Skip to main content

tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  May 19, 2016 9:34pm-10:43pm EDT

9:34 pm
announcer: c-span's washington journal with policy issues that impact you. coming up on friday morning, the chief policy editor for morning consult will be on to discuss the new labor department overtime rule. and then the director for the sunlight foundation will talk about the deal between the rnc and the trump campaign and the fundraiser for the general election. he also discusses sources that say mr. trump is planning to aim -- raise more than $2 million. and the reporter of the military times the breakdown that national defense authorization act passed by the house on wednesday night. be sure to watch beginning live at 7:00 eastern friday morning.
9:35 pm
join the discussion. tv" has 48 hours of books every weekend. here are some programs. saturday morning at 10:00, we are live for the film festival. wrong," right went annette gordon reed and peter on their book "most blessed of the patriarchs, thomas jefferson and the empire of imagination." "the founding fathers vision of america." greed, power, and endless war. christian green and her book with "something must be done with prince edward county." her, love her not, the hillary paradox." and "the first queen of
9:36 pm
journalism." lawyer, thebor remarkable alliance of new deal attorneys and betsy margolin." the worst i have ever done was committed like a murder in 1991. i shot a man. and one of the worst things you can do. i made that unfortunate decision that day i was 19 and devastated a family, took somebodies husband, son, brother, father. and it was one of the things that we take the state. the reasons i do the work that i do in the inner-city. i never want another child to grow up with that type of burden , because it never goes away. >> the author of "writing my wrongs, discusses years in
9:37 pm
prison and his life after." go to for the complete sick -- schedule. journalist morley safer died today. we will show an interview we did with him on human day -- on q and a. he works for the canadian broadcasting corporation before being hired by cbs news in 1964. he did work on "60 minutes." here is our interview from 2012. brian: good morning. how do you change your approach over the last 42 years on 60 minutes? morley safer: no dramatic difference in terms of reporting the news or doing interviews for the news or, really, even
9:38 pm
between doing what is construed as hard news versus more featury stuff. the same rules apply. you try to get to the core of the story, to the core of the individual. and i think really that is why we have an audience out there for the last 45 years on "60 minutes." it is, i think were slightly wife people watch the broadcast. it is just, we have no or few access -- i do not think we do any at all. i think we are fair. it is the fairness that is the attraction, unlike some much of what you see on cable, where fairness is the last thing
9:39 pm
people are being offered. and i guess to a certain audience, the last thing they want. brian: we have a video from your office. took a camera there. i want you to talk us through than what the environment is, how long you have been there. you can see it on the screen. morley safer: i have to put these on. that is the lobby. and then we have a huge clock, which no one really likes. that is the corridor of where the correspondents all live with their helpers. brian: the mayor. morley a normal desk for safer right there? morley safer: i confess it is probably neater than normal. brian: why the big poster? morley safer: the big poster is
9:40 pm
reflects a story i did 30 years , ago. on the question of whether a major painting at the metropolitan museum was in fact a fake, and the -- it caused quite a controversy, and i had i had friends at the met who me for 20to speak to years have since come around. , the painting is called "the pickpocket" or "the thief." i can't remember. brian: there is a picture right there of you with some of your old colleagues. morley safer: i really miss ed bradley. he was my next-door neighbor in the office. we both were early risers. we went there before anybody else in the morning. we had sort of a morning
9:41 pm
pitching session over coffee. award i got out in california. brian: how much time did you spend there? morley safer: in the office? a lot more now. three or four years ago i decided it was not going to happen -- i was not going to have time. i did not succeed. i spend much more time than i really need to, but it is the habit. i mean, when you get up -- i don't need to tell you this. when you have been getting up in the morning for 60 years, putting on a clean shirt and tie and going into an office, it is a very hard habit to break. brian: we saw you a minute ago puffing on a cigarette. i understand that is not a real cigarette. [laughter] morley safer: it is not. many: but you had it, how
9:42 pm
-- morley safer: i still have the that, toc cigarette all intents looks like a real , one and, to some extent, tastes like a real one. it is just pure nicotine, there is none of the junk or the tar that is in the regular cigarettes. and the smoke that you see is vapor. brian: does it work? morley safer: it certainly works in giving you a nicotine fix, absolutely does work, but there is ill something about the other -- that is why it is called an addiction. brian: this question i'm sure is not a lot of fun to answer, but you'd sat there and watched a whole bunch of your friends die. morley safer: certainly have. just in the last year, we lost andy rooney. a few years ago we lost ed, lost mike, lost joe, a wonderful
