tv QA CSPAN May 20, 2016 1:13am-2:20am EDT
funding of early universal education and professional development, teacher quality, to reach children in low income neighborhoods, because it matters when you get them earlier. that's why we're fighting for, as i said, two years community college, because 12 years of education -- look, if your kids, your grandkids are going to write a senior thesis at a university 15 years from now, and they're going to look back and say, why didn't they know that it mattered how early you intervened? and what made them think that 12 years of education was enough in the 21st century? what made anybody think that? the rest of the world has awakened. the reason why we were so dominant is we were the first nation in the world, including our european friends, to have 12 years of universal education. beginning in the 1950's and 1960's, other nations started to catch up.
folks, 12 years isn't enough. look, we have come a lot way, but a lot more has to be done. let me conclude by saying it comes down to one thing. everybody deserves a fair shot. white, hispanic, black, asian are capable of doing extraordinary things if you give them a shot. just give them the tools. the base foundation, equal access to the same education, a safe neighborhood, a job, transportation get to a job, health care. we just need a chance. you all know it. we just level the playing field a little bit. but folks, the president has sacrificed and struggled, it should not fall to those who are suffering and struggling.
you quoted something for my book i have not heard in a long time, we all, we all, we offer our own safety's sake, we'll be sacrifice a little bit, all of us. we used to be one america, i really mean it, where we thought about things in terms of everybody has responsibility, which everybody talks about this responsibility in a community. but everybody has obligations. everybody has obligations. and the sacrifice is not great, but the reward is enormous. so i am deeply honored to have this lifetime achievement award. but we are not done yet. and i will be right here with you, whether i am in office or
out of office, and soon i will be out of office. i have never been gainfully employed in my life. [laughter] i don't know what the hell i have going to do. i never cashed a paycheck in my entire life. i will need your advice from some of you, but i want to stay involved. i will be right here pushing the next president to level the playing field. ordinary people do extraordinary things. the neighborhood i come from, remember the last campaign i will not mention in particular, but i got offended when one of the candidates say i worked at mcdonald's, and i had dreams. i worked there and i didn't have dreams? i didn't have dreams in my neighborhood? i didn't have dreams?
why can't i play ball? my parents didn't have dreams for them. there is this thing that is a risen, not bad people, but they have this distorted notion that somehow, if you come from a means or of background, you are educated, somehow you dream differently than we do. i am serious, think about it. not a joke. think about it. have you ever known a mother in a tough neighborhood that didn't dream for their kid to go to college and her heart even though she dropped out of school in fourth grade and may be struggling now? have you ever known a family in a tough neighborhood or a barrio that has no dreams for their kids? so give people a chance. i am proud to be associated with you all. god bless you for what you have done, and may god protect our
be on to discuss the new labor department overtime rule issued on wednesday. and then the policy director for the sunlight foundation will talk about the deal between the rnc and the donald trump campaign to jointly fund raise for the general election. he will also discuss sources that donald trump is aiming to raise more than $2 billion. the congressional reporter from military times will be with us to break down the national defense authorization act. c-span'so watch washington journal beginning at 7:00 a.m. live on friday morning. join the discussion. >> a former u.s. ambassador to nato and a foreign -- and a we will have -- live coverage from the atlantic council tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. eastern here on c -- here on c-span. journalist morley safer died
today. he was 84. up next, we will show an interview we did with him on "q&a." born in toronto, he worked for the canadian broadcasting corporation before being hired by cbs news in 1964. in 1970, he replaced harry reeser on "60 minutes." here is our interview from 2012. brian: morley safer, 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 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 why -- i think it is precisely why people watch the broadcast. have few axes to grind. 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 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
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. spectacles. 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. is that a normal desk for morley safer right there? morley safer: i confess it is probably neater than normal. brian: why the big poster? morley safer: the big poster is, 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 refused to speak to me for 20 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 pitching session over coffee. that was an 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. brian: but you had it, how many -- morley safer: i still have the electronic cigarette that, to all intents, looks like a real onand, 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 still 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 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 values and pretty much all of 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." and you are often the top show of the week. you are now getting 10 or 11 or 12 million, and you are still in the top. what does that say? morley safer: there has been an extraordinary revolution. the internet plus the whole
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, 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. i think it is actually not -- that is a very seemly thing to do. brian: one thing i noticed the last four years -- i have never seen you do this in the history of "60 minutes." will 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 you, quite honestly, because he 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. there is always these kind of 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 himself just like to get on the air. brian: that is the biggest audience in information. it has got a bigger audience than any other -- morley safer: pretty much. you certainly get access to an engaged part of the population. brian: do you ever worry about
being 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. a 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 you people. i want to run video of don hewitt. how many years did you 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 as adon was the executive producer of the cbs evening news, the cronkite news, when i joined. shortly after he was fired, and was in a kind of limbo or new siberia for a couple of years. and i had done, i did a 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. he put together of reel of old cbs reports using 10 or 15 minute segments, taking the best of each of them and putting together a reel. he went shopping that around to every executive at cbs. a he went to the london bureau chief, to show it to me, to show the guys in paris. a a trying to sell and get
a support for his idea of this thing he called "60 minutes." he had harry reasoner, the original host in this, in this, call this a pilot if you like. and then he added mike, mike wallace, into the pilot. a 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. are you a later, harry left to go to abc, and they brought me in to take the other guy on "60 minutes." the a and we were not a huge success at all. role will 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 is thought, have little news bulletins at the end, or at the beginning, all kinds of experiments. and then they tried 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. i can't remember 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 you will 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 a weekly magazine that went out on sunday night at the cbc, the canadian broadcasting corporation, called cbc newsmagazine. a it is not on the air anymore, but it was for a good, long time. i had produced, but was not on the air myself, i produced this is broadcast and wrote most of it. so i actually, i actually believed in don's theory before he articulated it.
