tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg May 23, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT
>> from our studios in new york city this is charlie rose. charlie rose: morley safer, a friend and a longtime colleague died on thursday at his home in manhattan. the cause of death was pneumonia. he was 84. safer was the longest-serving correspondent in 60 minutes history. for five decades he produced 919 reports. he traveled more than 200,000 miles a year. he exposed fraud and investigated 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. in 1965 he showed a marine setting a hut on fire with a cigarette lighter. the broadcast almost single-handedly ushered in the living room wars. where do you stack this up, because you clearly had an impact on the man's life? morley: it is the most important story. the woman who produced that was suzanne st. pierre of eric severaid's show. we 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. in the end what suzanne and marty and i found was new evidence. suppressed evidence. phony evidence. charlie rose: he called it the
most important story of his career. in 1983 a 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 won 12 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. morley: if you're like me and you find traveling an abuse you might want to go back to 1925. when travel was not just getting from a to b it was an adventure. suppose you 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. charlie: morley safer retired just eight days before his death. he admitted 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 producer of 60 minutes. he produced many of his stories. 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. i was there in the mid-1980's. 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.
they weren't blood brothers, but 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. charlie: much has been said about his capacity to put words to pictures. jeff: the tradition at cbs news which starts with fred friendly and edward r. murrow is just the opposite. words for the ear. writing for the ear. he got murrow'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. he was writing for the ear but also to the picture. at 60 minutes he created that genre, the whimsical adventures in his voice which was so unique. charlie: what about the combination when harry reasoner went to abc and morley safer went to join mike? jeff: that was tough. [laughter] jeff: very different mindsets. that is where don hewitt's brilliance comes in. i don't think 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 were you threatened by me when i got here? mike said no. you were nothing compared to me. [laughter] it took him years to figure out how to deal with this guy. mike was so tough. he would steal a story from his own son which he did in later years. mike was amazing.
he was a fabulous character. they both were. working with don hewitt, what a trio. it is amazing to think about them. they are all gone. i remember them so well. the way they mixed it up. just full of life. larger-than-life. charlie: you have become the keeper of the flame. we go to the services for people you've worked with. you see their work there and you see what 60 minutes has meant to the world and you see what they've meant to 60 minutes. and you see the character and 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.
morley had 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 maintaining and even losing the stars. these larger-than-life characters but maintaining the standards and values that we 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. charlie: when morley safer covered the burning of that hut in vietnam, and they said we have to burn the village to save it, a great reporter in battle.
he came back, he continued to do those hard news stories. but also get to show us the range of his passion. i love the piece about art, modern art. he's been defending that story for years. [laughter] jeff: they still 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. they said what is he some kind of communist?
the answer was actually no, he's a canadian. he said i knew there was something wrong with that guy. it 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 punish the village. he'd never heard that in his time in vietnam. charlie: did he contribute to the evolution of 60 minutes because at the time he came it was only two years after the broadcast started. mike had a very strong definition as an interviewer. morley comes in with a wider range. jeff: he evolved significantly. people forget it 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 had some promise because of that. morley had it written into his contract that when the show was canceled he could to go back to london. [laughter] that was in the contract. charlie: he was a cosmopolitan man. canadian but then china, shanghai. jeff: he fit so well at cbs because he admired the ed murrow boys. well read, well-dressed, highly educated. he was always a dapper figure himself.
charlie: what did you learn about reporting from him? jeff: the thing that morley teaches as you look at the stories is that power of observation. he went out on a story and he lived it. it was great to watch those come to life on paper. after we get back. he was a masterful storyteller. charlie: the conflict between morley and mike was continuous? jeff: they went for months without talking. the office doors are right next to each other. they would go for months without speaking. [laughter] then somehow they would patch it up. they really do get writing notes back and forth. don would get involved. [laughter] charlie: did that add 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 as much. charlie: anybody who was good enough to work at 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. when henry reasoner retired at his retirement party at the russian tea room. poor harry, he was 64 but he looked and seemed 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 a story. the sad part is nobody really paid much attention to it. nobody remembers what the story was. i worked with morley just four years. charlie: 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 fager and reported by morley safer in 1992. billy: the perception of power is just about the same as having power. if people think you have it, you have it. morley: you do nothing to discourage that.
