tv Charlie Rose PBS May 23, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
>> rose: welcome to the program. tonight, an appreciation of morley safer. "60 minutes" correspondent who died this week. jeff fager, executive producer of "60 minutes" and close friend of morley's. >> writing in the spoken word and broadcast language, he worked hard at it. he was naturally gifted as a writer. incredible command of the language. he, i think, took it to another place on "60 minutes." writing for the ear, also to the picture. that was a imaginicle combination. in "60 minutes," he created that jagenre, the piece, kind of whimsical adventures in his voice which was so unique. >> rose: we conclude this
evening with a conversation with morley safer, jeff fager and steve craw talking about mike wallace. >> we were all in the trenches but mike was particularly diligent about that. he would find one kernel in the research that he knew would find the core of the story. >> rose: an appreciation of morley safer for the hour. next. >> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by the following: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications
from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: morley safer, a friend and long-time correspondent for cbs news and "60 minutes" died in his home thursday in manhattan, cause of death knew moan . i can't he was 84. he was the longest serving correspondent in "60 minutes" history. over five decades he produced 919 reports. often he traveled over 200,000 miles a year for stories. he exposed frauds, investigated crimes, profiled politicians and editors, opera singers and writers and chronicled a time of change in america. it was in his coverage of the vietnam war as a young cbs correspondent that he first made a name for himself in. 1965 he edit a report showing a u.s. marine in vietnam sitting a hut on fire with a cigarette lighter. the broadcast almost
single-handedly ushered in the era known as the living room wars. >> if there were vietcong in the hamlets, they were long gone alerted by the roar of the amphibious tractors and the heavy barrage of rocket fire laid down before troops moved in. the women and old men who remain whether never forget that august afternoon. today's operation is the frustration of vietnam in miniature. there is little doubt that american fire power can win a military victory here, but to a vietnamese peasant whose home means a lifetime of back-breaking labor, it will take more than presidential promises to convince him that we are on his side. >> rose: president lyndon johnson tried to have cbs censor
him. in his mid 20s he joined the cbc as a television correspondent and moved to cbs where he achieved his dream of becoming a foreign important. he was first based in london, most quickly reassigned to saigon where he covered the vietnam war. after reporting in vietnam, china, elsewhere, he returned to london in 1968, this time as cbs bureau chief. two years later, he joined the newly-created news magazine "60 minutes." it was on "60 minutes" that he reported on lynne lanelle jeter. all the things you've done, where do you stack this up, because you clearly had the most important impact you had on a man's life. >> for that very reason, the lanelle jeter story is the most important story. >> rose: he got out of prison. the woman who produced that
was suzanne st. pierre. the associate producer researcher was marty palmer. we decided at the beginning, i was not convinced that lanelle jeter was incident because the court said he was guilty which is a good reason. there was a lot of funny stuff in the trial and questionable evidence, and i said to the other two, i said, look, let's assume he's guilty. let's go out on this story assuming justice happened to the extent he was found guilty but an injunctionties was done because you don't give a man a life sentence for a 25-buck robbery or something like that. and it was absolutely the way to go on the story because, as we peeled the layers off this onion, we became more and more convinced, as time went on -- it
took six, seven months to do the story because, in the end, what suzanne and marty did, we came up with more evidence, suppressed evidence and phony evidence. >> rose: the most important story of his career aired in 1983, the piece concerning lanelle jeter a young engineer in texas sentenced to life in prison for armed robbery. safer's investigation eventually absolved the man of wrongdoing and got him off death row. in addition to his reporting that won him 12 emmys, 3 3 peabodys, he reported on the orient express. >> if you're lining me, you're traveling and would be cast back to 1925 where traveling was not getting from a to b, it was an
adventure. suppose you had a few dollars to get from paris to istanbul. this is how you would go, first class on the orient express. >> rose: morley safer retired may 11, 2016, only eight days before his death. near the end of his life he made a peculiar admission. he said i don't like being on television i find it intimidating, discomforting, makes me uneasy. he was a complex man to tend, he is dearly missed. jeff fager joins me, my friend, also the executive producer of "60 minutes." he was very close to morley and moded iproduced many of his sto. welcome. >> thanks, charlie. >> rose: you knew him and worked with him. when did you first met him? >> in the london bureau, which was always a special place for him and me, too. i was based there in the middle
'80s and morley would come through and work with his brother john tiffen. those two did so much together and traveled the world together. tiffen really was his brother. >> rose: his producer? he wasn't his blood brother but they spent so much time together and they were a brilliant team so morley would come through london. he loved it. , to points further on across the globe. i thought, oh, my gosh, wouldn't it be amazing to some day work with morley safer? i got to "60 minutes" at the end of the '80s. steve kroft and i joined together and a couple years later i was fortunate to get on his team. it was a dream. >> rose: much has been said about his capacity to put words to picture. >> it's true. it's funny. the tradition at cbs news which starts with fred friendly and ed murrow is just the opposite,
it's words for the ear and writing for the ear and that's what we were taught by don hewitt. morley wrote in the spoken word, the broadcast language, worked hard at it. he was naturally gifted as a writer, incredible command of the language, but he, i think, took it to another place on "60 minutes." he really did. writing for the ear, also to the picture, and that was a magical combination. in "60 minutes," he created that genre, the piece, kind of whimsical adventures, you know, in his voice, which was so unique. >> rose: what about the combination, when harr harry rer went to abc and morley came to join he and mike, the two of them. >> that was tough for morley.