you for the simple reason -- he is 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 aeven in an hour, never mind 12.5 minutes, which is roughly what each of these would run. brian: what is the longest 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 you stuff ended up on the
cutting room floor. do you remember? when you talked and talked and talked to get what you needed? i 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 going going and going in order to get some sense, or the answers are so clearly just misinformation, and an interview can just become more fighting match, it ends up creating more heat than light. will brian: you were born
or 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. immigrant from austria. my mother came from a family from the east end of london, a cockney girl. my father immigrated, he had a been in the austrian army and immigrated, i think, 1912. mother's family emigrated about 1910, and she was a seamstress. she came from a big family. they came over what is called the assisted passage, where the world entire family, they were is entire family, they were
trained to encourage immigration. anyone could immigrate to canada. a 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] in a 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 are died, and they all worked to the end. don hewitt was 86, andy rooney you are a was 92. product ed bradley was another situation, 65. walter 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 of precisely what the rules were. i think if you were a contract employee, staff people, executives, whatever, i think had to retire at 55. will there was an internal memorandum about that. contract people had no such as limits. will a and look, all the guys will that you mentioned pretty much had their marbles to virtually the end. i mean ed. a don effectively left the 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. [video clip] >> who invented the tick, tick, 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. 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 a much most of the screenings, there was a lot of blood on the floor. a 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 or challenges, the better the her piece was. you are brian: what impact did it have on you, that in your you face personality? morley safer: i could deal with it. i do not mind a conflict myself. brian: really? as morley safer: yeah. don and mike, it was the same with don and ed as well. a don was a tough editor, very, very tough, and some of his ideas were completely mad, i
mean just bananas, crazy, wrong. a but you could talk him down. a and that was the great, don, for all his sometimes crazy and a garish behavior, you could talk him out of a really lousy a idea. and he had a lot of lousy ideas. you but he had some brilliant ones as well. brian: let me go back to your upbringing. her 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. the fifth year, fifth form, was kind of like a first year of college. thats like a baccalaureate you had to pass. i scraped through. i was a pretty good athlete.
recruited byt of the university of western ontario. what sport? and what position? football at half back. it was not an athletic scholarship. was thatcouraged during the football season you got full board. that was one way -- brian: how long did use day? stay? how did you get into the information business? morley safer: i know exactly what i wanted to do. i wanted to be a journalist. era,a lot of all of my
hemingway bit. i was always a great reader. i had a family of readers. i read everything of hemingway's up until that point. he had been a foreign correspondent. also, a toronto star. he covered the spanish civil war. i knew that was exactly what i wanted to do. i tried to get a job here -- all the big metropolitan papers just laughed me out of their offices. i went to a place called woodstock, ontario. the editor there, a wonderful man named ralph berman, he said to me on my first day, safer,
you have no experience at all at this, do you? i said, yes sir, i have no experience. you cannot even tell, can you? he said, you will learn to type. once you type in any kind of proficient way, you know what the first you will be typing is? i said, i do not know. he said, a letter of application to a bigger newspaper. he was almost right. i went from the woodstock paper to the london free press of london, ontario. that was in major metropolitan morning and evening. we have five or six editions in the paper. the days when papers put out five or six editions. they did everything. they would feature stories, breaking news, crime, overnight
shifts. i had a lot of really good experience there. after a couple years, i applied to something called the commonwealth press fellowship, which was a -- you get to spend a year in britain working at one of the national newspapers. "the times" "the telegraph" and "the guardian." i applied for that. they were taking people with ten or 15 years of experience. i had four years. but they liked my application that i sent them.
