I haven’t watched 60 minutes since Andy Rooney died in 2011. I used to love to watch the program and respected all of the news people who did reports on various issues. Their interviews with well-known people were an especial favorite of mine. I can just see the malice in Mike Wallace’s eyes when he cornered someone who had been circumventing the question or was in the process of producing a fairy tale. Wallace would pounce on them and force them to tell the truth.
My evening was never complete until Andy Rooney was finished with his commentary- sometimes newsworthy and most times very personal. His five minutes always completed the hour for me. 60 minutes is no longer that kind of program. How do I know? I actually watched an episode this evening.
Lesley Stahl was interviewing Donald Trump and his new Vice Presidential nominee, Mike Pence. Since I was slightly familiar with Lesley Stahl, I guess I was expecting a machine gun questioning technique that would peel away some of the rubbish that these two men have covered themselves with.
On the contrary, Ms. Stahl threw up a number of softball questions and then when the questions grew more incisive, she let these two get away with bloody murder. Even when Governor Pence was ready to answer a tough question about the horrible things he had said just a few short months ago about Donald Trump, she allowed Mr. Trump to interrupt and answer the question himself.
It saddened me to see how this great program has retreated into a cavalcade of sameness. When it began in 1968 with Harry Reasoner and Mike Wallace its freshness and thoughtfulness continued for many years with Ed Bradley, Morley Safer and Dan Rather. You may not have liked what these folks had to say, but you really had to listen. When they did special reports, whether Meredith Viera or Steve Kroft, you watched just to be informed.
Maybe this news cycle is doomed to make us all plain. The media is not the 5th estate that it once was. I believe that we got more real news from Jon Stewart than from real news shows. I would love to see Trevor Noah, Larry Wilmore and Samantha Bee covering the news than Wolf Blitzer. Bring back the excitement of real news, send Christiana Amanpour out there among the stories and let’s get on with it.