9:43 pm
producer i worked with. john tiffin, another long-standing. these were the originals of "60 minutes." it has been a very, very rough year. couple of years. but i must say, having lost some of these stalwarts of the broadcast the broadcast itself , has not been affected. jeff sager took over from don hewitt, certainly the master of "60 minutes," died. and jeff has maintained all the ofues and pretty much all the unwritten rules of putting this broadcast on the air. brian: when i started watching you 42 years ago, you were getting 30 million people watching "60 minutes." top showre often the
9:44 pm
of the week. you are now getting 10 or 11 or still inn, and you are the top. what does that say? morley safer: there has been an extraordinary revolution. wholeternet plus the cable community has obviously fractured the audience. i think, i hear the figure of 60% being bandied about, over 60% of over the air television, network television, has been lost. it is probably more than that. so you know the competition is extraordinary, but on big days , important pieces -- there is a piece on, recently as you know,
9:45 pm
, about the operation to get osama bin laden. we got a huge audience for that. and i think people do turn to us in great numbers when -- in the history-making moments, certainly. brian: may ask you a journalism question? those who watched it saw a reference to the man who wrote the book, mark owen but , everybody else in the country knew his name was bissonette? morley safer: i think that probably we consciously stayed with the original rules. engagement in terms of putting this piece on the air. i don't know the precise details. --hink it is actually not that is a very seemly thing to do. brian: one thing i noticed the
9:46 pm
last four years -- i have never seen you do this in the history of "60 minutes," my last count, you had 12 interviews with the president, mr. obama, since he got involved. i cannot remember you ever doing that many with a president. why so many with this one? morley safer: well, i will tell because hehonestly, says yes. there was no shortage of requests for george w. bush. as i recall, i don't think we ever interviewed with him. i'm wrong he may have been , interviewed once. kind of always these the rules of the game to have a request in for an interview with the president, whoever the president may be. the obama people and obama like to get on the air. brian: that is the biggest
9:47 pm
audience in information. it has got a bigger audience than any other -- morley safer: pretty much. you certainly get access to and engaged part of the population. brian: do you ever worry about being the used? morley safer: of course. of course you always worry about being used, but the presumption always is that at the same time , we are using them. we're not going to be patsies for any administration, and i do not think we ever have been. brian: let me ask you about people. i want to run video of don hewitt. how many years to do know him? morley safer: i knew don from the very beginning of my life at cbs which was in 1964. don was the executive producer of the cbs evening news, the cronkite news, when i joined. shortly after he was fired, and
9:48 pm
was in a kind of limbo or new siberia for a couple of years. and i had done i did a , documentary for them in 1968. on communist china, as it was called. and don was the nominal executive producer. of that broadcast. so i have known don for a long, long time. when i came up for this idea of 60 minutes, he became a kind of willy loman. reel of oldher of cbs reports using 10 or 15 minute segments, taking the best of each of them and putting together a real. -- reel.
9:49 pm
he went shopping that around to every executive at cbs. he went to the london bureau chief, to show it to me, to show the guys in paris. trying to sell and get support for his idea of this bank he called "60 minutes." he had harry reasoner, the this,al host in this, in call this a pilot if you like. mike, mike added wallace, into the pilot. it was his relentless pursuit. they said, ok, ok, ok we will do , it. we will try. we will put you on at 6:00 on a sunday. and so harry and mike went on. later, harry left to go to abc
9:50 pm
, and they brought me in to take the other guy on "60 minutes." and we were not a huge success at all. partly because 6:00 on sunday, football season completely wiped us out. sometimes they would wipe us out to do a kind of 10 minute broadcast, and then they thought, have little news bulletins at the end, or at the beginning all kinds of , experiments. and then they try us on a different night. we went against something called "marcus welby," which was the most popular program on television. and finally we settled, because there is nothing else you could put at 7:00 on sunday. we took off like a skyrocket.
9:51 pm
i can or what year that was, probably 1972 or 1973. i can remember. brian: what have you found that does not work. ? morley safer: what does not work? don hewitt's first rule, and i think he was absolutely right, is we do not cover issues. we cover stories. a major difference. brian: did you feel that way yourself, or did you have to learn that? morley safer: well, without making myself self-important, i had done -- i had executive-produced a half-hour weekly magazine that went out on sunday night at the cbc, the canadian broadcasting corporation, called cbc newsmagazine. it is not on the air anymore, but it was for a good long time.
