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60 Minutes creator Don Hewitt dead at 86
August 19, 2009 9:15 AM   Subscribe

Don Hewitt has passed away
posted by jsavimbi (34 comments total)

 
Does this mean CBS will finally cancel 60 Minutes?
posted by parmanparman at 9:21 AM on August 19, 2009


Does this mean CBS will finally cancel 60 Minutes?

Classy.
posted by Zambrano at 9:26 AM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by cashman at 9:30 AM on August 19, 2009


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posted by Dr-Baa at 9:30 AM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


.......
posted by Lizc at 9:33 AM on August 19, 2009


It is with this program that I learned, as a child, of the larger-scale frauds that lurk in the shadows in the land of the free. Generally speaking it was a form of progressive education I suppose. Although 60 Minutes employed some pretty questionable tactics in their reporting, I found the program as a whole worthwhile and entertaining. I wonder if this program launched the distasteful "confrontainment" we now observe in such shows as Jerry Springer and Fox news, etc.
posted by uraniumwilly at 9:35 AM on August 19, 2009


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posted by tommasz at 9:39 AM on August 19, 2009


tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick...

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(I like 60 minutes)
posted by brandman at 9:46 AM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by dbiedny at 9:47 AM on August 19, 2009


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posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:52 AM on August 19, 2009


This is not a good obit post. That being said:

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posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 9:53 AM on August 19, 2009


Having made a not good obit post (that was justifiably deleted) a few weeks ago, I wanted to say what Captain Cardanthian! said. Thank you.

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posted by yiftach at 9:56 AM on August 19, 2009


Was he a businessman or was he a newsman?
posted by crayz at 10:04 AM on August 19, 2009


tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick...

I always wondered why it ticked more than once a second. Turns out good watches do that.
posted by smackfu at 10:17 AM on August 19, 2009


This is not a good obit post.

That is correct and I apologize. It was a knee-jerk reaction to a Tweet.

That being said, I simply wanted to get the word out about someone's passing whom I thought needed no introduction here on MeFi. Next time, I'll prepare an appropriate obit, complete with back story, multiple links, personal story injection and crass counter-opinion to further the discussion throughout the comments.

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posted by jsavimbi at 10:19 AM on August 19, 2009


That doesn't sound like an apology to me.
posted by smackfu at 10:24 AM on August 19, 2009


(It's just that there has been a lot of discussion on MetaTalk about "how crappy the initial post(s) of well known people are as posters try to take advantage of Metafilter's usual first post stays policy" which you have wandered into.)
posted by smackfu at 10:28 AM on August 19, 2009


Next time, I'll prepare an appropriate obit, complete with back story, multiple links, personal story injection and crass counter-opinion to further the discussion throughout the comments.

That would be great, except for the crass counter-opinion part.
posted by jessamyn at 10:34 AM on August 19, 2009


smackfu, you are correct. I haven't been following the discussions as of late and I fully assumed that I'd be newsfiltered right off, but I said 'fuck it', here's a person's whose work interested and influenced me and I'd like to share the news of their death with others, hoping that the majority of the comments, until deletion came, would be '.'

In regards to my non-apology apology, I forgot to add "just give me heads up next time." Again, I'm sorry my initial post was crappy, I was just passing it along.
posted by jsavimbi at 10:35 AM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


That ticking of the clock ended many nights playing outside. It was my parents alarm clock for us to come in and eat and get ready for school the next day. Hated hearing that sound outside a window while my friends and I were in a heated football game.

On the other hand, now they can have that 1960 debate rematch with all the players now.
posted by Senator at 10:43 AM on August 19, 2009


60 Minutes now is a farm team for CNN.
posted by parmanparman at 10:57 AM on August 19, 2009


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posted by Halloween Jack at 11:06 AM on August 19, 2009


This is not a good obit post.

Yes because people who want to know more about Mr. Hewitt have no idea how to use a search engine or have never heard of Wikipedia.
posted by Zambrano at 11:30 AM on August 19, 2009


Metafilter: Just Google It.

The bar.. it's just too heavy...
posted by Static Vagabond at 11:48 AM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Next time, I'll prepare an appropriate obit, complete with back story, multiple links, personal story injection and crass counter-opinion to further the discussion throughout the comments.

Don't be silly, a five-second cut-and-paste retweet like this is the perfect eulogy for a guy who made his reputation producing carefully-researched in-depth news stories.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 12:05 PM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I wonder if this program launched the distasteful "confrontainment" we now observe in such shows as Jerry Springer and Fox news, etc.