>> rose: two different men with different kinds of experiences and mindsets. >> so different. that's where don hewlett's experience comes in because he knew the mix would be great for the magazine. i don't think don predicted the feistiness that would follow. from the get-go, they'd both want to do the story and the next thing morley knew, mike would be out doing it. >> rose: how did mike do that? morley once asked mike on a tribute we did to mike, you know, were you threatened by me when i got there? and make said, no! you were nothing compared to me! (laughter) and, you know, morley admitted to me that it took him literally two to three years to figure out how to deal with this guy because mike was so tough, he would steal a story from his own sornings which he did in later years, without much trouble.
>> rose: that says something about his drive and ambition. >> well, mike was amazing. he was such a fabulous character. again, they both were. working with don hewlett, what a trio. it's amazing to think about them. and they're all gone. it's hard. i remember them so well and the way they mixed it up, and just full of life and larger than life. >> rose: how about you? you have become the keeper of the flame. >> yes, that's true. >> rose: it really is. you're writing a book about "60 minutes," but we go to these services -- >> yes, we do. >> rose: -- for people you've worked with. >> i know. >> rose: and you see their work there. >> mm-hmm. >> rose: and you see what "60 minutes" has meant to the world, and then you see what they're meant to "60 minutes," and then you see the character and the breadth of "60 minutes." and i'm saying this as someone who's fortunate to have worked there. but, you know, you're the keeping of the flame. >> yeah, it's interesting, charlie, i have been thinking
about it -- we tend to have a lot of memorial services, funerals, both on and off-air and i think that's a function of being around half a century. >> rose: it happens in longevity. >> yes, we have babies being born, people dying, it's the way it works. you know, morley had a very full life. this is not a sad story at all. we miss him. he had a great, brilliant life and career and he loved his life. >> rose: he said it on the show, i said any regrets? he said, absolutely not. every part of it -- >> yeah, he loved it. i think it's true, a part of the longevity involves maintaining even losing these stars and these big figures and larger-than-life characters, but maintaining the standards and values we all stand for, and i think that's when you say keeper of the flame, that's my role is to make sure that we don't veer off course in terms of what we stand for, what we're about, what kinds of stories we cover,
how we tell them, the real values that actually don hewlett taught us that he learned from, the people who built cbs news. >> rose: morley safer, you have a guy when he covered the burning of the hut in vietnam, and they said, we have to burn the village to save it -- >> yeah. >> rose: -- a great reporter in battle, and at the same time he came back and continued to do those kinds of hard-news stories, but also began to show us the range of his passion. >> mm-hmm. >> rose: i mean, i love the piece, and he came here to talk about it when it became controversial about art and modern art. >> oh, boy... >> rose: and he was defending that story for years. >> the rest of his life, he really was. they still don't like him for that story. >> rose: but he loved to paint, he loved art, and the quizzical ten of that piece. >> i don't think -- the quizzical done o tone of the pi.