9:52 pm
, i had produced, but was not on the air myself, i produced this broadcast and wrote most of it. so i actually, i actually theory beforen's he articulated it. for the simple reason -- he would show somebody the script for an hour broadcast. that script for an hour broadcast is about two pages worth of information in the new york times, which you cannot do a lot on television. you have to know your limitations. they are enormous limitations. if you are going to cover issues, there is no way you can do an honest job of that. even in an hour, never mind 12.5 minutes, which is roughly what each of these would run. brian: what is the longest
9:53 pm
interview you have ever done? i know you only use minutes of it in each piece, then all the stuff ended up on the cutting room floor. do you remember? when you talked and talked and talked to get what you needed? morley safer: probably a story that never got on the air. brian: how often does that happen? morley safer: not often at all. if the interview goes on and on and on, generally it is generally is because the subject , is either totally inarticulate, and so you just keep going and going and going in order to get some sense, or the answers are so clearly just misinformation, and an interview
9:54 pm
more fightinge , it ends up creating more heat than light. brian: you were born in canada -- where? morley safer: toronto. brian: what was the family like? morley safer: we were lower working class. my father was an upholsterer, an immigrant. i am first generation from . immigrant from austria. my mother came from a family from the east end of london, a cockney girl. my father immigrated, he had been in the austrian army and emigrated i think 1912. about's family emigrated 1910, and she was a seamstress.
9:55 pm
she came from a big family. they came over what is called the assisted passage, where the entire family, they were trained to encourage immigration. anyone could immigrate to canada. and my brother and sister, i was the youngest. my brother and sister are still alive. brian: how old are they? morley safer: my sister is 86. my brother is 84, about to be 85. brian: you were born in 1920? morley safer: no 1931. , [laughter] brian: making you older than you are. let me ask you about age. i have a list of when people died, and they all worked to the end. don hewitt was 86, andy rooney was 92.
9:56 pm
as bradley was another situation, 65. walter crockett -- cronkite went after the air when he was 85 and lived to be 92. it seems to me in the early days of broadcasting that never happened -- people were allowed to stay beyond 65. morley safer: no, indeed. i can remember, i don't member precisely what the rules were. i think if you were a contract people,, staff executives, whatever, i think had to retire at 55. there was an internal memorandum about that. contract people had no such limits. and look, all the guys that you mentioned pretty much had their marbles to virtually the end. i mean ed. don effectively left the
9:57 pm
broadcast probably when he was 84, something like that. 83 or 84. mike when he was 89 or 90. and rooney right to the end. brian: two weeks later. morley safer: exactly. brian: i want to run that video of don hewitt. this is only 40 seconds, so people that may not remember him know what he looks like. tick, tick,ted the tick at the beginning of "60 minutes?" >> i did, but it was not at the beginning. it was a closing thing, over the credits. the first show -- i said to myself, wait a minute, you have to be crazy to put that at the end. that is in lieu of a theme song. and marvin hamlisch always accuses me of devising the tick, tick to screw some poor songwriter out of a royalty.
9:58 pm
but it just worked. it was at the end, and i moved it up, and it worked. brian: what was his genius? morley safer: the kind of gut instinct that made him a great editor. brian: did you two ever quarrel? morley safer: i do not think we had a screening -- i am overstating this, but pretty much most of the screenings, there was a lot of blood on the floor. don believed in conflict. he had a real passionate belief in conflict. the more you were challenged, the more he challenged you, the more you responded to his challenges the better the piece , was. brian: what impact did it have on you, that in your face personality? morley safer: i could deal with
9:59 pm
it. i do not mind a conflict myself. brian: really? morley safer: yeah. don and mike, it was the same with don and ed as well. don was a tough editor, very , very tough, and some of his ideas were completely mad, i mean just bananas crazy, , wrong. but you could talk him down. don, forwas the great, all his sometimes crazy and garish behavior, you could talk him out of a really lousy idea. and he had a lot of lousy ideas. but he had some brilliant ones as well. brian: let me go back to your upbringing. how much schooling did you get in canada? morley safer: i was not a great student. i got through high school. there were five years. i got through high school, there were five years of high
10:00 pm