they said, if you can get yourself to england, we will give you a job at a good paper. so i took my chances and went over and work for "the oxford mail." that was a joy, to be working in oxford at that time. because, even though there is very serious separation between town and gown at oxford, between the university and an otherwise industrial city, one of the big car manufacturers at that time, there was a certain amount of drift between the two. it was great fun. i hung out with a lot of the -- all of the reporters there except for me were oxford graduates. i learned a lot. i learned a lot from them. a very good time.
i came in on my day off. the editor was a man named to w. harford thomas. i came there to pick up my mail because it was my fixed address, i was moving from one rooming house to another. sometimes only half a day, but i had one day off a week. this was a saturday. i went to pick up my mail, and i was wearing a t-shirt. it was a summer. when i picked up my mail, when i came into the office the next day there was a note in my pigeon hole from w. harford thomas that said, mr. safer, we at "the mail" generally prefer
dark clothing. >> if it had been a dark t-shirt, you would have been alright. >> he meant -- and certainly not with a pink tie. >> there are always those moments in life that make a difference and change everything. what was the first one for you? morley safer: certainly the day -- i was back in canada. it was the end of the year of 1963, 1964. they brought back the foreign correspondents. i had been the bureau chief in london for cbc. they brought us back for the year in review broadcast which all the networks did. i was with four or five other correspondents, from paris,
bonn, moscow. these roundtables. we did the broadcast. we 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 should not be telling you this, but i just got a call from cbs and they would like to talk to you. i said, what about? they said, that is all. can you fly to new york? so i did. i walked in to see the news editor.
they said, we would enjoy for you to come to cbs. you must remember, this was a network that created broadcast news, radio first, then television. it was being asked to join the pantheon. it was remarkable. i can't tell you how i was knocked out by this -- do they really mean it? am i good enough? i said, how did you even know about me? they said, one of your correspondents on the year-end show sent us the broadcast. brian: what was that? morley safer: it was something
that preceded the video tape and was essentially a camera shooting off of the screen. it was pretty grainy and unwatchable stuff, but it looked good at the time, i guess. a guy who was our u.n. correspondent had applied for a job that cbs. they looked at the broadcast and called me. i called a couple of people i knew at cbs. one person who i met covering the middle east -- i asked him, should i do it? he said, you don't have any choice. do it. i called jack chancellor at nbc.
i said, jack, should i do it? he said yes. it is a hell of a lot better than nbc. jack was a great guy. if you ask what changed my life, that moment, it certainly was that. brian: i have a review of douglas brinkley's book on walter cronkite in sunday's "washington post," september 9, 2012, written by robert macneil. another canadian? morley safer: canadian. brian: you are still a canadian? morley safer: i am dual citizenship. brian: his first paragraph -- for anybody interested in the evolution of broadcasting, this is a tremendous read. tv journalism's most tremendous phenomenon, walter.
do you agree? morley safer: absolutely. walter got very tired of being described as the most trusted man in america. he knew he should not be. i say that with affection. but walter exuded accuracy, decency, fairness, and i think that this resonated out there. here is a guy who really was level with you. he was not holding anything back. at the same time, he was not engaged in hyperbolic reporting or conversation or interviews. a patriot in the best sense of the word, someone who loves his country so much that he wants to
expose its weaknesses. and it shortcomings. i think that resonated. although we always talked about him being, to his face, about being the most trusted man in america, at the time i guess he really was. brian: a lot of people say, what is patriotic about showing shortcomings? you know there are a lot of people out there -- they have emailed you. they do not like that. morley safer: i know. i do not think they understand the meaning of the word. who said patriotism was the last refuge of the scoundrel? dr. johnson or something like that. that kind of an excessive patriotism, that is a false kind of patriotism.
it is not wanting to hear the truth, a total phony patriotism. i think that there has been so much of that flying around in these last few years in particular, particularly since 9/11. quite honestly, it makes my skin crawl. brian: how much of it to you listen to? morley safer: that is interesting. i am not giving away anything politically about my family or my wife -- we were watching the conventions. my wife, at one of the conventions, said, i do not want to hear this, i do not want to hear this. i said, you have got to hear this.
you cannot sit in front of a television set in the political season and not want to hear what the other side has to say. then you become like them. i am not giving away anything politically. brian: i know you are not -- i want to back to your interview style. we have not talked for 22 years, when you had a book about vietnam and your experience there. we talked about the whole situation you had where you were accused of being a communist. i wrote down, when i looked back at it, the quote from you -- "i am a conservative on most issues." morley safer: i am a conservative on most issues. brian: over the years people have thought you were just the opposite. what do you say to them?
