Thursday, May 19, 2016

Morley Safer

We are on Sunday night because that is where they put us 30-odd years ago.
I think we became a habit 
-Morley Safer

Morley SaferNovember 8, 1931 – May 19, 2016
Morley Safer died in his Manhattan home today, just one week after announcing his retirement from 60 Minutes following 46 seasons with the show. Four days prior to his death, CBS aired a special 60 Minutes episode covering Safer's 61-year journalism career.

Morley Safer was born to an Austrian-Jewish family in TorontoOntario, the son of Anna (née Cohn) and Max Safer, an upholsterer. He attended Harbord Collegiate Institute and Bloor Collegiate, Clinton Street Public school located at 460 Manning Ave, Toronto, Ontario, and briefly attended University of Western Ontario.

Safer began his journalism career as a reporter for various newspapers in Canada (Woodstock Sentinel-Review,London Free Press, and Toronto Telegram) and England (Reuters and Oxford Mail). Later, he joined the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a correspondent and producer.

In 1964 Safer joined CBS News as a London-based correspondent. In 1965, he opened the CBS News bureau in Saigon. That year he followed a group of United States Marines to the village of Cam Ne, for what was described as a "search and destroy" mission. When the Marines arrived, they gave orders inEnglish to the inhabitants to evacuate the village. When the homes were cleared, the Marines burned their thatched roofs with flamethrowers and Zippo lighters. Safer's report on this event was broadcast on CBS News on August 5, 1965, and was among the first reports to paint a bleak picture of the Vietnam War. President Lyndon Baines Johnson reacted to this report angrily, calling CBS's president and accusing Safer and his colleagues of having "shat on the American flag." Certain that Safer was a communist, Johnson also ordered a security check; upon being told that Safer "wasn't a communist, just a Canadian", he responded: "Well, I knew he wasn't an American."
In 1967 Safer was named the London bureau chief, a post he held for three years. Safer was also a CBS reporter during the Nigerian Civil War. In 1970, he left London to replace Harry Reasoner on 60 Minutes, after Reasoner left to anchor the ABC Evening News (although Reasoner would return to 60 Minutes in 1978, alongside Safer). Safer would go on to set the record for the show's longest-serving correspondent, retiring in 2016 after 46 years.

Safer was the author of the bestselling book, Flashbacks: On Returning to Vietnam. It describes his 1989 return to Vietnam and features his interviews with known and less-well-known Vietnamese people, most of them veterans of the war. These included general Vo Nguyen GiapDuong Quynh HoaPham Xuan An, major Nguyen Be, and others. He also visited the Caravelle Hotel, the Marble Mountains (Vietnam) & air fieldChina BeachHuếQuảng Trị City, a Chammuseum, an old wrecking yard full of American artifacts, and several other locations. The book also contains reflections on Bill Moyers (regarding the Cam Ne affair), Barry Goldwater, and General William Westmoreland. His trip was the basis of a 60 Minutes show in 1989, which Safer said got a reaction of annoyance from some veterans, and a positive reaction from others.

Good Night Mr. Safer

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa
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