school. so the fifth year, fifth form, as it was called, was kind of like the first year of college. so i, and it was -- you had to matriculate. it was like a baccalaureate exam that you had to pass and i scraped through. i was a pretty good athlete and i got sort of recruited by university of western ontario. i mean it was not an athletic scholarship. brian lamb: what sport? morley safer: football. brian lamb: what position? morley safer: i played halfback. it was not an athletic scholarship. i was encouraged to come and what they did, which was important to me at the time, was that during the football season, you got full board, so that was one way of -- brian lamb: how long did you stay? [laughter] morley safer: i think three months. brian lamb: so you didn't get a college degree. morley safer: i did not, i did not, no. i did not even finish freshman year. brian lamb: so how did you get into the information business? morley safer: i knew exactly
10:01 pm
what i wanted to do. that was how i got into it. i knew i wanted to be a journalist. i had i was, like a lot of people of my era, i was hemingway bit. i'd read a -- i was always a great reader, my whole family was a family of readers, and i read everything of hemingway's up to that point. and he had been a foreign correspondent, kansas city star, also the toronto star. he covered the spanish civil war i think for the toronto star. i knew exactly what i wanted to do and tried to get a job here, the you know all of the all of the big metropolitan papers would just laugh me out of their offices. ended up in a place called woodstock, ontario, it was a
10:02 pm
daily newspaper, "woodstock sentinel review." my editor there was a wonderful man named alf berman and he said to me on my first day, "safer, you have no experience at all at this, do you?" and i said "yes, sir, i have no experience." "you can't even type, can you? " i said, "sir, i can't type." and he said "well you'll learn to type here. and once you are typing in any kind of proficient way, do you know what the first thing you're ng is?"o be typig i said, "no, sir, i don't know." he said "a letter of application to a bigger newspaper." and he was almost right. so i moved on from the woodstock paper to the london free press in london, ontario. that was a major metropolitan, morning and evening. we had i think five or six
10:03 pm
editions of the paper, back in the days when papers were actually putting out five and six editions, and did everything. they had police beats, they had feature stories, breaking news, crime, overnight shifts. i really got a lot of really good experience there. after a couple years, i applied for something called a commonwealth press fellowship, which was a -- you get to spend a year in britain, working at one of the national newspapers, which was i think the times, the telegraph, and the -- and the guardian, the three quality dailies at that time. and i applied for that and of course did not, because it was
10:04 pm
like a nieman or something. they were taking people with 10-15 years experience and i had four years or something like that, working on not a major, major paper. but they liked my application and the stories that i had sent them. and they said, "look, we can't pay the freight on this, but if you can get yourself to england, we'll get you a job on a good paper." so i took my chances and went over and worked for the oxford mail in oxford and that was just a joy to be working in oxford at that time. i mean because, even though there is very, very, very serious separation between town and gown at oxford, between the university and an otherwise industrial city it was one of the big manufacturing cities at that that time, oxford -- there was a certain amount of drift between
10:05 pm
the two and it was -- it was just great fun. i hung out with a lot of the -- all of the reporters except for me were actual graduates, so i learned a lot. i learned a lot. and a very, very tough editor. i remember i came in on my day off once, the editor was named w. harford thomas. and i came in to pick up my mail, because that was my fixed address because i was moving from one rooming house to another, so pick up my mail in the office. i came in on -- i got one day off a week, sometimes only a half a day, but i had one day off and i came, i guess it was a saturday. and i went in to pick up my mail and i was wearing a t-shirt and it was in the summer, june or july, and well turned out, but wearing a t-shirt, hot day. went in, picked up my mail, went out. when i came into the office the
10:06 pm
next day, there was a note in my pigeon hole from w. harford thomas saying, "mr. safer, we at the mail generally prefer dark clothing." [laughter] brian lamb: meaning if it was a dark t-shirt you'd have been all right. morley safer: no, no, no. he by dark clothing he meant what you're wearing. and certainly not with a pink tie. brian lamb: what were -- you know there's always those moments in somebody's life that make a difference, that change everything. what was the first big one for you? morley safer: well certainly the day i was back in canada at the end at the end of year of 1960 1963, '64. they brought back all the foreign correspondents. i was the -- had been the bureau chief in london for cbc. they brought us back for these
10:07 pm
year end review broadcasts that all the networks then did. and i was on with four or five other correspondents you know the u.n. guy, the paris guy, the bonn correspondent and moscow, with these roundtables. and we did the broadcast and stayed on after the broadcast for maybe a week or so. and just before i went back to london, i got a call from the cbc representative in new york, who said, "i shouldn't be telling you this, but i just got a call from cbs and they would like to talk to you." i said, "what about? he says, "that's all, so can you go back to london via new york"" so i did.
