60 Minutes is an American television news magazine broadcast on the CBS television network. Debuting in 1968, the program was created by Don Hewitt and Bill Leonard, who chose to set it apart from other news programs by using a unique style of reporter-centered investigation. In 2002, 60 Minutes was ranked number six on TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time", and in 2013, it was ranked number 24 on the magazine's list of the "60 Best Series of All Time". The New York Times has called it "one of the most esteemed news magazines on American television".
|Created by||Don Hewitt|
|Presented by||Lesley Stahl|
See Correspondents below
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||53|
|No. of episodes||2,325 (as of December 3, 2017)|
|Executive producers||Don Hewitt (1968–2004)|
Jeff Fager (2004–2018)
Bill Owens (2019–current)
|Running time||43 minutes (60 minutes with commercials, hence the title)|
|Production company||CBS News Productions|
|Distributor||CBS Media Ventures|
CBS News Radio
|Original release||September 24, 1968 –|
|Related shows||60 Minutes (Australia)|
Face the Nation
CBS Overnight News
The program employed a magazine format similar to that of the Canadian program W5, which had premiered two years earlier. It pioneered many of the most important investigative journalism procedures and techniques, including re-editing interviews, hidden cameras, and "gotcha journalism" visits to the home or office of an investigative subject. Similar programs sprang up in Australia and Canada during the 1970s, as well as on local television news.
Initially, 60 Minutes aired as a bi-weekly show hosted by Harry Reasoner and Mike Wallace, debuting on September 24, 1968, and alternating weeks with other CBS News productions on Tuesday evenings at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The first edition, described by Reasoner in the opening as a "kind of a magazine for television," featured the following segments:
- A look inside the headquarters suites of presidential candidates Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey during their respective parties' national conventions that summer;
- Commentary by European writers Malcolm Muggeridge, Peter von Zahn, and Luigi Barzini Jr. on the American electoral system;
- A commentary by political humor columnist Art Buchwald;
- An interview with then-Attorney General Ramsey Clark about police brutality;
- "A Digression," a brief, scripted piece in which two silhouetted men (one of them Andy Rooney) discuss the presidential campaign;
- An abbreviated version of an Academy Award-winning short film by Saul Bass, Why Man Creates; and
- A meditation by Wallace and Reasoner on the relation between perception and reality. Wallace said that the show aimed to "reflect reality".
The first "magazine-cover" chroma key was a photo of two helmeted policemen (for the Clark interview segment). Wallace and Reasoner sat in chairs on opposite sides of the set, which had a cream-colored backdrop; the more famous black backdrop (which is still used as of 2020) did not appear until the following year. The logo was in Helvetica type with the word "Minutes" spelled in all lower-case letters; the logo most associated with the show (rendered in Square 721 type with "Minutes" spelled in uppercase) did not appear until about 1974. Further, to extend the magazine motif, the producers added a "Vol. xx, No. xx" to the title display on the chroma key; modeled after the volume and issue number identifications featured in print magazines, this was used until about 1971. The trademark stopwatch, however, did not appear on the inaugural broadcast; it would not debut until several episodes later. Alpo dog food was the sole sponsor of the first program.
Don Hewitt, who had been a producer of the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, sought out Wallace as a stylistic contrast to Reasoner. According to one historian of the show, the idea of the format was to make the hosts the reporters, to always feature stories that were of national importance but focused upon individuals involved with, or in conflict with, those issues, and to limit the reports' airtime to around 13 minutes. However, the initial season was troubled by lack of network confidence, as the program did not garner ratings much higher than that of other CBS News documentaries. As a rule, during that era, news programming during prime time lost money; networks mainly scheduled public affairs programs in prime time in order to bolster the prestige of their news departments, and thus boost ratings for the regular evening newscasts, which were seen by far more people than documentaries and the like. 60 Minutes struggled under that stigma during its first three years.
Changes to 60 Minutes came fairly early in the program's history. When Reasoner left CBS to co-anchor ABC's evening newscast (he would return to CBS and 60 Minutes in 1978), Morley Safer joined the team in 1970, and he took over Reasoner's duties of reporting less aggressive stories. However, when Richard Nixon began targeting press access and reporting, even Safer, formerly the CBS News bureau chief in Saigon and London, began to do "hard" investigative reports, and during the 1970–71 season alone, 60 Minutes reported on cluster bombs, the South Vietnamese Army, draft dodgers, Nigeria, the Middle East, and Northern Ireland.