>> i don't think anybody has the range in broadcast journalism like that. look at the courage it took to report the story in vietnam. they came after him really hard. >> rose: the president, the pentagon. >> they came after him, they said, and he loved repeating it, l.b.j. said, what, is he a communist? and they said, no, he's a canadian. (laughter) >> rose: i knew there was something wrong with the guy. >> but it elevated his profile. people knew that took a lot of courage. whey reported what he saw. what he remembered most is the soldier said to him, we're going in to punish this village. he'd never heard that in his time in vietnam. >> rose: punish this village by burning this village. >> mm-hmm. >> rose: did he somehow contribute to the evolution of "60"? because at the time he came, it was young, two years after the broadcast started. it had mike who had a very
strong definition primarily as an interviewer. >> yes. >> rose: and then morley comes with a wider range. >> he evolved it significantly, i think. it's funny because people forget. he was on tuesday nights at 10:00. it was up against marcus welby, m.d. >> rose: the number one show in the country. >> yes, and on every other tuesday, swapping with cbs reports. so it was likely fragile. it got critical acclaim in the early years. the critics loved it. so i think it had some promise because of that. but morley had it written into his contract that when the show was canceled, he got to go back to london. that was in the contract. >> rose: sounded like something you put in your contract, too. >> i know, i agree. that london bureau is still -- >> rose: because he was a cosmopolitan man. >> yes, he was. >> rose: but canadian, china, and was it shanghai? >> yes, the thing about morley, he fit so well at cbs because he admired the murrow boys so much
and they were really gentlemen in accordance. >> rose: well read, highly educated. >> well read, well dressed. >> rose: there was an elegance about him. >> there was and he was always a dapper figure himself. >> rose: what did you learn about reporting from being his producer? >> i think that morley teaches as you look at the stories and when you work with him is that the power of observation, he went out in a story and he lived it and he saw things that most reporters don't see, and it was great to watch those come to life on paper, you know, after we'd get back, and he really was a masterful storyteller. >> rose: wa was the conflict between morley and mike continuous until mike left the broadcast? >> they went for months without talking, they really did. >> rose: would not speak. for months at a time. >> rose: and had to bunch into
each other. >> and their office doors were right next to each other and they would go for months without speaking and then somehow patch it up. they were big at writing notes back and forth and don would get involved and would be in a fight with one of them, too. >> rose: did that add to the quality of the broadcast? >> i think it probably did. don thought it did, that the competitive nature, which is still there -- >> rose: oh, boy. people like to compete in terms of having it -- >> rose: well, everybody wants a great story. >> and in this day and age, we don't have that kind of competition externally that we used to have. >> rose: because anybody who's good enough to work at "60 minutes" knows what a good story is. you can smell it, see it and feel it and you can't get your blue card in fast enough. all of a sudden, five arrive on your desk at the same time. >> it happens, and that's when the fighting always began. but they'd patch it up and then something else would come up.
i'll never forget when harry reasoner retired and we were at his retirement party at the russian tea room, poor harry was probably 64 and seemed and looked older. he was a lovely guy, he really was, but i was working with morley, hand he and mike got into a fight in the middle of this retirement party over a story. and, i mean, the sad part is nobody really paid much attention. >> rose: nobody remembers the story. >> nobody remembers what the story was. we all remember harry reasoner. the guy didn't get much attention at all for his retirement. >> rose: ho how long did you wok for him as his producer? >> four years. >> rose: the bulger, and the brother whitey bulger in the news when arrested in california, johnny depp played
him in a movie but here is a report produced by jeff fager and reported by morley safer in 1992. here it is. >> the perception of power is just about the same thing as having power. if people think you have it, you have it. >> and you do nothing to discourage that perception? >> and there is value in it for me. >> it can be very useful as in the says of boston edison. >> of course. yeah. >> they were polluting the air. right. particularly polluting south boston, your constituency. >> right. what did you do about it? i called them in and reasoned with them. it was impossible, they said. i said, well, you're going to gas very soon. i said you either go to gas or the mass turnpike extension goes right through your plant. (laughter) i reasoned with them. (laughter) >> kidding, folks.
the extension to have the mass turnpike will be at your front door. it's a joke, everybody knows it's a joke. but it also enhances the reputation that, on the real stuff -- >> right. -- he is going to be that tough. >> yeah. there is something to that. >> bulger keeps the attention with the press alive by not granting interviews. >> who the hell are they? he was reluctant to do one was as former state treasurer mr. crane reminded him. >> can't wait to see that show. oh... (laughter) >> you will wish it were "60 seconds." (laughter) >> rose: what mr. crane might have been jabbing his good friend about is the sensitive issue of billy bulger's brother james known as whitey, a convicted felon who served final in prisons including alcatraz for bank robbery and has since become according to the feds one of the most feared mobsters in boston. >> morley is going to be good to me, aren't you, morley?
that's how they all start out, i'm your pal! >> just remember, i'm editing it. (laughter) >> grab your camera and get out of here. (drum snap) (laughter) >> rose: how great is that. he's doing tough interviews. >> yes. >> rose: he does it with a sense of curiosity. >> yeah. >> rose: and a sense of enjoyment. >> yeah. >> rose: you know, he's enjoying the whole thing. >> yeah. i think you're a lot like that, charlie. he just loves it. he loved it. he loved being there. he loved sort of the banter and the give and take and the back and forth, and getting thrown out was the best thing, you know. it was icing on the cake for us, really. it was brilliant. >> rose: i loved it when the other guy said "you're going to wish it were" 60 seconds ."