10:08 pm
and i walked into the -- to see ralph paskman, was then the sort of the news editor. and then he took me in to meet fred friendly and a couple of other people. and they said, "would you like to come to work at cbs?" and you must remember this was the network of murrow. this was the network that created broadcast news, i mean radio first and then television. i mean it was being asked to join the pantheon, remarkable. can't tell you how i was knocked out by this and had doubts you know. "do they really mean this? am i good enough?" and i said, "well where did you how did you even know about me?" and they said, "well we
10:09 pm
one of the correspondents on the on the year end show sent us the kinescope of the broadcast when he was applying for a job." brian lamb: what was a kinescope, by the way? what was that? morley safer: a kinescope was something that preceded videotape and it was essentially a camera shooting off the screen, so it was pretty grainy, unwatchable stuff, but looked good at the time, i guess. and a guy named stan burke, who was our u.n. correspondent, had been applying for a job at cbs and they looked at his broadcast and they called me. they looked at the broadcast and called me. and i called a couple of people i knew at cbs and saying, you know, "should i really do this?" you know winston burdett, who i'd met covering the middle east, he was another one of those murrow boys. you know, i asked winston,
10:10 pm
"should i do it?" and he said "you don't have any choice. do it." i called jack chancellor at nbc, who was a i met on covering the pope's trip. i said, "jack, should i do it? he said, "yes, it's a hell of a lot better than nbc." jack was a great guy. so that's how -- you asked what changed my life or a seminal moment, certainly was that. brian lamb: i have a review of douglas brinkley's book on walter cronkite in sunday's washington post, september 9th, 2012 and it's written by robin macneil -- robert macneil. morley safer: sure. an old friend. brian lamb: of macneil/lehrer. morley safer: good friend. brian lamb: canadian? morley safer: canadian. brian lamb: and are you still a canadian? morley safer: i'm both, i'm dual citizenship. brian lamb: dual citizenship. morley safer: yes. brian lamb: all right. here's his first paragraph and i want you to react to it. "for anyone interested in the evolution and power of broadcast news, this book," meaning the
10:11 pm
cronkite book, "is a tremendous read, minutely documenting tv journalism most remarkable cronkite." walter do you agree? morley safer: absolutely. i think walter -- i mean walter got very, very tired of being described as the most trusted man in america, because he knew he shouldn't be. and i say that with affection. but walter exuded accuracy, decency, fairness, and i think that it was, just, resonated out there that here's a guy who really was leveling with you. he wasn't holding anything back. he, at the same time, he wasn't
10:12 pm
engaged in kind of hyperbolic reporting or conversation or interviews. patriot, in the best sense of the word, the best sense of the word is a patriot is someone who loves his country so much, he wants to expose its weaknesses and its shortcoming. and i think that just resonated, although we always joked about him being -- to his face -- about being the most trusted man in america. i guess in the final analysis, he really was. brian lamb: you know there are a lot of people listening that say, you know, "what's patriotic about showing the shortcomings?" you know that there are a lot of people out there. you've heard them. they've e-mailed you. morley safer: yes. brian lamb: they don't like that. morley safer: i know they don't like that, because i don't think they understand the meaning of the word. i mean who said, "patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel?"
10:13 pm
was it dr. johnson -- or somebody like that? well that kind of -- that excessive patriotism, the flag-waving by instinct is the is a false kind of patriotism. it's not wanting to hear the truth is a total phony patriotist. and i think that there has been so much of that flying around in these last few years, and particularly since the since 9/11. i -- and it -- quite honestly, it just makes my skin crawl. brian lamb: how much of it do you listen to? [laughter] morley safer: that's interesting. i'm not -- without giving away anything politically about my family or my wife or any of that, when we're watching the conventions, when we're watching
10:14 pm
the conventions, my wife at one of the conventions is "i don't want to hear this, i don't want to hear this." i said "no. you've got to hear it." this is what you -- the you know you don't want to hear all -- you don't want to sit in front of a television set in the political season and not wanting to hear what the other side has to say, because then you're becoming like them. i'm not -- i'm not -- i'm not giving away anything politically. brian lamb: i know you're not, but i do want to go back to our interview, we've not talked for 22 years, when you had a book about vietnam and your experience there. and we talked about the whole situation that you had where you were accused of being a communist because -- and i don't want to go through the cam ne thing again. but i wrote down, when i went back and looked at it, the following quote from you -- "i
10:15 pm
am a conservative on most issues." morley safer: i am a conservative on most issues. brian lamb: but over the years, have people thought that you were just the opposite? morley safer: oh, of course you know. brian lamb: what do you say to them? morley safer: there are -- most people who get up -- their dander up over this, there's not much point in saying anything, because they don't want to hear. but i -- what i do try to -- i try to explain that i am a conservative in most things or, and perhaps it's the same thing, a very old-fashioned liberal, in the -- in the old british, i'm not going to suggest the imperial britain --british sense of, you know, "the white man's burden" and all of that business, but an old-fashioned liberal who has very conservative views in terms of fiscal policy. i think the word conservative
10:16 pm
has been given a really bad name by some of the crazier elements of the right in this country. i think whatever happened to conservatives like nelson rockefeller and jack javits and those guys who had -- were among the most patriotic americans that you could think of, because essentially, were working as politicians to make this a better country. and the other thing that -- you got me going here. the other thing that drives me completely nuts is all of these candidates who are running as -- not as politicians. it's a, you know, a point to lead their opposition, say, "he's a politician.
