Morley Safer, a "60 Minutes" correspondent for 46 years, dies one week after announcing retirement.
Morley Safer, a "60 Minutes" correspondent for 46 years who as a reporter helped turn American public opinion against the Vietnam War with his coverage showing U.S. atrocities, died last Thursday.
Safer, who died a week after his retirement from the CBS newsmagazine was announced, filed his last report, his 919th, in March and reportedly had been ill. He died at his Manhattan home; the CBS announcement announcing his death gave no cause.
On Sunday, the network screened an hour long retrospective about his career. Among the highlights noted by Safer, the winner of numerous journalism awards and 12 Emmys, was his 1965 dispatch that showed Marines torching the homes of villagers in a Vietnamese hamlet.
“Morley was one of the most important journalists in any medium, ever,” CBS Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves said in the announcement of Safer’s death. “He broke ground in war reporting and made a name that will forever be synonymous with "60 Minutes." He was also a gentleman, a scholar, a great raconteur - all of those things and much more to generations of colleagues, his legion of friends, and his family, to whom all of us at CBS offer our sincerest condolences over the loss of one of CBS' and journalism's greatest treasures."
CBS News President David Rhodes said, "Morley Safer helped create the CBS News we know today. No correspondent had more extraordinary range, from war reporting to coverage of every aspect of modern culture. His writing alone defined original reporting. Everyone at CBS News will sorely miss Morley."
Safer was a familiar reporter to millions when he replaced Harry Reasoner on 60 Minutes in 1970. A much-honored foreign correspondent, Safer was the first U.S. network newsman to film a report inside Communist China. He appeared regularly on the CBS Evening News from all over the world, especially Vietnam, where his controversial reporting earned him peer praise and government condemnation.
In some of his later 60 Minutes pieces, Safer profiled the cartoonists of The New Yorker, interviewed the founder and staff of Wikipedia and reported on a billion-dollar art trove discovered in a Munich apartment. In his last story broadcast on March 13, he profiled the visionary architect Bjarke Ingels.
Safer, a Toronto native born to an Austrian-Jewish family, wrote a book, “Flashbacks: On Returning to Vietnam,” in 1990.
In a statement last week he said: “It’s been a wonderful run, but the time has come to say goodbye to all of my friends at CBS and the dozens of people who kept me on the air.”
Safer reported for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. before joining CBS News in 1964. He first worked as a correspondent in London, and in 1965 opened a Saigon Bureau for CBS News.
He became London bureau chief in 1967, and reported from Europe, Africa and the Middle East before returning to Vietnam to cover the war.
Safer won top journalism honors, including three Overseas Press Club Awards, three Peabody Awards, two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, two George Polk Memorial Awards and the Paul White Award from the Radio/Television News Directors Association. He also received the Fred Friendly First Amendment Award from Quinnipiac College, and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards First Prize for Domestic Television, according to CBS.
(JTA and CBS reports)