>> the treasury secretary of the state of massachusetts. >> rose: and the former governor. >> and he and bulger were pals, republican and democrat in massachusetts. but crane ran into morley about ten years later at the front of one of the hotels in boston and morley was getting into a car and he said, morley, where are you going? and morley said, i'm going to the courthouse. going to the courthouse. he said, morley, you're not guilty! you didn't do it! (laughter) >> rose: it was great. it was great. they loved him in boston, morley. >> rose: oh, yeah. take a look at. this morley at this table in 1993 where he talked about how he got started in reporting. >> why reporting? what brought you to the newspaper business? >> i went to college for about four months, a long time ago, got very restless. i'd always wanted to be -- i
wanted to be a reporter and particularly a foreign correspondent since i was probably 12. >> rose: was there an image in your mind? you'd loved the subject matter or had seen a television show or movie -- >> this was pre-television, charlie. it was hooked on hemingway like a lot of other people. >> rose: oh. so by the time i was, i don't know, 18, 19, a freshman in college, i thought, you know, i'm learning about economics -- i want to see economics and i want to know about it. i haven't ti want to be feelingd i just dropped. i left and got a job on a newspaper called the woodstock central review which i describe as barely a daily paper, should have been weekly but we managed to put out a daily paper in woodstock, ontario. >> rose: so i was thinking
about this, if in fact morley did earnest hemingway, if he had been available at the time or mike did, would there have been two very different kinds of stories? >> yeah, they really would have been. i think that's a story that really needed morley because his ability to express, to tell a story was, i think, the best of any with the exception of charles ca roe lt. >> rose: that was his core competence, telling a story. >> it was, he could do a good interview, and he did everything well, by the way. if you look at that body of work, 900-plus stories -- >> rose: 919. -- there are all kinds. >> rose: those were the days, weren't they? >> it's amazing, a lot of stories. but there are all kinds of stories, and he did them all so well. but the ones you really remember of morley -- and by the way, there's a great paragraph at least in every one of them -- >> rose: and where you see his defining style? >> yeah, the storytelling.
you know, and likely as i said, it's -- and really, as i said, it's just his command of the language. >> rose: people come to "60 minutes" as reporters at cbs news and i assume elsewhere. >> yes, mostly from cbs news reporting. >> and they learn "60 minutes." yes. >> rose: what happens? what's the process, becoming a cbs news correspondent in the london bureau or the los angeles bureau? >> well, it depends on the time you came, by the way, because morley was trained by the original people at cbs news. >> rose: right. and so was don hewlett. >> rose: these were morley's producers. >> morley got there afterwards. dick was in charge, fred friendly was present when morley arrived, those are the giants in cbs news and our tradition and
values and standards. the way we tell stories, which is really different, and we could spend an hour talking about this right now, is there involves a simplicity, it involves a spare, not a lot of adjectives, a simplicity, yet when morley would find the right word, you know, it would change the story dramatically. so in keeping -- and i think that the cbs news, the reason we've had cbs news correspondents all these years is because they learn that and have learned that over the years, the cbs news style, i have a board in my office which is forbidden words that we don't like news speak. >> rose: what's a forbidden word? >> "clear" is the number one word on the list. it's news speak. you only hear reporters say the kind of words that are on that board and we don't allow them on "60 minutes" because it's not how you tell a story typically.
