Longtime “60 Minutes” correspondent Morley Safer will retire from the broadcast this Sunday, May 15, CBS has announced.
The network said Safer’s career will be celebrated in an 8 p.m. telecast to follow the regular edition of “60 Minutes,” titled “Morley Safer: A Reporter’s Life.”
In a statement, Safer, 84, said: “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.”
Canadian-born Safer joined CBS News in 1964, and the following year began reporting from Vietnam, where an early story on the burning of the village of Cam Ne by U.S. Marines set the tone for much of the critical war coverage to follow. He joined “60” in 1970, two years after launch — as a replacement for Harry Reasoner who had gone to ABC as “Evening News” anchor — and his penchant for irritating the Pentagon remained intact. A 1971 report on the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, which had given President Johnson the power to essentially wage the war in Vietnam, further established that the incident had never happened.
He later did profiles of pianist Eubie Blake, and Katharine Hepburn, whom he admitted “really scared me.” Safer eventually became one of the great stylists of the show, and also its most fervent crusaders. He and producer Suzanne St. Pierre reported in 1983 on a wrongly convicted and jailed South Carolina man, Lenell Geter, which led to his release from prison.
By the late ’80s, Safer, Mike Wallace, Ed Bradley, Diane Sawyer and Reasoner, who had long since returned, came to be known as the Murderer’s Row of “60 Minutes.” They were also, incidentally, the world’s most famous TV reporters.