Effects from the Prime Time Access Rule
By 1971, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) introduced the Prime Time Access Rule, which freed local network affiliates in the top 50 markets (in practice, the entire network) to take a half-hour of prime time from the networks on Mondays through Saturdays and one full hour on Sundays. Because nearly all affiliates found production costs for the FCC's intended goal of increased public affairs programming very high and the ratings (and by association, advertising revenues) low, making it mostly unprofitable, the FCC created an exception for network-authored news and public affairs shows. After a six-month hiatus in late 1971, CBS found a prime place for 60 Minutes in a portion of that displaced time, 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Eastern (5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Central Time) on Sundays in January 1972.
This proved somewhat less than satisfactory, however, because in order to accommodate CBS' telecasts of late afternoon National Football League (NFL) football games, 60 Minutes went on hiatus during the fall from 1972 to 1975 (and the summer of 1972). This took place because football telecasts were protected contractually from interruptions in the wake of the infamous "Heidi Bowl" incident on NBC in November 1968. Despite the irregular scheduling, the program's hard-hitting reports attracted a steadily growing audience, particularly during the waning days of the Vietnam War and the gripping events of the Watergate scandal; at that time, few if any other major network news shows did in-depth investigative reporting to the degree carried out by 60 Minutes. Eventually, during the summers of 1973 through 1975, CBS did allow the program back onto the prime time schedule proper, on Fridays in 1973 and Sundays the two years thereafter, as a replacement for programs aired during the regular television season.
It was only when the FCC returned an hour to the networks on Sundays (for news or family programming), which had been taken away from them four years earlier, in a 1975 amendment to the Access Rule, that CBS finally found a viable permanent timeslot for 60 Minutes. When the family-oriented drama Three for the Road ended after a 12-week run in the fall, the news magazine took its place at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time (6:00 p.m. Central) on December 7, 1975. It has aired at that time since for 45 years as of 2020, making it not only the longest-running prime time program currently in production, but also the television program (excluding daily programs such as evening newscasts or morning news-talk shows) broadcasting for the longest length of time at a single time period each week in U.S. television history.
This move, and the addition of then-White House correspondent Dan Rather to the reporting team, made the program into a strong ratings hit and, eventually, a general cultural phenomenon. This was no less than a stunning reversal of the historically poor ratings performances of documentary programs on network television. By 1976, 60 Minutes became the top-rated program on Sunday nights in the U.S. By 1979, it had achieved the #1 spot among all television programs in the Nielsen ratings, unheard of before for a news broadcast in prime time. This success translated into great profits for CBS; advertising rates increased from $17,000 per 30-second spot in 1975 to $175,000 in 1982.
The program sometimes does not start until after 7:00 p.m. Eastern, due largely to CBS' live broadcast of NFL games. At the conclusion of an NFL game, 60 Minutes will air in its entirety and delay all subsequent programs. However, in the two westernmost time zones, 60 Minutes is always able to start at its scheduled time as live sports coverage ends earlier in the afternoon. The program's success has also led CBS Sports to schedule events (such as the final round of the Masters Tournament and the second round and regional final games of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament) leading into 60 Minutes and the rest of the network's primetime lineup.
Starting in the 2012–2013 season, in order to accommodate a new NFL scheduling policy that the second game of a doubleheader start at 4:25 p.m., CBS changed the scheduled start time of 60 Minutes to 7:30 p.m. Eastern time for Eastern and Central Time Zone stations which are receiving a game in that window. The start time remains at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on stations which are not broadcasting a late game in a given week.
Radio broadcast and Internet distribution
60 Minutes is also simulcast on several former CBS Radio flagship stations now owned by Entercom (such as KYW in Philadelphia, WCBS in New York City, WBBM in Chicago, WWJ in Detroit and KCBS in San Francisco) when it airs locally on their sister CBS Television Network affiliate; even in the Central and Eastern time zones, the show is aired at the top of the hour at 7:00 p.m./6:00 p.m. Central (barring local sports play-by-play pre-emptions and breaking news coverage) no matter how long the show is delayed on CBS Television, resulting in radio listeners often hearing the show on those stations ahead of the television broadcast. An audio version of each broadcast without advertising began to be distributed via podcast and the iTunes Store, starting with the broadcast on September 23, 2007. Video from 60 Minutes (including full episodes) is also made available for streaming several hours after the program's initial broadcast on CBSNews.com and Paramount+.
60 Minutes consists of three long-form news stories without superimposed graphics. There is a commercial break between two stories. Each story is introduced from a set with a backdrop resembling pages from a magazine story on the same topic. The program undertakes its own investigations and follows up on investigations instigated by national newspapers and other sources. Unlike its most famous competitor 20/20, as well as traditional local and national news programs, the 60 Minutes journalists never share the screen with (or speak to) other 60 Minutes journalists on camera at any time. This creates a strong psychological sense of intimacy between the journalist and the television viewer.
