Remembering Morley Safer

Morley Safer

Morley Safer (Courtesy CBS Photo Archive)

Morley Safer, the last of the original correspondents on “60 Minutes,” died May 19, 2016. He was 84.

Safer, who once said he had no plans to retire, announced his retirement from CBS News just last week. He was honored May 15 in a special hour-long program marking the occasion.

Safer  joined the top-rated newsmagazine in 1970, two years after its launch with co-hosts Mike Wallace and Harry Reasoner. Safer left his post as CBS News’ London bureau chief to replace Reasoner, who left the network for ABC News.

The Toronto-born journalist began his news career at newspapers and wire services in Canada and England. He was a correspondent and producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation prior to joining CBS News in 1964.

Before “60 Minutes,” Safer was best known for his award-winning coverage of the Vietnam War. In 1965, he and a camera crew filmed U.S. Marines torching a Vietnamese hamlet. His report on the burning of Cam Ne riled White House officials, including President Lyndon B. Johnson, and became a watershed for television war reporting.

Safer chronicled his 1989 journey back to Vietnam in his best-seller “Flashbacks: On Returning to Vietnam.” His work is featured in “Reporting Vietnam,” a Newseum exhibit that marks the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. The exhibit closes Sept. 12.

In 1983, Safer conducted an investigative report on Lenell Geter, a black engineer falsely convicted of robbing a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Texas. Geter was serving a life sentence in prison when Safer’s report on new evidence helped gain his release.

Don Hewitt, the founder and executive producer of “60 Minutes” who died in August 2009, called the piece the program’s finest hour.

Safer pointed to his 2009 interview with country music legend Dolly Parton as one of his all-time favorites. “If I could interview Dolly every week, I would,” he said.

Safer’s life and career are highlighted in the News Corporation News History Gallery.

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