tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg May 23, 2016 7:00pm-8:01pm EDT
>> cityr studios in new york this is charlie rose. rose: morley safer, a friend of a longtime colleague died on thursday at his home in manhattan. of death was pneumonia. he was 84. safer was the longest-serving correspondent in 60 minutes history. for five decades he produced at hundred 19 reports. he traveled more than 200,000 miles a year. he exposed fraud and investigate a crime.
he chronicled a time of change in america. it was in his coverage of the vietnam war as a young correspondent that he first made a name for himself. he showed a marine setting a hut on fire with a cigarette lighter. the broadcast almost single-handedly ushered in the living room wars. up becauseack this had an impact on the man's life? safer: it is the most important story. that was who produced suzanne sinclair of eric severance show. decided at the beginning i was not convinced that he was
innocent. because the court said he was guilty. there was a lot of funny stuff in that trial. i said let's assume he's guilty. let's go out assuming that justice happened. but an injustice was done because you don't give a man a life sentence for a $25 robbery. it was absolutely the way to go with this story. as we peeled the layers off we became more and more convinced as time went on it took six or seven months to do the story. andhe end what suzanne marty and i found was new evidence. suppressed evidence. phony evidence. rose: he called it the
most important story of his career in 1983 young engineer in texas was sentenced to life in prison for armed robbery. his investigation absolved the man of wrongdoing and got him off of death-row. his reporting 112 emmy awards and three peabody awards. he also dabbled in lighter stories. he reported on croquet children's beauty pageants and even the orient express. safer: if you're like me and you find a traveling abuse you might want to go back to 1925. when travel was not just getting from a to b it was an adventure. had a few dollars and you had to get from paris to istanbul. this is how you would go. first class on the orient express. rose: only safer retired
to just eight days before his death. that i don't like being on television i find it intimidating and discomforting. it makes me uneasy. he was a complex man to the end. he is dearly missed. joining me now is jeff fager the second of producer of 60 minutes. he produced many of his historians. you knew him well. when did you first get to know morley safer? jeff: i was in the london bureau which was always a special place. mid-1980's.in the morley would come through and work with his brother. those two did so much together. they traveled the world together.
they spent so much time together. it was a brilliant team. i always thought wouldn't it be amazing to someday work with morley safer. i got to 60 minutes at the end of the 80's. steve kroft and i joined together. i was fortunate enough to get on morley safer's team. rose: much has been said about his capacity to put words to pictures. the tradition at cbs news which starts with fred friendly and and romero is just the opposite. words for the year. writing for the year. -- for the year. ear.
pedro's desk in london. it meant so much to him. he was naturally gifted as a writer. incredible command of the language. he took it to another place on 60 minutes. year butiting for the also to the picture. at 60 minutes he created that adventureswhimsical in his voice which was so unique. what about the combination when harry reasoner went to abc and morley safer went to join mike? jeff: that was tough. very different mindsets. that is where don to its brilliance comes in.
i don't think what don predicted, the feistiness that would follow. from the get-go mike tried to steal everything morley wanted to do. and he did. he really did steal stories. morley once asked mike you threatened by out there? mike said no. you are nothing compared to me. it took them years to figure out how to deal with this guy. mike was so tough. please steal a story from his own son which he did in later years. mike was amazing. he was a fabulous character. they both work. , what awith don hewitt trio.
it is amazing to think about them. they are all gone. i remember them so well. the way they mix it up. just full of life. larger-than-life. charlie rose: you have become the keeper of the flame. we go to the services for people you've worked with. and youtheir work there see what 60 minutes has meant to the world and you see what they've meant to 60 minutes. andyou see the character the breadth of 60 minutes. i was fortunate enough to work there. you are the keeper of the flame. jeff: we tend to have a lot of memorial services. both on-air and off air. i think that's a function of being around for half a century.