60 Minutes blends the probing journalism of the seminal 1950s CBS series See It Now with Edward R. Murrow (a show for which Hewitt served as the director for its first few years) and the personality profiles of another Murrow program, Person to Person. In Hewitt's own words, 60 Minutes blends "higher Murrow" and "lower Murrow".
For most of the 1970s, the program included Point/Counterpoint, in which a liberal and a conservative commentator debated a particular issue. This segment originally featured James J. Kilpatrick representing the conservative side and Nicholas von Hoffman for the liberal, with Shana Alexander taking over for von Hoffman after he departed in 1974. The segment was an innovation that caught the public imagination as a live version of competing editorials. In 1979, Alexander asked Hewitt to raise the pay of $350 a week; Hewitt declined, and the segment ended.
Point/Counterpoint was also lampooned by the NBC comedy series Saturday Night Live, which featured Jane Curtin and Dan Aykroyd as debaters, with Aykroyd announcing the topic, Curtin making an opening statement, then Aykroyd typically retorting with, "Jane, you ignorant slut" and Curtin with "Dan, you pompous ass"; in the film Airplane! (1980), in which the faux Kilpatrick argues in favor of the plane crashing stating "they bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into"; and in an earlier sketch comedy film, The Kentucky Fried Movie, where the segment was called "Count/Pointercount".
A similar concept was revived briefly in March 2003, this time featuring Bob Dole and Bill Clinton, former opponents in the 1996 presidential election. The pair agreed to do ten segments, called "Clinton/Dole" and "Dole/Clinton" in alternating weeks, but did not continue into the 2003–2004 fall television season. Reports indicated that the segments were considered too gentlemanly, in the style of the earlier "Point/Counterpoint", and lacked the feistiness of Crossfire.
Andy Rooney segment
From 1978 to 2011, the program usually ended with a (usually light-hearted and humorous) commentary by Andy Rooney expounding on topics of wildly varying import, ranging from international politics, to economics, and to personal philosophy on everyday life. One recurring topic was measuring the amount of coffee in coffee cans.
Rooney's pieces, particularly one in which he referred to actor Mel Gibson as a "wacko", on occasion led to complaints from viewers. In 1990, Rooney was suspended without pay for three months by then-CBS News President David Burke, because of the negative publicity around his saying that "too much alcohol, too much food, drugs, homosexual unions, cigarettes [are] all known to lead to premature death." He wrote an explanatory letter to a gay organization after being ordered not to do so. After only four weeks without Rooney, 60 Minutes lost 20% of its audience. CBS management then decided that it was in the best interest of the network to have Rooney return immediately.
Rooney published several books documenting his contributions to the program, including Years Of Minutes and A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney. Rooney retired from 60 Minutes, delivering his final commentary on October 2, 2011, it was his 1,097th commentary over his 34-year career on the program. He died one month later on November 4, 2011. On November 13, 2011, 60 Minutes featured an hour-long tribute to Rooney and his career, and included a rebroadcast of his final commentary segment.
The opening sequence features a 60 Minutes "magazine cover" with the show's trademark, an Aristo stopwatch, intercut with preview clips of the episode's stories. The sequence ends with each of the current correspondents and hosts introducing themselves. The last host who appears (currently Scott Pelley) then says, "Those stories tonight on 60 Minutes". When Rooney was a prominent fixture, the final line was "Those stories and Andy Rooney, tonight on 60 Minutes". Before that, and whenever Rooney did not appear, the final line was "Those stories and more, tonight on 60 Minutes".
The stopwatch counts off each of the broadcast's 60 minutes, starting from zero at the beginning of each show. It is seen during the opening title sequence, before each commercial break, and at the tail-end of the closing credits, and each time it appears it displays (within reasonable accuracy) the elapsed time of the episode to that point.
On October 29, 2006, the opening sequence changed from a black background, which had been used for over a decade, to white. Also, the gray background for the Aristo stopwatch in the "cover" changed to red, the color for the title text changed to white, and the stopwatch itself changed from the diagonal position it had been oriented in for 31 years to an upright position.
Videos and transcripts of 60 Minutes editions, as well as clips that were not included in the broadcast are available on the program's website. In September 2010, the program launched a website called "60 Minutes Overtime", in which stories broadcast on-air are discussed in further detail. Previously the show had a partnership with Yahoo! for distribution of extra content.