10:17 pm
i'm -" i don't know, whatever. politicians are what makes make countries work. the best moments in this country were moments designed, created by politicians. it's a good, positive word. how did it come into such disrespect and disrepute? that's what really drives me nuts, the -- it's the destruction of language. it's making really useful words become inappropriate. brian lamb: let me show you some videotape of a young lady by the name of michelle fields, who was a guest on this program. she's a lot younger than both of us. she's about 22, 23 years old. she was educated at pepperdine university. she's in the mix, working for the daily caller and she has video interviews she does, but i want you to hear what she says
10:18 pm
today, from her perspective is journalism and get your reaction to it. michelle fields: i feel as though twitter and facebook have enabled people who maybe don't -- are not in the media, they don't have a loud voice, to become one of the loudest voices in media. i mean we see people like matt drudge, who has no connection to the media. he's a political outsider and look how far he has come. he took advantage, he saw this potential of this new medium, which is the internet, internet journalism, and his voice is just as loud as the media establishment. brian lamb: reaction, sir. morley safer: appalled. i'm appalled. i mean i don't know quite what she -- if she thinks this is a good idea. brian lamb: no, she does. morley safer: she does think it's a good idea? brian lamb: yes. morley safer: i think it's a dreadful idea. i think journalism, good journalism, good reporting, must
10:19 pm
work within the constraints of great editing -- it has to. i got into trouble a cple of years ago, i was making a speech, i got some award in canada, and i was talking about the so-called citizen journalism. and i said, "i would trust citizen journalism as much as i would trust a citizen surgeon." you need to work within discipline, within certain disciplines. and i think the matt drudges and these -- many of these others give the real thing a very bad name, because now everybody's on the internet. i mean and one of the -- one of the problems i have with the internet, in terms of reading, everything looks as valid as
10:20 pm
"the new york times," whether it's the type face, the way it's been set up. so when you're reading somebody who, you know, believes aliens are out to get him or reading something from the op ed page of "the new york times", it all has the same look, the same -- makes the same visual sense, and you know i know i'm sounding like a neanderthal when i say this, but i'm just appalled by half of the stuff that i see on the internet, you know. brian lamb: you know, one of the things i want to ask you about is in the brinkley book on cronkite, we learned a lot about his personal politics and his involvement, even asking robert kennedy to run for president, back during the war, and there's a lot of resentment on the -- there was, has been for years,
10:21 pm
on the part of the conservatives in this country or the -- whatever you want to call, the right wing or -- that there is an agenda. morley safer: i don't think walter's so-called agenda ever, ever got expressed in his reporting. i really believe that. and i know that. brian lamb: what about his vietnam statement? morley safer: his vietnam statement, well, there you are, precisely. the -- and he -- where he actually openly stepped aside from his traditional role and made a personal statement. and that's -- i can't say -- there's not another and that was -- and he -- believe me, walter really sweated that. he really did sweat that. brian lamb: in what way? morley safer: well in the way, "am i doing the right thing here?" brian lamb: did you talk to him
10:22 pm
before he did it? morley safer: no, i did not. talked to him a lot about it afterwards. brian lamb: well you have a similar -- we talked about this a long time, the cam ne incident, where the burning of the village in -- by the marines in '65 and i think i read you having said that you think that might have started, or people think that might have started a trend against the vietnam war. morley safer: i certainly never said that. and people have blamed me or credited me for it and i don't believe it. the trend, believe me, the trend -- when the country's turned, starting turning against, when the country turned against the vietnam war was when casualties were reaching 100 a week in terms of killed. and the people being killed were the sons of middle class americans, because of the draft,
10:23 pm
that's when the country turned against vietnam. brian lamb: what about today and afghanistan and iraq, where it was a volunteer army, rarely see a new york city, manhattan person killed in either place. morley safer: yes, because you know think of all of those commercials that went out on every broadcast, and particularly sports broadcasts, of join the army, join the marines, join the navy, you know, get an education. they didn't say go to war, they said get a degree. and how appealing is that to a young guy with ambition, can no way can afford college? give a couple of years in the service and get on your way, get a life. and that's the way the military service was -- and service was offered up, and with a huge dose of patriotism as well, of course.
10:24 pm
but, so i don't think my story had any particular effect. i don't think walter's story had that much of an effect, quite honestly. i think it was when the casualties started getting over 100 a week, sons of middle class families were being lost, that's when -- never mind the students protesting, when the parents started to protest. and when vietnam, in effect, was a lost cause. brian lamb: what's your take on the iraq-afghanistan coverage? morley safer: well, i mean look, i mean the -- there virtually is no coverage, i mean except when something really horrible happens.