morley safer: most people who get up their dander over this, there is not much point in saying anything because they do not want to hear it. but i tried to explain that i am a a conservative in most things, or, a very old-fashioned liberal in the old british, i will not suggest the imperial britain, the white man's burden and all are of that business, but an old-fashioned liberal who has been very conservative views in terms of fiscal policy. i think the word conservative has been given a really bad name by some of the crazier elements of the right in this country.
what ever happened to conservatives like nelson rockefeller and those guys, who were among the most patriotic are americans? they essentially they were working as politicians to make this a better country, and the other thing -- you got me going here -- the other thing that drives me completely nuts is all of these candidates who are running not as politicians, they will point to the opposition and say, here is a politician, i am a, whatever. politicians are how countries will work. the best moments in this country will were moments designed and a created by politicians.
a it is a good, positive word. a how did fall into such a how did fall into such disrepute? a that is what really drives me nuts -- the destruction of language, making really useful words become inappropriate. brian: let me show you a videotape of a young lady by the name of michelle fields, a guest on this program. she's a lot younger than both of us. she was 22 years old. educated at pepperdine. she's the mix working for the daily caller. and she has a video interview she does. i want you to hear what she says as far as from her perspective, and l lism -- journalism get your reaction it to. >> feel that twitter and
facebook, they don't have a loud voice to become one of the loud etc. voices in media. we see people like matt drudge who has no connection to the media. he's political outsider and look how far he has come. he took advantage. he saw the potential, this new medium which is the internet. internet journalism and his voice is just as loud as the media establishment. brian: reaction. morley safer: appalled. i'm apalled. i don't know if she thinks this is a good idea. brian: no, she does. morley safer: i think good must lism, good reporting work within the constraints of editing. i got a in trouble a couple of years ago. i got some award in canada.
now everybody is on the internet, and one of the problems i had was the internet, in terms of -- everything looks as valid as "the new york times." the typeface, the way things are set up, when you are reading somebody who believes aliens are out to get us, or reading somebody from the op-ed page of "the new york times," it all has the same look, has the same visual sense. i know i seem like a neanderthal when i say this, but i am appalled by half of the stuff that i see on the internet. >> one of the things i want to ask you about -- the brinkley book on cronkite, we learn a lot about his personal politics and his involvement, even asking robert kennedy to run for president during the war. there was a lot of resentment on the part of conservatives, what ever you want to call the right wing, that there is an genda. >> i do not think walter's so-called agenda ever got
expressed in his reporting. i really believe that. and i know that. >> what about the vietnam statement? >> that vietnam statement -- he penly stepped aside from his traditional role and made a ersonal statement. here is not -- that was, believe me, walter really sweated that. he really did a slot that. >> in what way? >> at the way, and i doing the right thing here? >> did you talk to him before you did it? >> i did not. i talked to him a lot about it fterwards. >> you had a similar -- the cam ne incident, the burning of the village by the marines in 965.
people think that might have started a trend against the vietnam war. >> i never said that. people blame me or criticize me or it. i do not believe -- when the country started turning against it, when the country turned against the vietnam war, was when casualties were reaching 100 week in terms of killed. and the people being killed were the sons of middle-class americans because of the draft. that is when the country turned against vietnam. >> what about today and afghanistan and iraq, with a volunteer army. you rarely see a new york city manhattan person killed.
>> because -- think of all those commercials that went out on every broadcast, in particular sports broadcasting, join the army, join the marines, join the navy, get an education. they never said go to war -- they said get a degree. how appealing is that to a young guy with ambition but who can in no way afford college? you do a few years in the service, get under way, get a life. that is the way the military ervice was offered up. it was a huge dose of patriotism as well, of course, but -- so i do not think my story had any particular effect. i do not think walter's story had that much of an effect,
honestly. it was when the casualties start to get over 100 a week, the sons f middle-class families were being lost, that is when, never mind the students protesting, when their parents started to protest. when vietnam in effect was a lost cause. >> what is your take on the iraq nd afghanistan coverage? >> there virtually is no overage. except when something really orrible happens. to most americans, quite onestly, it is what war? most americans are not effected by this.