Correspondents and hosts
Current correspondents and commentators
- Current hosts
- Lesley Stahl (host, 1991–present, co-editor)
- Scott Pelley (host, 2003–present)
- Bill Whitaker (host, 2014–present)
- John Dickerson (2019–2021)
- Current part-time correspondents
Former correspondents and hosts
- Former hosts
- Harry Reasoner † (host, 1968–1970 and 1978–1991)
- Mike Wallace † (host, 1968–2006; correspondent emeritus 2006–2008)
- Morley Safer † (part-time correspondent, 1968–1970; host, 1970–2016)
- Dan Rather (part-time correspondent, 1968–1975; host, 1975–1981 and 2005–2006) (now at AXS TV)
- Ed Bradley † (part-time correspondent, 1976–1981; host, 1981–2006)
- Diane Sawyer (part-time correspondent, 1981–1984; host, 1984–1989) (now at ABC News)
- Meredith Vieira (part-time correspondent, 1982–1985 and 1991–1993; host, 1990–1991)
- Bob Simon † (1996–2015)
- Christiane Amanpour (part-time correspondent, 1996–2000; host, 2000–2005)
- Lara Logan (part-time correspondent, 2005–2012; host, 2012–2018) (now at Fox News Channel)
- Steve Kroft (host, 1989–2019; co-editor, 2019)
- Former part-time correspondents
- Walter Cronkite † (1968–1981)
- Charles Kuralt † (1968–1979)
- Roger Mudd † (1968–1980)
- Bill Plante (1968–1995) (retired)
- Eric Sevareid † (1968–1969)
- John Hart (1969–1975) (retired)
- Bob Schieffer (1973–1996)
- Morton Dean (1975–1979) (retired)
- Marlene Sanders † (1978–1987)
- Charles Osgood (1981–1994) (retired)
- Forrest Sawyer (1985–1987)
- Connie Chung (1990–1993) (retired)
- Paula Zahn (1990–1999)
- John Roberts (1992–2005) (now at Fox News Channel)
- Russ Mitchell (1995–1998) (now at WKYC in Cleveland)
- Carol Marin (1997–2002)
- Bryant Gumbel (1998–2002)
- Katie Couric (2006–2011)
- Charlie Rose (2008–2017)
- Byron Pitts (2009–2013) (now at ABC News)
- Sanjay Gupta (2011–2014) (now at CNN)
- Alison Stewart (2012)
- Clarissa Ward (2012–2015) (now at CNN)
- Oprah Winfrey (2017–2018)
Commentators for 60 Minutes have included:
- James J. Kilpatrick † (conservative debater, 1971–1979)
- Nicholas von Hoffman † (liberal debater, 1971–1974)
- Shana Alexander † (liberal debater, 1975–1979)
- Andy Rooney † (commentator, 1978–2011)
- Stanley Crouch † (commentator, 1996)
- Molly Ivins † (liberal commentator, 1996)
- P. J. O'Rourke (conservative commentator, 1996)
- Bill Clinton (liberal debater, 2003)
- Bob Dole (conservative debater, 2003)
† = Deceased
In episode 36 of season 53, Lesley Stahl discussed healthcare for transgender youths. Stahl interviews surgeon Marci Bowers. This episode aired on May 23rd 2021. She discussed the ongoing "culture war" in the 2020s. At the time of this episode broadcast, in 21 states, physicians can go to jail for providing transgender healthcare to minors. Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, is also interviewed.
In episode 39, guests are interviewed about the role of AR-15 and its variations in mass shootings in the United States. Scott Pelley says, "The AR-15 is the most popular rifle in America. There are 19 million."
In episode 39, Anderson Cooper interviews guests about the last U.S. slave ship Clotilda from 1860. Cooper's guests claim direct descent from the illegally imported slaves from the Kingdom of Dahomey (Benin today). James P. Delgado and the Alabama Historical Commission verify the shipwreck from the 1800s. According to one of the guests "everyone here [in Africatown ] is related" to Cudjoe Lewis. Timothy Meaher was their slave trader. The guests tell Anderson Cooper that the descendants of Timothy Meaher refuse to acknowledge the benefits that they received through the generations. The members of the Meaher family either ignored or declined the requests from Anderson Cooper for an interview.
In espisode 42, the 2020 United States federal government data breach is discussed. Brad Smith (American lawyer), the President of Microsoft, Kevin Mandia, (CEO of FireEye), and John C. Inglis are interviewed. Brad Smith talks about the Not-Petya cyber-attack on Ukraine.