we have babies being born we have people dying it is the way it works. a very full life. this was not a sad story at all. we miss him. he had a great brilliance of life and career and he loved his life. part of the longevity involves thetaining and even losing stars. these larger-than-life characters but maintaining the standards and values that will stand for. that is when you say keeper of the flame that's my role. to make sure that we don't hear off course in terms of what we stand for what we are about, what stories we cover. how we tell them. the real values that actually don hewitt taught us that he learned from the people who built cbs news. when morley safer
covered the burning of that hot in vietnam, and they said we reporterave it a great in battle. came back he continued to do those hard news stories. but also get to show us the range of his passion. art,e the piece about modern art. he's been defending that story for years. jeff: they still do like of that story. -- don't like him for that story. i don't think anybody has the range like that in broadcast journalism since then. you look at the courage it took to report that story in vietnam. they came after him really hard. the president, the pentagon. what is he some kind
of communist? was actually know he's a canadian. he said i did there was something wrong with that guy. an elevated his profile. it was a tough thing to do. that takes a lot of courage. he reported what he saw. the soldiers said they were going into punishment village. he'd never heard that in his time in vietnam. charlie rose: did he contribute to the evolution of 60 minutes because of the time he came it was only two years after the broadcast started. mike had a very strong definition is an interviewer. morley comes in with a wider range. jeff: he evolved significantly. people forget he was on tuesday nights at 10:00. it was up against marcus welby
the number one show in the country. it was on every other tuesday. swapping with cbs reports. it was really fragile. got critical acclaim. the critics loved it. it has some promise because of that. morley had it written into his contract that when the show was canceled to get to go back to london. that was in the contract. charlie rose: he was a cosmopolitan man. canadian but then china, shanghai. jeff: he fit so well at cbs because he admired the borough boys. well read, well-dressed, highly educated. he was always a dapper figure himself.
did you learnwhat about reporting from him? the thing that morley teaches as you look at the stories is that the power of observation. he went out on a story and he lived it and he saw nothing. that most reporters don't say. it was great to watch those come to life on paper. after we get back. he was a masterful storyteller. charlie rose: the conflict between morley and mike was a continuous? jeff: they went for months without talking. the office doors are right next to each other. they would go for months without speaking. then somehow they would patch it up. they really do get writing notes back and forth. john would get involved.
-- don would get involved. charlie rose: did that and to the broadcast? jeff: i think it did. the competitive nature. everybody wants a great story. in this day and age we don't have that kind of competition externally at least a half. charlie rose: anybody was good enough to work in 60 minutes knows what a good story is. you can smell it and you can feel it. you can't get your blue card in fast enough. jeff: that is when the fighting always began. but they would patch it up. then something else would come up. retired atreasoner his retirement party at the russian tea room. harry, he was 64 but he looks older. he was a lovely guy.
i was working with morley. he and mike got into a fight in the middle of this retirement party over story. the sad part is nobody really paid much attention to it. as for the story was. nobody remembers what the story was. i worked with morley just four years. this is a 60 minutes profile of billy bulger the powerful president of the massachusetts senate and the brother of whitey bulger who was arrested in california. johnny depp played him in a movie. here's the report produced by jeff baker and reported by morley safer in 1992. >> the perception of powers just about the same as having power.
and reason with them. i said you're going to get asked very soon. you either go to gas or the massachusetts turnpike extension goes right through your plans. i reasoned with them. morley: the stench of the massachusetts turnpike will be at your front door. it also enhances the reputation that he is going to be a tough. morley: bulger keeps attention with the press alive by not granting interviews. he was reluctant to do one with us. former state treasurer mr. crane reminded him. when mr. crane might have been saying was the sensitive issue of billy bulger's or other james, known as whitey. a convicted felon who served time in prison including -- bank for bankruptcy robbery. one of the most feared monsters in boston. billy valter: you're going to be good to me aren't you morley? i'm your power. -- i'm your power. al.
he loved being there. he loves the banter in the give-and-take. the back-and-forth. adding thrown out was the best part. the other guy said you wish it was 60 seconds. in between them was former governor william weld. crane rental morley about 10 front of onet the of the hotels in boston. morley was getting into a car and he said morley where you going? morley said i'm going to the courthouse. he said morley you're not guilty. you didn't do it. it was great. they london in boston. -- and loved him in boston.
charlie rose: he talked about how he got started. morley safer: i went to college for about four months along time ago. got very restless. i wanted to be a reporter and particularly a foreign correspondent. since i was 12. this was before television. i was hooked on hemingway like a lot of other people. 18, a freshmanas learning about economics. i wanted to see it. i want to be feeling history. so i dropped out.