it is the sons and daughters of working-class americans, pretty much, and people whose families live below the poverty line. >> why no coverage? >> why no coverage? because the sons and daughters of middle-class -- plus, also, not that vietnam was an easy war to cover, but it was a piece of ake compared to covering the kind of war that is going on in afghanistan and was going on in the -- and to some extent is till going on in iraq. we took lots of risks and vietnam, but not the kinds of risks that people have in afghanistan an iraq. >> let me ask you --
>> let me -- vietnam was a civil war compared to this kind of thing. >> what you mean by that? >> there were no suicide bombers, cars been blown up. people were too -- in saigon, the years i covered the war, too civilized. >> civilize for who? >> both sides. ompared to what is going on. >> i started to ask you about your interviewing style -- most of your stuff is not war-related. is that your choice? >> yes. largely my choice. i like doing stories that no one
else is doing. so i like, in terms of prime-time television, so i do a lot of stories that would come under a rather broad umbrella of the arts. >> i want to show a segment of you -- i know that as a big thing. >> 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 rt?" i was accused of being a philistine, somebody lacking the ability to appreciate the hallenging nature of contemporary art like these floating basketballs or another artist dripping plastic. these works are now worth
hundreds of millions of dollars. in fact, contemporary art has become a global commodity, just like oil or soy beans or pork bellies. there seems to be no shortage of people wanting to speculate in it and no shortage of billionaires wanting to invest in it as a haven for their cash r a status symbol. there are not art fairs virtually every weekend around the globe. in contemporary art, none are more important than when we went to in december. >> what made everybody so mad? >> i discovered something i ould barely believe. when you question someone's taste in art, it is more
personal than the politics, religion, sexual preference, something that goes to the very soul. you bought that? t is remarkable. >> do you still paint? >> not enough. it is one of the things i keep -- i have space to do it at ome. i have all the materials to do it, but i am lacking the focus of being able to separate my work from my other life. that is one area in which i am weakest. >> if we saw you in your personal life, doing things that
you enjoy more than anything else, what would we see? >> well, there are two kinds of enjoyment. there is the tortured kind, writing, but there is no greater kick, i find, than writing something, and no greater torture at the same time. it would be writing something or drawing and painting. >> what can you tell us about your wife? where did you meet her? >> i met her when i was london ureau chief. i remember the day, july 4, 1968. cronkite and betsy, walter and a etsy cronkite were coming to ondon.
i cannot remember why. i had been invited to a july 4 evening. a friend of mine, the husband was american, the wife was british. the fellow -- walter had called and said, i met walter at his hotel. i said, i have to go to this party in north london. i'll meet you at the restaurant. i went to this party and there was a young woman who was a graduate student studying at oxford, an american, who was a cousin of the family giving the party. she seemed pretty bright and was very beautiful. i said hey, do you want to have dinner? would you like to have dinner with walter cronkite? she said, who is walter ronkite?
y wife is an nthropologist. she spent a few years living with a tribe of indians in colombia. she was not clued into what was on television. and that was it. i had a bentley, an old bentley, a convertible with a rumble eat. which in british automobile parlance is called a dickey, the rumble seat. so we picked up cronkite, who got in the rumble seat in the open car. he had a lot to drink that night. they were great fun to be ith.
hen we finally ended the evening, which was at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning, driving walter to his hotel, we went past buckingham palace. then, there was no security around. now all the roads are blocked. no security -- the guardsmen out front. walter insisted that i do a few circles around buckingham palace. he got up and did his mpersonation of the queen. the only witnesses were the two guardsmen outside of buckingham palace. >> how long did you date before e married? >> that was july 4 and we were married on october 28. >> who is sarah alice ann safer? >> she is our daughter, who had
a very brief career in journalism and had another career. at the moment she is busy raising twin 6-year-old girls and a 10-year-old boy. >> what marks do you give yourself as a grandfather? >> very low. was not a great father. i was away for some many of those years when she was growing up. that is something i regret. i feel deep regret about it. that i chose not to spend more time with her. >> what you think about your legacy and your papers and all that? does it matter to you? >> i think about it a little bit. i am not obsessed by it.
i think -- i think i have made a contribution, more than some, less than many others. i think to the extent that -- i tried to make interesting use of this medium of television, which s a difficult medium to work and because of the time constraints, simple as that. as i said before, look at an hour-long television broadcast, you'll find a script that will not even cover two pages of "the new york times." >> to have papers and videos -- > i have papers and some videos, and i am giving them to the university of texas, which has a wonderful archive of american journalism and american
history. walter cronkite is giving his papers. andy rooney has. many of the giants of journalism have given their papers there. >> a quote from our interview 22 years ago -- you said, writing the book you had written in 1989 was very satisfying. then he said, i would like to do it again, perhaps in a year or two. what happened? > you know what happens. that is something i have been thinking about a lot, and what keeps me from doing at, i have been asked i cannot tell you how many times to write a memoir, which i have no interest in.