clear is the most overused word. exclusive is, too. we don't use that either. but "clear" sounds like reporters are supposed to sound. they use that word. the truth is nothing is clear. >> rose: this is the cultured "60". >> yes, it is strong and intense. one of the things we focus on, and you have been there so many times, charlie, we will go over every line. >> rose: yes. we'll look at every word. i remember morley and don, when they would get into a fight, it would usually be about one word and would be because morley likely wanted the word and don believed a lot of americans didn't know what it meant. (laughter) >> rose: and that was part of his own mission. >> yes, but another part of our culture which is fred friendly, which is you're never to underestimate the audience, that's important. never ssume they know more about you do than the story. >> rose: never underestimate
the intelligence of the audience but never overestimate how much they know. >> that's right. >> rose: feel free to explain it in a way. >> it's important. >> rose: don hewitt and you have been executive producers. >> yes. >> rose: what is it that happens, in your words, in a room that you have been so often with morley, with mike wallace, with me, steve kroft, all the reporters who come, what is it that you define your core competence? >> well, i like to think that, when you see a story on "60 minutes," it looks like it belongs there. (laughter) >> rose: and fit doesn't make it? >> we've had clunkers that don't make it, but most the time that's what i do bring, i bring a consistency.
i learned from don hewitt. he was the great story teller. the job is as executive producer 90% editorial about what kind of story we're going to do, about who we're going to interview, about approving stories or saying no to them, about maintaining mix of stories, about how many profiles are we going to do, how many movie or book stories are we going to do -- very few by the way because there is so much of that out in the world -- right down to the structure of a story. and there is a way we tell our stories, and we want them to be, as i said, to feel like "60 minutes" stories. that can be a difficult project. sometimes they notvolves five or six or seven screenics of a story, sometimes two, and morley's were never a long process. if he would go back to rewrite or restructure a story, he would
come back the next day with a fresh story ready for air. >> rose: and had been responsive to the questions that were raised in the editing session. >> yes. >> rose: take a look, that is morley talking to me in 1993 about the significance of his vietnam coverage before he came to "60 minutes." >> rose: speaking of vietnam, the most important shaping of your reporting career? >> no question the shaping experience of both the reporter and the man. >> rose: right. and i don't think there is a vietnam veteran, regardless of whether it's civilian or serviceman, who wouldn't say the same thing. >> rose: why? eporters tend to spend more time there than most the g.i.s, except the ones that chose to reup. >> rose: yes.
the term was close to a year for most servicemen. >> yes. first of all, death close up -- i covered a lot of wars before vietnam, in africa, and they really were flashpoint wars. they were over about the time you got there, or maybe a couple of days. i covered a couple of wars in the middle east, and those wars were very brief wars. there was the hundred hours' war and the six-day war in the middle east and a continuing guerilla action in cypress that, in retrospect, wasn't as bad as what was happening in northern ield, whic -- northern ireland h is hardly a big war. but this was full-blown war in which every day, pretty much, you saw death. you know, there is a certain minor survivor syndrome of every
dead guy you saw, you felt good that it wasn't you. >> rose: there but for grace of god. >> exactly. >> rose: first of all, you've sat in so many editing rooms and now putting together the special that was on "60 minutes," but here he was, you know, in a conversation, like he's sitting at the table. >> yes, it's therapeutic for us. i think we're lucky that way that we have this great interview of conversation that you had with him, and we get to see it, and, you know, a lot of people, when they're in grief and mourning, they don't have that luxury, and it is. when we lost bob simon about a year ago, we did the same thing. it was after his death, which was unfortunate. we got to honor morley, and he saw it on sunday. it was really great. >> rose: two days before he died. >> what i said at bob's funeral is come by, you know, to "60 minutes," to all of his friends, and you walk around the edit rooms and you hear his
voice coming out of all of them, and there is something therapeutic about it. we have been through this process. we actually have a name for it. morley helped name it, called pine box productions. it's a real unit. warren is the great editor. >> rose: pine box productions. and morley understood pine box productions were putting this story together we heard last sunday. >> rose: he knew he was dying. yes. >> rose: how did he approach it? >> as he approached everything else, really honestly. he didn't try to sugar coat it? deny it. >> he didn't try to deny it. he just said it. he said, i'm dying. this is it. and we believe and the nurses who were close to him and were wonderful, at his home, told us that they believed, after the special, that he'd let go. >> rose: let go. yeah, and he did. >> rose: saw the special. saw the special. i spoke -- >> rose: and whatever
resistance -- >> maybe so. it happens all the time. you hear of it. he was so appreciative after the program. i said, morley, we can't do enough for you, and look what you've done for us? >> rose: what did he say. he was very hum snoobl you know it was meaningful to be in the room. >> it was meaningful. >> rose: he viewed in this conversation and the others i had with him the love of the work was so clear. >> yeah. >> rose: he felt like it was a gift. he knew he had talent, skills, knew he could write like a poet, but he thought, to be able to do this -- and he said famously, recently, and it pays pretty good, too. >> pays pretty good, too. (laughter) you know, you see him in these conflict situations, and i think it's a lesson in journalism, which is in terms of the people who do really well, doing what he does, which is storytelling, under that deadline pressure,
daily deadline pressure where you have to file your piece and get it into the evening news, they used to ship it from vietnam two days later, but they were still under really intense deadline pressure to get ut done and get it on a plane, and that's the kind of discipline that's required is to be writing and think how you're going to tell your story while you're reporting it. by the way, the other thing about him when you say joy of what he does that reminds me of you, chamber, a love of what you do and a love of life, is i like being with you. what i miss is he always wanted to laugh. if it was a tough day or if we were having trouble with a story, i just liked going in his office and hanging out with him and we'd always end up laughing. >> rose: and the wide range of his curiosity. >> oh, my gosh, everything. if you weren't curious about something when you were with him, he'd wonder.