10:25 pm
i mean, to most americans, the -- quite honestly, it's "what war?" most americans are not affected by this. it's the sons and daughters of working class americans pretty much, and people whose families live below the poverty line. brian lamb: why no coverage then? morley safer: why no coverage? brian lamb: yes. morley safer: because sons of daughters of middle class and plus it's a -- also, i mean not that vietnam was an easy war to cover, but compared to -- i mean it was a piece of cake compared to covering the kind of war that's going on in afghanistan and was going on and to some extent still is going on in iraq. i mean we took lots of risks in vietnam, but not like the kind
10:26 pm
of risks that guys run in afghanistan and iraq, no way. brian lamb: let me ask you about your interviewing style, when you -- morley safer: let me just brian lamb: yes. morley safer: vietnam, in a certain way, was a civilized war, if there is such a thing. brian lamb: what do you mean by that? morley safer: i mean by -- what i mean by that is there were no suicide bombers. there were no cars being blown up in front of, you know i think there were two car bombs in saigon when i -- the years i covered the war there. brian lamb: civilized for who? morley safer: civilized from both sides in a certain way. i mean, compared with what's going on in -- brian lamb: i started to ask you about your interview style. when you go out and talk to people for your different and your -- most of your stuff is not war-related. morley safer: no.
10:27 pm
brian lamb: is that your choice? morley safer: yes. i mean largely my choice. i like doing stories that no one else is doing. so i like doing -- in terms of of primetime television, so i like to -- i do a lot of arts, you know. i do a lot of stories that would come under the rather broad umbrella of the arts. brian lamb: let me stop here. might as well, i want to show you a little segment of you and the arts. i know that's a big thing. morley safer: almost 20 years ago, we broadcast one of the most controversial stories in our 44 years on the air. it was called yes, but is it art? i was accused of being a philistine, someone lacking the aesthetic sensibility to appreciate the challenging
10:28 pm
nature of some contemporary art. art like jeff koons' floating basketballs, or another artist's dripping faucet. in those 20 years, works that i questioned, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, are now worth hundreds of millions. in fact, contemporary art has become a global commodity, just like oil or soybeans or pork bellies. and there seems to be no shortage of people wanting to speculate in it and no shortage of billionaires willing to invest in it, as a haven for their cash or love of art or as a status symbol. and to feed those beasts, there are now art fairs virtually every weekend round the globe. and in contemporary art, none are more important than the one december. in brian lamb: so what made everybody so mad 20 years ago? morley safer: i discovered something that i had absolutely
10:29 pm
could barely believe, that when you question someone's taste in art, it's more personal, more probing than their politics, religion, sexual preference. it's something that goes to the very soul when you say, "you bought that?" it is remarkable. brian lamb: do you still paint? morley safer: not enough and i keep -- it's one of the things i just keep, i've got the space to do it at home. i've certainly got all of the materials to do it, but getting -- i'm lacking the focus of being able to separate my work from my other life.
10:30 pm
that's the one area of mine that i'm weakest. brian lamb: if we saw you in a, in your personal life, doing things that you enjoy more than anything else, what would we see? morley safer: well there's two kinds of enjoyment. there's the tortured kind that when you're writing you know there's no greater kick, i find, than writing something and no greater torture at the same time. so it would be either writing something or drawing or painting, you know. brian lamb: what can you tell us about your wife? where did you meet her? morley safer: i met her in england, when i was the bureau chief there. i remember the day because it was july 4th of 1968. cronkite and betsy, walter and betsy cronkite, were coming to
10:31 pm
london. i can't remember why. and i had been invited to a july 4th evening by some friends of mine, the husband's american and the wife is british. and that i felt that i had to go to, but walter had called and said, you know, "let's have dinner." so i met walter at a hotel, at his hotel that he got, and i said, "i've got to go to this party up in north london. i'll meet you at a restaurant." i can't remember which one. so i went up to this party, and there was this young woman at the restaurant who was a graduate student studying at oxford, american, who was a cousin of the family giving the party. and she seemed pretty bright and
10:32 pm
she was very beautiful and i said "hey, you want to have dinner?" i said, "you want to have dinner with walter cronkite?" she said, "who's walter cronkite?" [laughter] my wife, she's an anthropologist and she spent a couple of years living with -- in a tribe of indians in colombia, so she really wasn't clued into what was on television and all that. and that was it. walter and betsy, i had a -- i had a bentley, an old bentley convertible with a rumble seat and the -- which in british automobile parlance is called a dicky, the rumble seat. so off we went, picked up cronkite, betsy, who got in the
10:33 pm
rumble seat in the open car and we had a lot to drink that night, walter and i. walter and betsy were great, great fun to be with, i must say. and when we finally sort of ended the evening, which was about 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning, i'm driving walter to his hotel, we went past buckingham palace, and then there was no security around it. now the whole -- all those roads are blocked. no security, so, except for the guardsmen out in front, and walter insisted that i do a couple of circle, circuits around buckingham palace and he got out and did his impersonation of the queen. the only witnesses were the two guardsmen in the sentry boxes outside of buckingham palace. brian lamb: how long did you date before you married? morley safer: that was july 4th
10:34 pm
and we were married in on october 28th. brian lamb: who is sarah alice anne safer? morley safer: sarah alice anne safer is my daughter, our daughter, who is -- had a very brief career in journalism and still may have another career in it, but at the moment she's busy raising twin girls and a 10-year twin 6-year-old girls and a 10-year-old boy. brian lamb: what kind of marks do you give yourself as a grandfather? morley safer: very low. i was not a great father either. and i confess. i was on the road for so much of those years that she was growing up. and that's something i regret and still do feel deep regret about that i didn't -- i did not -- i chose not to spend more time with her. brian lamb: what are you thinking about your legacy and
10:35 pm
your papers and all that? does it matter to you? morley safer: i think about it a bit. i mean i'm not obsessed by it. i think i made a contribution, more than some, less than many others. and i think to the extent that i tried to make interesting use of this medium of television, . it's a difficult medium to work in, because of the time constraints, simple as that. as i said before, if you look at an hour-long television broadcast, you'll find a script that won't even cover two pages of the new york times.
