Morley Safer at the LBJ Presidential Library
November 8, 1931 |
|Nationality||Canadian, American |
|Alma mater||University of Western Ontario|
|Children||Sarah Alice Anne Safer|
Morley Safer (born November 8, 1931) is a Canadian American reporter and correspondent for CBS News. He is best known for his long tenure on the newsmagazine 60 Minutes, the cast of which he joined in December 1970, during the third season of the series.
Safer was born to an Austrian Jewish family in Toronto, Ontario, the son of Anna (née Cohn) and Max Safer, an upholsterer. He attended Harbord Collegiate Institute and Clinton Street Public school located at 460 Manning Ave, Toronto Ontario, and briefly attended University of Western Ontario.
Safer began his journalism career as a reporter for various newspapers in Canada (Woodstock Sentinel Review, London Free Press, and Toronto Telegram) and England (Reuters and Oxford Mail). Later, he joined the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a correspondent and producer.
In 1964, Safer joined CBS News as a London-based correspondent. In 1965, he opened the CBS News bureau in Saigon. That year he followed a group of United States Marines to the village of Cam Ne, for what was described as a "search and destroy" mission. When the Marines arrived, they gave orders in English to the inhabitants to evacuate the village. When the homes were cleared, the Marines burned their thatched roofs with flamethrowers and Zippo lighters. Safer's report on this event was broadcast on CBS News on August 5, 1965, and was among the first reports to paint a bleak picture of the Vietnam War. President Lyndon Baines Johnson reacted to this report angrily, calling CBS's president and accusing Safer and his colleagues of having "shat on the American flag." Certain that Safer was a communist, Johnson also ordered a security check; upon being told that Safer "wasn't a communist, just a Canadian", he responded: "Well, I knew he wasn't an American."
In 1967, Safer was named the London bureau chief, a post he held for three years. In 1970, he left London to replace Harry Reasoner on 60 Minutes, after Reasoner left to anchor the ABC Evening News (although Reasoner would return to 60 Minutes in 1978, alongside Safer). Safer has been on the program since that time.
Safer is also the author of the bestselling book, Flashbacks: On Returning to Vietnam. It describes his 1989 return to Vietnam and features his interviews with known and less-well-known Vietnamese people, most of them veterans of the war. These included general Vo Nguyen Giap, Duong Quynh Hoa, Pham Xuan An, major Nguyen Be, and others. He also visited the Caravelle Hotel, the Marble Mountains (Vietnam) & air field, China Beach, Huế, Quảng Trị City, a Cham museum, an old wrecking yard full of American artifacts, and several other locations. The book also contains reflections on Bill Moyers (regarding the Cam Ne affair), Barry Goldwater, and General William Westmoreland. His trip was the basis of a 60 Minutes show in 1989, which Safer said got a reaction of annoyance from some veterans, and a positive reaction from others.
He and his wife, Jane Fearer, live in New York City. They have a daughter, Sarah Alice Anne Safer, who is a graduate of Brown University and freelance journalist. Due to personal preference, Safer is still a Canadian citizen, and thus maintains dual citizenship.
Popular culture references
- The film Mercury Rising features a brief clip of Bruce Willis watching Late Show with David Letterman, during which time Letterman mentions Morley Safer—although due to the short duration of the clip the context is not apparent.
- In the first chapter in Wallace Terry's book, Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans (1984), profiled Marine, Private First Class Reginald "Malik" Edwards, discusses his experience in the Cam Ne affair and Morley Safer's covering it for CBS Evening News.
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, "Doomed" (season 4, episode 11), Willow reports her observation of a strange symbol carved into a college student's chest (the Aftershock Party) to the Scooby group. Xander comments, "It's kinda the CBS logo...hey, could this be the handiwork of one Mr. Morley Safer?"
- In the 3rd Rock from the Sun episode "The Baby Menace" (season five, episode one), a reporter working for a sleazy tabloid is likened to "Morley freakin' Safer" by Tommy Solomon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).
- In The Golden Girls episode "An Illegitimate Concern" (season five, episode eighteen), upon learning her dead husband, George (played by Mark Moses of Desperate Housewives fame), fathered an illegitimate son during the course of their marriage, Blanche Devereaux (Rue McClanahan) decries this turn of events claiming she once passed up an affair with a noted journalist of 60 Minutes fame to uphold her vows. As she exits the room, Sophia says to Rose and Dorothy, "I'll bet it was Morley Safer." At the end of the episode, while talking to a picture of George, Blanche says, "You son of a... You put me through all of this and I could have had Andy Rooney." He is also referenced in "Long Day's Journey Into Marinara" and "The Actor".
- In Season 2 Episode 13 of the Netflix political drama "House of Cards," protagonist Frank Underwood was shown being interviewed by Safer.
- In Everybody Loves Raymond season 1, episode 12 "The Ball", Raymond's friend and coworker Andy referenced an episode of 60 Minutes where it was mentioned that managers used to sign baseballs on behalf of the respective player. When the authenticity of Raymond's beloved baseball signed by Mickey Mantle was questioned, Raymond was in denial of the possibility, prompting Andy to sarcastically respond, "maybe Morley Safer was wrong".
- 12-time Emmy Award winner;
- 3-time Overseas Press Award winner;
- 3-time George Foster Peabody Award winner;
- 2-time Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award winner;
- Winner of the Paul White Award from the Radio-Television News Directors Association (1966)
- Recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Emmy from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences;
- Received the 2003 George Polk Memorial Career Achievement Award from Long Island University;
- Received the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards’ first prize for domestic television for his insightful report about a controversial school, "School for the Homeless";
- Named a Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 1995;
- Received Brown University's Welles Hangen Award for Superior Achievement in Journalism (1993);
- Recipient of The International Center in New York's Award of Excellence.
- Sweethearts, The Builders, The Mob and the Men, page 6 - author Catherine Wismer (ISBN 0888623844)
- Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2005, Pacifica Radio/UC Berkeley Social Activism Sound Recording Project: Anti-Vietnam War Protests in the San Francisco Bay Area & Beyond
- Flashbacks, Safer, 1991, St Martins Press / Random House
- CSPAN booknotes: Flashbacks from vietnam, 1990, Brian Lamb / Morley Safer
- Brown University, 1992, Morley Safer of CBS to receive University’s first Welles Hangen Award
- Terry, Wallace (1984). Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans. Random House. pp. 3–17. ISBN 0394530284. (ISBN 978-0-394-53028-4)
- Sara Benincasa, Tumblr Sara Benincasa Tumblr
- "Paul White Award". Radio Television Digital News Association. Retrieved 2014-05-27.
- Booknotes interview with Safer on Flashbacks on Returning to Vietnam, May 6, 1990.
- C-SPAN Q&A interview with Safer, October 7, 2012
- Morley Safer interview video at the Archive of American Television