>> rose: he'd wonder about you. >> something must be missing. he really was naturally curious, and he didn't understand when people weren't. >> rose: mike wallace was one of the great interviewers ever, clearly was. >> yes. >> rose: but what morley did in these profiles shows you there is no single way -- >> no. >> rose: -- to be able to engage somebody in order to figure out -- because mike said this to me at this table, you know, what you really want to know is what makes them tick. >> that's right. >> rose: what is it that makes them tick, for mike, whoever it might have been. but with morley, too, and they approached it differently, but in the end they got the same result. >> yeah, and i think it's interesting, they did approach it differently, and i think that, with morley, it's a situation where people like him so much that they want to tell him. i think that has a lot to do with really good reporters. if they're really likable, they tend to get information. >> rose: absolutely. and it's almost like, i think,
they don't want to disappoint you. if they like you, they don't want to disappoint you, they want to share. they go beyond where they might go because they don't want to disappoint you. >> and mike knew how to be both. he'd beat it out of you if he had to. you're not going to get away with anything, and i think they had that in common. >> rose: but in tend what they had in common is what makes people tick. they both came from different places with a central question, who are you and what makes you tick. >> i think the one common trait you have to succeed at "60 minutes" as a correspondent is that ability to talk to somebody and get it out of them. and i think that, even more important, that is hard to come by in this world of reporters, that someone who's able to listen and respond spontaneously, that seems natural and easy, but it's not. it's a rare trait. >> rose: in the special at the you did, steve kroft who wrote, i thought, really wonderfully about morley, talked about the number of profiles he had done
with women, yes, that's right. yes. >> rose: helen maren, i remember him, obviously, kate >> meryl streep. >> rose: what was it about he and women? >> i think it was respect. i think he loved a strong woman. it was funny, because i remember with the dolly parton interview, twisting his arm -- >> rose: did you produce that one? >> no, i was executive producer. twisting his arm to go do it, bill owens and i. >> rose: he didn't want to do it? >> no. >> rose: because? i think he thought -- >> rose: it was too showbiz-y? a little tabloid, why dolly parton. that was one of his favorite interviews. he came right into my office when he returned and said he loved her. >> rose: he loved her. so much substance. that's what he didn't expect.
that's why meryl streep was so great. he loved helen merrin. these are women of real substance. >> rose: one of two things, clearly that he like strong women, but strong women understood he admired women. >> yeah, i think so. >> rose: works both ways. comes across in that interview. helen merrin, they fell in love with each other on camera. >> rose: i think she suggested they could undress right in front of the camera. >> and they walked off hand in hand into the sunset. >> rose: what happened then. pretty amazing. >> rose: i'll go to this one. this is morley with katherine ke hepburn, a unique character. >> every time someone compiles a list of the most admired women, katharine hepburn. >> this becomes the style. doesn't mean much, does it? >> no, but there is got to be something there. >> all the debras have died off.