got a job on the newspaper called the woodstock sentinel review. just barely a daily paper. it should've been a weekly. we managed to put in the paper every day. rose: if morley did ernest hemingway or mike did ernest hemingway, with therapist into very different types of stories? jeff: they would have been. that is a story that needed orally. -- morley. his ability to tell the story was the best of any with the exception of charles kuralt. you do a good interview. -- he could do a good interview. he did over 900 stories.
all kinds of stories. those were the days. he did them all so well. andones you really remember there is a great paragraph at least in every one of them. is what you see his defining style. the storytelling. his command of the language. charlie rose: people come to 60 minutes from cbs news. and they were in 60 minutes. -- learn 60 minutes. what is the process of becoming cbs news correspondent.n in the london bureau or the los angeles bureau.
jeff: morley was trained by the original people at cbs. and so was don hewitt. charlie rose: burroughs boys. jeff: dixieland was in charge. friendly was still around. those with the giants and cbs news. the way we tell stories which is really different. we could spend an hour talking about this right now. it involves a simplicity. adjectives. a simplicity yet when morley would find the right word it would change the storage are medically. the reason we've had these correspondents all these years is because they learn that. they have learned that over the years. the cbs news style. i have aborted my office which
is forbidden words. clear is one. that is reporter speak. you only hear reporters say the the of words that are on board. it's not how you tell a story typically. clear is the most overused word. exclusive is another one. it sounds like reporters are supposed to sound. the truth is nothing is clear in the world. it is intense. one of the things we really focus on and you've been there so many times charlie is we will deliver -- go over every line. we will look at every word. don theyr morley and would get into a fight about one word. because morley really wanted believes a loton
of americans didn't know what it meant. rose: that was part of his own mission. jeff: another part of our culture which is fred friendly. never underestimate the audience. rose: never overestimate how much they know. this.ree to explain had you only two people have been executive producer of 60 minutes. you both had very able subordinates. what is it that happens here words in a room that you have been in so often with morley meer and mike wallace and and steve croft, all the reporters who come in. how do you define your core
competence? i like to think that you see a story and 60 minutes it looks like it along stair. -- it belongs there. we had some clunkers. to it.ring a consistency i learned from don hewitt. he was a great storyteller. as an editor. is, many percent editorial. what kind of story we're going to do who we are going to interview approving stories are saying no to them. maintaining the right mix of stories, how many profiles are we going to do. how many movie or book stories. very few because of some much of that out there. right down to the structure of the story. there is a way we tell our be,ies and we want them to
feel like 60 minutes stories. that can be a difficult process. sometimes it involves five or six or seven screenings of the story. sometimes too. morley's were never a long process. he would go back to rewrite and restructure story. he would come back with a fresh story and was ready for air. charlie rose: take a look at this. morley talking to me in 1993. about the significance of his vietnam coverage. before he came to 60 minutes. speaking of vietnam. the most important shaping influence of your reporting career? morley safer: in. -- no question.
it was a shaping experience for both the reporter and the man. i don't think is a vietnam veteran whether a civilian or service man who wouldn't say the same thing. reporters tend to spend more time there than most of the gis except for the ones who chose to re-up. first of all i think death close up >> i had covered a lot of wars before south africa. they were flashpoint wars. they were over at about the time you got there. and i coupled a couple of wars in the middle east, there was war.undred hours for -- there was continuing guerrilla action inside chris -- in
ago. wasas after his death which unfortunate. it was two days before he died. he said come by. and you walk around the editing rooms and you hear his voice. and we have been through this process quite a bit. it's called pine box productions. he was putting this special together. as he approached everything else, really honestly. he did not try to sugarcoat it.
he just said that i am dying and this is it. we believed in the nurses that were closest to him and they told us that he had let go. charlie rose: i saw the special. >> you hear about it all of the time. he was so appreciative. i sent morally we cannot do enough for you. you could know it was meaningful to be in the room. viewed the love of the work. he knew he had skills.
