Morley Safer knew good questions unearthed good stories

As you’ve probably heard, long-time CBS 60 Minutes journalist Morley Safer has died, just days after the TV show marked the occasion of his retirement with a retrospective.

It was compelling TV. Wistful, really, because we don’t value journalism like that as much as we should these days, even if we got it, which, too often, we don’t.

In fact, I tweeted this after the Sunday night broadcast.

Unlike the ’60s and ’70s, and because of the sharply-fractured media landscape, there don’t seem to be the journalists anymore than can make an entire generation of wonderers want to get into the field. Maybe that doesn’t hurt us much now, but it’s hard to see how it doesn’t hurt us a few years from now.

Safer, of course, could report from a war with the best of them. He could bring down the arrogant with the best of them. And he could change a policy with the best of them.

If you didn’t know any better, you’d swear Walter Cronkite ended the Vietnam War all by himself. He didn’t.


And yet, when I considered my all-time favorite Safer story from 60 Minutes, it wasn’t reporting from a war, bringing down the arrogant, or changing a policy that made the final cut. It was that he could document the human condition with the best of them, as he did when he made a great story out of a simple question like, “What’s the matter with Fins?