billy: there is value in that. it can be very useful. morley: they were polluting the air polluting south boston, your constituency. billy: i called them in and reasoned 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 plant. [laughter] i reasoned with them. [laughter] morley: the extension of the massachusetts turnpike will be at your front door. it's a joke. everybody knows it's a joke. but it also enhances the reputation that he is going to be a tough. bulger keeps the tension with the press alive by not granting
interviews. he was reluctant to do one with us. former state treasurer mr. crane reminded him. >> i cannot wait to see that show. you will wish it was 60 seconds. [laughter] morley: when mr. crane might have been saying was the sensitive issue of billy bulger's brother, known as whitey. a convicted felon who served time in prison including alcatraz for bank robbery. has since become according to the feds one of the most feared mobsters in boston. billy: morley is going to be good to me, aren't you? i'm your pal. i'mey: just remember, editing it. [laughter] billy: grab your camera and get out of here. [laughter] ♪
give-and-take. the back-and-forth. and getting thrown out was the best part. [laughter] jeff: icing on the cake. it was billion. charlie: i love it when the other guy said you wish it was 60 seconds. jeff: that was the treasury of the state of massachusetts. they worked together well. crane ran into morley about 10 years later at the front of one 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. [laughter] jeff it was great. : they loved him in boston. charlie: take a look at this.
he talked about how he got started in reporting. >> why reporting? what brought you to the newspaper business? morley: i went to college for about four months a long time ago. got very restless. i wanted to be a reporter and particularly a foreign correspondent. since i was 12. you love the subject matter or had you seen some television show or movie? morley: this was before television. i was hooked on hemingway like a lot of other people. by the time i was 18, a freshman in college, learning about economics. i wanted to see it. i want to be feeling history. so i dropped out. i got a job on a newspaper called the woodstock sentinel review.
just barely a daily paper. it should've been a weekly. we managed to put out the paper every day. charlie: if morley did ernest hemingway or mike did ernest hemingway, would they have done very different types of stories? jeff: they would have been. that is a story that needed morley. his ability to tell the story was the best of any with the exception of charles kuralt. he could do a good interview. he did over 900 stories. and he did everything well. if you look at that body of work -- charlie: 919.
[laughter] jeff: a lot of stories. but they are all kinds of stories. the ones you really remember -- and by the way, there is a great paragraph at least in every one of them. where you see his defining style. jeff: yeah, the storytelling. it's really just his command of the language. charlie: people come to 60 minutes from cbs news. and i assume elsewhere. and they learn 60 minutes. jeff: yes. charlie what is the process of : becoming a cbs news correspondent in the london bureau or the los angeles bureau? jeff: it depends. came,ends on the time you by the way. morley was trained by the
original people at cbs. and so was don hewitt. charlie: murrow's boys. jeff: that's very important. morley got there afterwards but dick salant was in charge. fred friendly was still around. those with the giants at 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. not a lot of adjectives. a simplicity yet when morley would find the right word it would change the story. 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 -- a board in my office which is forbidden words.
newspeak.ike charlie: what is the for but in word? jeff clear is one. : that is reporter speak. you only hear reporters say the kind of words that are on the board. we don't allow them on 60 minutes. it's not how you tell a story typically. clear is the most overused word. exclusive is another one. cleared because it sounds like reporters are supposed to sound. they use that word. listen for it. 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 go over every line. we will look at every word. i remember morley and don they would get into a fight about one word. because morley really wanted that word and don believes a lot of americans didn't know what it meant. [laughter] charlie: that was part of his
own mission. jeff: another part of our culture which is fred friendly. never underestimate the audience. that is important. they don't know more than you do. charlie but never overestimate : how much they know. feel free to explain this. it's important. don hewitt and you are the only two people who 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 safer and mike wallace and me and steve croft, all the reporters who come in. how do you define your core competence?
