the witholding of a segment about the tobacco industry; on the biggest problems facing broadcast journalists today; on his legacy, how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

60 Minutes

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Morley Safer on joining 60 Minutes
06:17
Morley Safer on the success of 60 Minutes
05:11
Morley Safer on the premise of 60 Minutes and Don Hewitt's role in conceiving the idea for the program; on Mike Wallace and other correspondents; on significant stories he covered
27:02
Morley Safer on significant stories on 60 Minutes - The Music of Auschwitz
05:15
Morley Safer on significant stories on 60 Minutes - Casa Verde
02:07
Morley Safer on significant stories on 60 Minutes - comparing interviewing Katharine Hepburn and Jackie Gleason
02:40
Morley Safer on the 60 Minutes segment "Returning to Vietnam
07:25
Morley Safer on the witholding of a segment about the tobacco industry on 60 Minutes
02:05

Twentieth Century, The

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Morley Safer on a documentary hour he did for The Twentieth Century on a doctor in Vietnam
00:22
Topics

Vietnam War

View Topic
Morley Safer on his first trip to Vietnam
03:26
Morley Safer on the escalation of the Vietnam conflict
13:29
Morley Safer on the Cam Ne story, during which he reported on American soldiers burning a Vietnamese village 
15:58
Morley Safer on the public reaction to his reporting of Cam Ne
09:40
Morley Safer on Fred Friendly's support during backlash from the government after the Cam Ne story
05:36
Morley Safer on when public opinion against Vietnam began to turn against the war
02:35
Morley Safer on being a broadcast journalist in Vietnam during the war
11:55
Morley Safer on Morley Safer's Vietnam
02:16
Morley Safer on the 60 Minutes segment "Returning to Vietnam
07:25

Women

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Morley Safer on his interview with Betty Ford
01:01

World War II

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Morley Safer on being a child of World War II
02:24
Professions

Correspondent

View Profession
Morley Safer on his interest in foreign reporting
03:00
Morley Safer on being a broadcast journalist in Vietnam during the war
11:55
Morley Safer on serving as London Bureau Chief from 1967-70
04:14
Morley Safer on the role of a 60 Minutes  correspondent in initiating a story
04:38

Journalists & News Producers

View Profession
Morley Safer on wanting to be a journalist when he was young
03:06
Genres

News and Documentary

View Genre
Morley Safer on his first on-camera reporting in 1956 - covering the Hundred Hours War in Tel Aviv
11:20
Morley Safer on his early writing for news anchors
01:29
Morley Safer on his first trip to Vietnam
03:26
Morley Safer on the Cam Ne story, during which he reported on American soldiers burning a Vietnamese village 
15:58
Morley Safer on the public reaction to his reporting of Cam Ne
09:40
Morley Safer on being a broadcast journalist in Vietnam during the war
11:55
Morley Safer on joining 60 Minutes; on the success of 60 Minutes
11:28
Morley Safer on the premise of 60 Minutes and Don Hewitt's role in conceiving the idea for the program; on Mike Wallace and other correspondents; on significant stories he covered
27:02
Morley Safer on significant stories on 60 Minutes
26:19
People

Charles Collingwood

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Morley Safer on joining the CBS team and working with Charles Collingwood
00:57
Morley Safer on the General Westmoreland interview
02:36

Walter Cronkite

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Morley Safer on Walter Cronkite
01:22

Fred Friendly

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Morley Safer on being hired by Fred Friendly
01:40
Morley Safer on Fred Friendly's comment that Vietnam was Morley Safer's War - because the Cam Ne story was so influential on public opinion
05:09
Morley Safer on Fred Friendly's support during backlash from the government after the Cam Ne story
05:36
Morley Safer on Fred Friendly resigning from CBS News
04:52
Morley Safer on differences between Fred Friendly and Dick Salant's styles as head of CBS News
01:43

Jackie Gleason

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Morley Safer on comparing interviewing Katharine Hepburn and Jackie Gleason for 60 Minutes
02:40

Ernest Hemingway

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Morley Safer on voraciously reading Ernest Hemingway's writing
01:38

Katharine Hepburn

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Morley Safer on comparing interviewing Katharine Hepburn and Jackie Gleason for 60 Minutes
02:40

Don Hewitt

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Morley Safer on Don Hewitt's role in conceiving the idea for 60 Minutes
05:09
Morley Safer on Don Hewitt's role in approving stories for 60 Minutes
02:38

Lyndon B. Johnson

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Morley Safer on Bill Moyers role in how Safer was perceived
03:10

Bill Leonard

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Morley Safer on Bill Leonard seeing his work on De Gaulle's death and Leonard wanting Safer to join 60 Minutes
04:09
Morley Safer on Bill Leonard's statement that 60 Minutes would outlive them all
00:53

Bill Moyers

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Morley Safer on Bill Moyers role in how Safer was perceived
03:10

Edward R. Murrow

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Morley Safer on having Edward R. Murrow's office 
00:38
Morley Safer on Edward R. Murrow's role as London Bureau Chief
01:06

Harry Reasoner

View Person Page
Morley Safer on Harry Reasoner leaving 60 Minutes
05:31

Richard S. Salant

View Person Page
Morley Safer on Fred Friendly resigning from CBS News and Dick Salant as Friendly's successor
02:58
Morley Safer on differences between Fred Friendly and Dick Salant's styles as head of CBS News
01:43
Morley Safer on Morley Safer's Vietnam
02:16

Frank Stanton

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Morley Safer on Dick Salant's background as "Stanton's boy"
02:58

Mike Wallace

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Morley Safer on joining 60 Minutes
05:31
Morley Safer on Mike Wallace 
02:22

Joseph Wershba

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Morley Safer on the role of segement producer, Joseph Wershaba, on 60 Minutes
02:40

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