Not directly, I think. Certainly, Mike Wallace's reputation for "attack-dog journalism" came from his interview program prior to 60 Minutes, and Hewitt, Wallace and his assorted producers simply stuck with the proven formula. Harry Reasoner and Morley Safer were never as aggro, and the current team of reporters follow more in their vein than Wallace's. It was certainly not Hewitt's intent to make 60 Minutes be a confrontational program.

However, the overall success of 60 Minutes and its role in making news programming a successful operation for network television can be credited with helping to prove the market for prime time news magazines, which in turn led to the market for 24-hour news channels, and thus to FOX challenging CNN for audience and being very willing to use confrontation, opinion-as-news and other sensationalized tactics.

Personally, I blame Phil Donahue for the confrontational talk show genre, although I think Donahue offered a very informative and interesting program while the Jerry Springers and Mort Downey Jr.s of the world merely churn the garbage pail.

Hewitt was a genuine pioneer of television journalism, and regardless of the sad state of affairs in the news business today, his significance cannot be underestimated. TV needs a lot more guys like Hewitt and a lot fewer like Roger Ailes.
posted by briank at 12:18 PM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]



60 Minutes was a pretty good new show. . . in the 1970s. So:

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For the memories.

As to the ambush / confrontational school of journalism, consider that Mike Wallace, by and large, applied it against public servants and captains of industry accused of deceiving and / or defrauding the public, often at great social cost.

Most of these other shows do it out of prurience or personal animosity. Springer and O'Reilly come to mind, respectively. Not the same thing at all.

Mike Myers would like to make this work, but he is so ham-fisted he bats about .150 with many a foul tip.*



* Apologies to non-US readers for the baseball analogy.
posted by Herodios at 12:50 PM on August 19, 2009


Oh, yeah.*

The result with Wallace could be an unguarded moment of frankness from a powerful person insulated from the consequences of their actions and / or a public airing of their contempt for others and the responsibilities of their position.

Where's the public interest (in the original sense) in camping out in the front yards of people 'caught' masturbating in a library? After all, you were watching him, pal. So who's weird?


* These were originally one post, the Internet hiccuped during the process and I had to start over.
posted by Herodios at 1:00 PM on August 19, 2009


Ammended Wikipedia bio:
Donald S. Hewitt (December 14, 1922 - August 19, 2009) was an American television news producer and executive, best known for creating 60 Minutes, the CBS news magazine in 1968, currently the longest-running prime time broadcast on American television.

Born in NYC, his family moved a couple times. For his high school years, they were in New Rochelle, New York, where Hewitt attended New Rochelle High School and wrote a sports column for the school newspaper. Hewitt attended New York University and started his journalism career in 1942 as head copyboy for the New York Herald Tribune.

Hewitt started at CBS News in 1948 and served as producer-director of the network's evening news broadcast for 14 years. He was also the first director of the landmark documentary news program See It Now, coproduced by host Edward R. Murrow and Fred W. Friendly. The program ran a series of pieces on Sen. Joseph McCarthy, critical of his methods. These pieces, especially the March 9, 1954 broadcast (video, transcript) are considered influential to the nationwide popular opinion backlash against McCarthy (NPR piece with commentator Walter Cronkite marking the 50th anniversary). McCarthy went on the program on April 6, 1954 (transcript), but it didn't help his cause.

Hewitt also produced the first Presidential debate on TV, Nixon vs. Kennedy.

Hewitt stepped aside as executive producer for 60 Minutes in 2004 at 81. He was involved when the program won numerous awards, and he himself was honored with other awards.

He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March 2009, which is currently considered his cause of death.

posted by filthy light thief at 1:06 PM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by jonp72 at 1:45 PM on August 19, 2009


To come up with what, at its heart, was an information program, that could become one of the most popular television series ever, was an accomplishment indeed. Frankly the show's only problem has been handing off to a next generation of people eager to do what Wallace, Reasoner, Safer, Bradley, Stahl, and the others have done... but I think they're getting there now. Kind of a shame that they basically had to push Hewitt and Wallace out the door.

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posted by evilcolonel at 2:17 PM on August 19, 2009


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posted by hooptycritter at 4:20 PM on August 19, 2009


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posted by brandz at 6:50 PM on August 19, 2009


Isn't almost everyone on that show over 60? It's just a matter of time until the suits try to make the show more 'hip'. I just hope it isn't ruined like 'The Price Is Right' was.
posted by reenum at 9:44 PM on August 19, 2009


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