jeff: i like to think that you see a story on 60 minutes it looks like it belongs there. we had some clunkers. most of the time, and i think that is what i do bring, a consistency. i learned from don hewitt. he was a great storyteller. editor. executiveally is as producer 90% editorial. what kind of story we're going who we are going to interview to do, approving stories, 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, by the way. because there's so much of that out in the world. right down to the structure of the story. there is a way we tell our stories and we want them to be,
feel like 60 minutes stories. that can be a difficult process. sometimes it involves five or six or seven screenings of the story. sometimes two. 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: and had been responsive. take a look at this. morley talking to me in 1993. about the significance of his vietnam coverage. before he came to 60 minutes. here it is. morley: speaking of vietnam. the most important shaping influence of your reporting career? no question. it was a shaping experience for both the reporter and the man. i don't think there is a vietnam
regardless of 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. 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 the hundred hours war. there was continuing guerrilla action in cyprus.
this was full-blown war in which every day you saw death and there is a minor survivor syndrome every day that you saw. charlie rose: here he was in a conversation. it is like he is sitting at the conversation. we are lucky that we have this great conversation. we lost bob simon about a year ago. it was after his death which was 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. he thought to be able to do this was that it pays pretty good too.
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. charlie rose: what he did in these profiles showeyou that there is no single way to be able to engage somebody in order to figure out. what makes them tick? wherever it might've been. in the end they got the same results. it is a situation where people 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. charlie rose: 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. the one common trait you have to succeed is that ability. the ability to talk to someone and get it out of them. even more important is that is hard to come by in this world.
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 dolly parton interview twisting his arm to go do it. charlie rose: he didn't want to do it? >> he thought it was maybe a little tablet. that was one of his favorite interviews ever. he said he loved her. so much substance that is what he did not expect is that is why
meryl streep was so great. charlie rose: he likes strong women but strong women understood him. it works both ways. they fell in love with each other. charlie rose: 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. i think we rot away and it is too bad we do.
charlie rose: here is my favorite of all the profiles he did. jackie gleason around the table. here it is. >> did you like that one? orson welles called me the great one first. >> and really not offended by it. charlie rose: my question was, 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. this one done with the wrong end there's the imaginative title of untitled. it was sold for 2 million $145,000. charlie rose: 60 minutes used to mean 60 producers. it is a combination of a correspondenand 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. there are constantly reporters. in the case of david browning,
those four were the best team. that is the dream team. they just had such similar sense. they really are. browning and morley did a wonderful job. you can see them almost touching these documents. charlie rose: try this touch, they were connected to the past. 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. he said, maybe if i want to do this story it might be a hard sell. like steve 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. >> thank you for having me and letting me talk about one of our favorite people. charlie rose: we are 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 was the essence of this man?
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. you always ask the outrageous question. larry king always said don't be 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. he was absolutely brilliant at finding a subjects weak spot. he would go for it with a
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 cronkite 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. he earned 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. charlie rose: he told me once about an ambush style interview that involved what it has undertaken. >> there was a period when it was constant. he was good at it. charlie rose: did he enjoy that? >> i think he grew very weary of
that. >> the broadcaster was benefiting from it. >> the broadcaster was benefiting from it, but everyone felt uneasy about that. we all felt this is not really what we want to be remembered for. charlie rose: so his legacy was? energy, thevity, fact that he became such 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. i think that was reflected in the new york times op-ed the other day.
>> he could probably write a pretty good history of the last half. just based on his interviews. what were we watching? who were the entertainers? who are the politicians? what were the issues? think about it. weaving your way through those interviews, it's a pretty interesting history of most of the century. charlie: morley died this week at age 84. ♪
mark: let's begin with a check of your first word news. prosecutors failed for the second time and efforts to hold a baltimore police accountable for the 2015 arrest and death of freddie gray. officertoday cleared an in his arrest, who died after being injured while in police custody. six other officers charged in the case will have separate trials over the coming months. donald trump met today with u.s. senator bob corker. iswas asked if trump considering him for a running mate or for cabinet position. >> i have no response.