wanted to laugh. i just liked going into his office and hanging out with him. the wide range of his curiosity. everything. if you weren't curious about something when you are with him, he would wonder. he would wonder about you. he really was naturally curious. mike wallace was one of the great interviewers ever. what he did in these profiles showed you that there is no single way to be able to engage somebody in order to figure out. what makes them tick? been.er it might've
end they got the same results. where peopletion like him so much that they want to tell them. that has a lot to do with really good reporters. if they are really likable, they tend to get information. they don't want to disappoint you. they want to share. they go beyond where they might go. mike knew how to do both. he repeated out of you. they would both come with one central question. to one common trait you have succeed is that ability. the ability to talk to someone
he talked about the number of profiles he had done with women. that's right. [laughter] helen mirren, i remember. kate hepburn people remember. >> they were great interviews. what was it about him and women? >> i think it was respect. he loved a strong woman. it was funny i remember with the interview twisting his arm to go do it. he didn't want to do it? >> he thought it was maybe a little tablet. that was one of his favorite interviews ever. her.id he loved so much substance that is what
he did not expect is that is why meryl streep was so great. he likes strong women but strong women understood him. it works both ways. they fell in love with each other. they suggested they get undressed in front of the camera. i want to go to this one. this is with cap and hepburn, a unique character. -- katharine hepburn. >> there has to be something there.
was that the end? >> i don't remember. it was such a great piece. that is island weitzman who you have worked with. he came up with a nickname for him. morley gives him credit. that is what brought it out. here's another one with an interesting take. with that own sense of, is they really are? the vacuum cleaner was sold for $100,000.
the sink also went for 21,000 and a pair of urinals. i was giving definition of life and death. end one done with the wrong there's the imaginative title of untitled. millionold for 2 $145,000. minutes used to mean 60 producers. it is a combination of a correspondent and a great producer. it is a collaboration in the fence. that is a big part of cbs news as well. there are 75 reporters. >> the producer plays such an important role.
they did the coliseum within a couple of years of that. it is not that hard to find a great story in italy. charlie rose: i made the point with him saying you can do whatever you want to. maybe if i want to do this story it might be a hard sell. kroft in 60 minutes. there are a few people in a category where if you want to go do that, it is going to come back well. there is something there. just great storytellers. it got to a point where he
really did have cart launch. it's going to come back well. he meant so much to me. on so many different levels. when there are tough decisions to make. i will when i listen for 60 minutes, i wanted to hire this guy charlie rose. he felt very strongly that the correspondence should not have jobs. they should focus on the 60 minutes. they should just be focused on that. i said i really wanted him to be on 60 minutes two. that advice meant so much to me.
in a way he was like a brother. he was like a father figure as well. just a really good pal. i know when you ask them something he is going to give it to you right from the heart. he is not going to sugarcoat it or anything. that is the kind of person he was. charlie rose: thank you for coming. for having me and letting me talk about one of our favorite people. arelie rose: we unapologetically in a lovefest. he is a special man and deserves everything that was said about him. if you don't believe it, go look at his work. back in a moment, stay with us.
what is he good as this person next? charlie rose: what did you learn about interviewing from him? we all learned a tremendous amount from mike. the outrageous question. don't beg always said afraid to fail. you sometimes get into territory that you are not quite sure. i think he went in to those interviews but he also knew how can i make this my view. how can i go off in this direction. atwas absolutely brilliant finding a subjects weak spot.
the old kind of diplomatic correspondent. rhodes scholars who really looked down their noses. they were just making the transition. and they really looked down their nose. into the same attitude walter because he was really a wire service guy. there was no way he was not going to whip these guys. he wanted to get the story and get the attention. sure enough, he did.
ultimately it fueled those guys. their respect. charlie rose: don't the best ones always had to do that? >> mike was particularly diligent. he would find that one colonel in the research that was really going to make this story. he could find the core of that. he told me once about an ambush style interview that involved what it has undertaken.
charlie rose: did he enjoy that? >> i think he grew very weary of that. the broadcaster was benefiting from it. he felt this is not really what we want to be remembered for. charlie rose: he became such an important figure in the last half of the 20th century. i said this on the morning news the other day. he was parodied on the simpsons. that is 60 years where people know who mike wallace is. reflected inwas the new york times op-ed the
mark: with all due respect to bob corker, you might need to boost your name recognition. >> bob corker seen going into a meeting with donald trump. >> who is that guy? >> i don't know who that is. >> who is it? >> i don't know. mark: tonight, we are uncorking fresh polling data because the political world has now guzzled down the general election head-to-head dead heat numbers between donald trump and hillary clinton.