i'm all that's left. i'm in a safe group. i haven't got this rough minutic feeling about age, i think we rot away and it's too god dam bad we do. (laughter) >> rose: here's my favorite of all the profiles we do. you see one of the pictures of this in the "60 minutes" halls. jackie gleason and morley around a pool table. >> you like that one, pal? tell me something -- the great one, where did that come from? >> well, orson wells called me the great one first, and then lucy started to call me that, and i'm really not offended by it. >> did you ever really believe it? >> you just saw me play pool, didn't ya? >> rose: now, my question, was that the last byte of that
piece? was that the end? it's a great ending if not. >> it was such a great piece. that's alan weisman whom you've worked with a lot. >> rose: who loved gleason. morley came up with a nickname for alan, sparky. alan is not sparker, probably why he came up with it. but alan, morley gives him credit for deciding to do that interview in a bar with a pool table, and that's what brought out such an amazing exchange with that classic character. >> rose: that was a brilliant insight. >> it was. >> rose: here is another one, with an interesting take. this is morley talking about contemporary art, and his own sense of is it really art? here it is. >> recently, a vacuum cleaner just like this one and the one down in your basement was sold for $100,000. also a sink went for $121,000,
and a pair of urinals for $140,000. >> i was giving a definition of life and death. this is eternal. >> a canvass of scrolls done with the wrong end of a paint brush bears the imaginative title of "untitled" which cy quably and sold for $2,145,000, and that's dollars, not quamblys. (laughter) >> rose: he used to say "60 minutes" meant 60 producers. it is collaboration. >> yeah, and i think that's really a big part of ybz as well. everybody's a reporter, five or six or seven happen to be on the air in "60 minutes," but there are 75 reporters, and, you know, the producer plays such an important role, they're all reporting stories, constantly reporters.
and i think in the case of david browning who did the tribute sunday with warren lustik and katy and john -- >> rose: the dream team. also, and i think particularly browning who worked so closely and warren with morley, browning was like tiffen to morley. they had such similar sensibilities. i hired browning to come to work i think the first year i took over. >> rose: they're all wordsmiths. >> beautiful writers who have sensibilities about what kind of stories they want to tell. browning and morley did a wonderful piece on the vatican library. >> rose: we saw that in a special where you can just see -- i mean, it's a sense of history and morley almost touching these documents. >> true. >> rose: a sense of, by this touch, i am connected to the past, i am connected to a powerful force in life, religion. >> and they did the coliseum.
>> rose: oh, yeah. within a couple of years of that. and i think that part of that was also morley just getting back to italy, you know. (laughter) you know, it's not that hard to find a great story in italy. that was morley's philosophy. >> rose: we had a thing on "cbs this morning," we did some stuff i had done with him, and i made the point with him, i said, you pretty much can do whatever you want to. and he said, well, you know, maybe if i wanted to do a story at slovinkian windows, it might be a hard sell, but probably. >> steve kroft and a few others, morley, there are a few people in that category, you want to go do something, feel that strongly about it, it's going to come back well. >> rose: if they want it, there is something there. >> yeah, just great story tellers. it got to a point where morley really did have carte blanche.
you know, whatever you want to go do, sounds fine because it's going to come back well. >> rose: what did morley safer mean to you? >> he meant so much to me on so many different levels. you know, i was thinking, charlie, at moments when, you know, there are tough decisions to make or broadcast is under attack or we're bringing someone on -- i remember when i was put in charge of "60 minutes," too, and i wanted to hire this guy charlie rose to come be a correspondent, and don hewitt felt strongly correspondents shouldn't have two jobs, they should focus on the "60 minutes," just be focus opened that and that makes -- focused on that and makes a big difference. i told morley, i want charlie rose to be on "60 minutes," too. he said, you should do it, he's not giving up charlie rose the show. that advisement so much to me.
in a way, he was like a brother. in a way, he was in a funny way like father figure as well, though i have a very strong father figure, and just a really good pal, and i knew when you ask him something, he's going to give it to you right from the heart. he's not going to try to cover it or sugar coat it or anything and that's the kind of person he was. >> rose: thanks for coming, jeff. >> thanks for having me and talking about one of our favorite people. >> rose: absolutely. if this sounds like we are in a love fest, we are, unpoll jetticly in a love fest. this was a special man, and he deserved everything we have said about him. if you don't believe it, go look at his work, and you will see everything we said ereflected in his work. back in a moment. stay with us. >> rose: much has been said about mike wallace and we will repeat some this evening but
these are three people that have worked closely with mike and knew him well, knew the best and the moments that have been defining for him as well as understood what he was about, so i want to revisit a question, morley, that h by gan with on cbs this morning. what was the essence of this man? >> he was erasable. he was his own person. he never took orders from anybody. he was feisty. he was complicated, probably the most complex man i've ever known, and a man, at the same time, with terrible insecurities. >> rose: about? about himself. i think that, at some point in mike's life, he invented a guy called mike wallace, who was going to be a tough-as-nails, no-nonsense, no-holds-barred reporter. >> rose: a bit like general
