It's a sad day today, as 60 Minutes vet Morley Safer has passed away at age 84, only eight days after announcing his retirement from the CBS news magazine.
On May 11th, Morley Safer released the following statement regarding his retirement: “After more than 50 years of broadcasting on CBS News and 60 Minutes, I have decided to retire. 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. But most of all I thank the millions of people who have been loyal to our broadcast.”
Mr. Safer had been a correspondent from CBS's Sunday night staple for 46 years. After he announced his retirement, CBS aired a special to honor his work: Morley Safer: A Reporter’s Life, which - according to CBS - highlighted "Safer’s 1965 CBS News dispatch that changed war reporting when it showed Marines torching the homes of Vietnamese villagers. [...] And his 60 Minutes investigation that freed Lenell Geter, a black man wrongly convicted and sentenced to life in prison in Texas.”
Morley Safer began working at 60 Minutes in 1970 , two years after it was created. Don Hewitt, who produced the show, put together an incredible group of reporters, including Dan Rather, Mike Wallace, Walter Cronkite, Ed Bradley, Charles Kuralt, Andy Rooney and Roger Mudd. This new form of journalism that 60 Minutes adopted was a breakout hit and became the most-watched and most profitable program in television history.
Safer's work was extraordinarily recognized throughout his career. He won every major broadcast journalism award, including 12 Emmys, a Lifetime Achievement Emmy, three Peabody awards, four du Pont-Columbia awards, the Radio and Television News Directors Association’s Paul White Award, three Overseas Press Club awards, two George Polk Memorial awards, among others. Safer was also named a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government.
CBS president Leslie Moonves issued the following statement after news of the passing of Mr. Safer: “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.”
60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager, who was also a good friend to Morley Safer has stated: “This is a very sad day for all of us at 60 Minutes and CBS News. Morley was a fixture, one of our pillars, and an inspiration in many ways. He was a master storyteller, a gentleman and a wonderful friend. We will miss him very much.”
A cause of death has not been disclosed. Our hearts and prayers are with his friends and family. Rest in peace Mr. Safer.