2016 has seen more than its fair share of loss, with numerous icons from the world of movies, TV, music and more passing away over the past few months. Today, the news industry lost one of its most venerable icons, when Morley Safer of 60 Minutes fame died at the age of 84. The award-winning journalist passed in his Manhattan home this morning, although a cause of death was not given.
The news of Morley Safer's death comes just one week after he announced his retirement from CBS News, after 46 years on the network's long-running news program 60 Minutes. In CBS News' extensive obituary on the late news man, they reveal that his career at CBS started in 1964, under unusual circumstances. Morley Safer was working for the Canadian network CBC, when one of his colleagues sent CBS a tape to apply for a job. The tape also featured Safer, and the network decided to hire him instead. Here's what CBS chairman Leslie Moonves had to say about Morley Safer's passing in a statement.
"Morley was one of the most important journalists in any medium, ever. He broke ground in war reporting and made a name that will forever be synonymous with 60 Minutes. He was also a gentleman, a scholar, a great raconteur - all of those things and much more to generations of colleagues, his legion of friends, and his family, to whom all of us at CBS offer our sincerest condolences over the loss of one of CBS' and journalism's greatest treasures."
Morley Safer was a regular fixture on CBS Evening News, becoming the first reporter ever to film a report inside Communist China. His landmark 1965 piece on U.S. Marines burning Vietnamese huts during the Vietnam War has been cited as one of the best pieces of journalism in U.S. history. The report earned Safer a George Polk Award, although he came under fire from several Marines, and even from President Lyndon B. Johnson, who reportedly told CBS President Frank Stanton that, 'Your boys s--t on the American flag yesterday."
The reporter spent three tours in Vietnam from 1964 to 1966, before he joined 60 Minutes in 1970. He won an Emmy Award for a 1971 investigation of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, that lead to America's involvement in the Vietnam War, and he was thrust into the national spotlight after an interview with First Lady Betty Ford, where she said that she thought it would be normal if her 18-year-old daughter was having sex, which shocked many Americans. 60 Minutes cracked the Nielsen ratings top 10 list in 1978, and it remained in the top 10 for an unprecedented 23 straight seasons after that. One of Safer's most celebrated stories came within that run, showing how a Texas man named Lenell Geter was serving life for an armed robbery in Texas. The courts overturned his conviction 10 days after the report aired in December 1983, which showcased the authorities' inadequate investigation. 60 Minutes and Safer took home Peabody, George Polk and duPont-Columbia University awards for that report.
Morley Safer is survived by his wife of 48 years, Jane, his daughter Sarah Bakal, her husband, Alexander Bakal, three grandchildren, a sister, and brother, who both live in Toronto. Funeral arrangements are being kept private, but a memorial service will be announced at a later date. After Morley Safer announced his retirement last week, 60 Minutes aired a seven-minute retrospective on the news man this past Sunday night, which you can take a look at below.