10:36 pm
brian lamb: what will you do with -- do you have papers? morley safer: i have papers and some videos and i've given every -- i'm giving everything to the university of texas, which has a wonderful archive of american journalism. and it's the archive actually of american history. and walter cronkite has given his papers. rooney, andy rooney has. many of the real giants of journalism have given their papers. brian lamb: going to read you a quote from our interview 22 years ago. you say that writing the book that you had written back in '89 was very satisfying. and then you said, "i'd like to do it again you know perhaps in a year or two." what happened? morley safer: well you know what happens. [laughter] i mean come on. that is something i've really been thinking about a lot and
10:37 pm
what keeps me from doing it, first of all, i've been asked, i can't tell you how many times, to write a memoir, which i have no interest in doing. there are one or two subjects that i would like to expand on, but i think what people don't quite understand is the physical strain of writing a book. it's hard work. it's hard physical work and it's very draining. and there's something about a book and the permanence of a book and the hard covers of a book that you really want to make it, at every step of the way, the best it can possibly be, not that i phone in anything i do for television. but there's extra pressure.
10:38 pm
you know there's something about the permanence of a book. i don't have to tell you this. there's something about the permanence of that book, looking at your bookshelf, you -- your name on the spine and you want to be proud of it at all times. brian lamb: we're past time. we're out of time. thank you so much for spending the hour with us. morley safer: well thank you. it's always such a pleasure to talk to you. brian lamb: morley safer, thank you. >> that without 2012 interview with morley safer. died in its home in manhattan on thursday come he was 84. >> the senate not come on q&a, vanity fair columnist and slate magazine founder michael kinsley talks about his new book "old age: a beginner's guide to
10:39 pm
living with parkinson's." >> that was a nonsensical question. but, what i really meant, obviously, was thinking -- it's going to affect my thinking? that the converting important. just,d for this to rolla what is going to happen. me it wasn't tell such a big deal. edge,d, you may lose your as if that was just nothing. edge isought gee, my how it are a living. it is why have my friends. maybe why have my wife. >> sunday night, on c-span's q&a.
10:40 pm
>> this weekend, on c-span cities tour, along with the comcast cable partners we explore the history and literary life of hattiesburg, mississippi. talking with the civil war and the words of those who lived it. the book draws on rare letters and diary entries to tell the story of this of a war through the eyes of both the soldiers and their families. and how important keeping in touch was for those on the battlefield, and their family members back home. >> so many women were writing to their men on the front saying i don't know exactly what you're fighting for, but you need to go home because we have about a fifth of the crop that we normally do. inust buried our youngest the back, everyone have anything left. you need to come home. war, examine the vietnam the 1967 experiences of charlie company, with author andrew wiest, discussing the battlefields of vietnam and what
10:41 pm
soldiers had to deal with upon returning home. >> the nonveterans have been used as political footballs, and as part of a morality play. had anybody had gotten to tell their story, who they were in andman before they went, the trauma of whether they went through. it is funny times, it is verbal at times, and in the generation since have been home. >> and the 1966 lying of civil rights activist vernon dahmer at the hands of the ku klux klan told by his widow and eldest son. anybodyhat reason did want to come and kill? it happen as a result of the owners in the head of the klan said go annihilate him. and they came to kill the whole family. >> learn about the freedom summer school program during the summer of 1960 four, when
10:42 pm
volunteers from around the country taught african-americans in mississippi methods of nonviolent resistance, and encourage voter registration. preparing churches, and informing them of their political rights and getting ready to latest to vote. >> this weekend, watches he's been cities tour to hattiesburg, mississippi on c-span 2's book tv and on american history tv on c-span3. presidentialblican candidate donald trump talks about the presidential race and the crash of egypt's air flight. he spoke at a campaign event at lawrenceville the jersey. he was "chris christie, who has campaigned for donald trump at several events.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on