patton, who defined what kind of general he would like to be and became that kind of general. >> i think that's precisely what happened with mike. i think as you will see on the "60 minutes" tribute, he had terrible acne as a boy, and that gave him a kind of insecurity that he never quite overcame. so he had to go out there every day and prove that mike wallace was the toughest, meanest, most sixfulsuccessful, most recognize reporter ever. and he achieved it, by the way. >> he had incredible natural abilities. he might have been driven by the insecurities, and he did talk about those that he'd work harder than anybody, but his natural abilities as a broadcaster and someone who could coan interview that was a first-class, quality interview, listening to what was being said and following it up like none other, and i think to the degree that it almost got to a point where you looked forward to finding out, regardless of what
story he was reporting, what is he going to ask this person next. >> rose: what did you learn about interviewing from him? >> well, i think we've all learned a tremendous amount from mike. i think that's something you have to continue to remind yourself to do. i think it's ask the outrageous question. larry king also said don't be afraid to fail or ask the outrageous question because you sometime get into territory you're not quite sure you want to get into and almost invariably it produced great material to take the interview in a different direction, and i think that mike we want into those interviews. i think he was always very well prepared. i think he studied really hard for those interviews, but i think he also knew how can i make this my interview? how can go off in a certain direction? >> he was absolutely brilliant, uncanny at finding the subject's weak spot, his most -- his or her most vulnerable spot, and he
would go at it, go for it with a scalpel, and just watch the blood run out. what was interesting, you know, too, when mike was first hired, he was hired in 1963 by dick salant -- >> rose: he had come to see dick, president of cbs news, looking for a job and was about to accept a job somewhere in local news as an anchor and salant said if you're that serious, come to work for us. >> exactly. he charmed salant into hiring him and salant wasn't crazy about the idea because of his previous jobs. >> rose: and this was after his son had been killed and died in greece. >> in '63. the other correspondents and ybz at that time, all the murrow
men, charle the old kind of dipt correspondents -- >> rose: road scholars. snooty, road scholars. >> rose: are they all dead? except for holland. radio guys. and they were just making the transition and they looked down their nose at mike. they thought he was crass and brassy and not one of us. >> rose: a tv host. they took the same attitude by the way to walter cronkite because he was merely a wire service guy is that. >> rose: yeah. and i think when mike came, there was no way mike wasn't going to whip these guys. he was determined to do it. >> rose: to get the story. to get the story. to get the attention. and sure enough, he did. and i must say that, ultimately, a few of those guys,
anyway, really respected him. >> rose: he earned their respect by the work he did. >> absolutely. and, you know, there was nothing -- mike got out of the trenches. as you said, somebody said, he did the homework. he really did. >> rose: don't you have to do that? don't the best ones all have to do that? >> we all have to do that, but mike was particularly diligent about that, and he would find that one kernel in the research that he knew was going to really make this story. he could find the core of that story, and he was brilliant and finding it. >> rose: he taught me once about the ambush style of interviewing which in an evolving part of the role "60 minutes" has undertaken as done less, fair to say? >> oh, yes, much less. it was fai -- there was a period where it was constant. >> rose: and nobody better than mike.
>> he was good at it. >> rose: did he enjoy that? i think he relished it, but i also think he grew very weary of it. >> but the broadcast was benefiting from it. >> the broadcast was ben fin fifthing from it, but, honestly, everyone felt uneasy about that, even mike, when he was doing it. we all felt this really is not what we want to be remembered for. >> rose: so his legacy was, is? >> i think his longevity, his energy, the fact that he became such an important figure in the last half of the 20th century. you know, i said this on the morning news the other day, he was parody on the sid caesar show and the simpson. that's 60 years where people know who mike wallace is and i think that's reflected in a long "new york times" op-ed the other
day. >> rose: tribute, front page of the "new york times" with a color photograph. >> i think he could probably write a pretty good history of the last half of the 20t 20th century, just based on mike's interviews. what were we watching? who were the entertainers? who were the politicians? what were the issues? just think about it. >> rose: true. weaving your way through those interviews. pretty interesting history of most of a century. >> rose: morley safer who died this week at age 84. >> rose: for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at pbs.org and charlierose.com. captioning sponsored by rose communications
larriva: it's like holy mother of comfort food.ion. kastner: throw it down. it's noodle crack. patel: you have to be ready for the heart attack on a platter. crowell: okay, i'm the bacon guy, right? hoofe: oh, i just did a jig every time i dipped into it. man: it just completely blew my mind. woman: it felt like i had a mouthful of raw vegetables and dry dough. sbrocco: oh, please. i want the dessert first! [ laughs ] i told him he had to wait.