Ratings and recognition
- In households; before 1997
- In millions; after 1997
- Tied with Hawaii Five-O
- Tied with Charlie's Angels and All in the Family
Based on ratings, 60 Minutes is the most successful program in U.S. television history since it was moved into its present timeslot in 1975. For five of its seasons it has been that year's top program, a feat matched by the sitcoms All in the Family and The Cosby Show, and surpassed only by the reality competition series American Idol, which had been the #1 show for eight consecutive seasons from the 2003–2004 television season up to the 2010–2011 season. 60 Minutes was a top ten show for 23 seasons in a row (1977–2000), an unsurpassed record, and has made the Top 20 for every season since the 1976–1977 season, except from 2005 to 2008.
60 Minutes first broke into the Nielsen Top 20 during the 1976–77 season. The following season, it was the fourth-most-watched program, and by the 1979–80 season, it was the number one show. During the 21st century, it remained among the top 20 programs in the Nielsen ratings, and the highest-rated news magazine.
On November 16, 2008, the edition featuring an interview with President-elect Barack Obama, earned a total viewership of 25.1 million viewers.
On October 6, 2013, the broadcast (which was delayed by 44 minutes that evening due to a Denver Broncos-Dallas Cowboys NFL game) drew 17.94 million viewers; retaining 63% of the 28.32 million viewers of its lead-in, and making it the most watched 60 Minutes broadcast since December 16, 2012.
On December 1, 2013, the broadcast (delayed 50 minutes due to a Broncos-Kansas City Chiefs game) was watched by 18.09 million viewers, retaining 66% of its NFL lead-in (which earned 28.11 million viewers during the 7:00 p.m. hour).
On March 25, 2018, the edition featuring Stormy Daniels giving details on her alleged affair with President Donald Trump drew 22.1 million viewers, the most since the 2008 Obama interview. The broadcast was delayed due to the NCAA men's basketball regional final on CBS between Kansas and Duke going to overtime.
As of June 26, 2017, 60 Minutes had won a total of 138 Emmy Awards, a record unsurpassed by any other primetime program on U.S. television.
The program has won 20 Peabody Awards for segments including "All in the Family", an investigation into abuses by government and military contractors; "The CIA's Cocaine", which uncovered CIA involvement in drug smuggling, "Friendly Fire", a report on incidents of friendly fire in the Gulf War; "The Duke Rape Case", an investigation into accusations of rape at an off campus lacrosse team party in 2006, and "The Killings in Haditha", an investigation into the killing of Iraqi civilians by U.S. Marines.
The show received an Investigative Reporter and Editor medal for their segment "The Osprey", documenting a Marine cover-up of deadly flaws in the V-22 Osprey aircraft.
Impact on innocent victims
Longest-running primetime show
60 Minutes currently holds the record for the longest continuously running program of any genre scheduled during American network prime time, it has aired at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Sundays since December 7, 1975 (although since 2012, it is officially scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Sundays where a CBS affiliate has a late NFL game).
The longer-running Meet the Press has also aired in prime time. Debuting in 1947, it has been a daytime program since 1965. The Walt Disney anthology television series, which premiered in 1954, and the Hallmark Hall of Fame, which has aired since 1951, have aired longer than 60 Minutes, but none of them has aired in prime time continually, as 60 Minutes has done.
The show has been praised for landmark journalism and received many awards. However, it has also become embroiled in some controversy, including (in order of appearance):
On November 23, 1986, 60 Minutes aired a segment greenlit by Hewitt, concerning the Audi 5000 automobile, a popular German luxury car. The story covered a supposed problem of "unintended acceleration" when the brake pedal was pushed, with emotional interviews with six people who sued Audi (unsuccessfully) after they crashed their cars, including one woman whose six-year-old son had been killed. In the 60 Minutes segment footage was shown of an Audi 5000 with the accelerator "moving down on its own", accelerating the car. It later emerged that an expert witness employed by one of the plaintiffs modified the accelerator with a concealed device, causing the "unintended acceleration". Independent investigators concluded that this "unintended acceleration" was most likely due to driver error, where the driver let their foot slip off the brake and onto the accelerator. Tests by Audi and independent journalists showed that even with the throttle wide open, the car would simply stall if the brakes were actually being used.
The incident devastated Audi sales in the United States, which did not rebound for 15 years. The initial incidents which prompted the report were found by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Transport Canada to have been attributable to operator error, where car owners had depressed the accelerator pedal instead of the brake pedal. CBS issued a partial retraction, without acknowledging the test results of involved government agencies. Years later, Dateline NBC, a rival to 60 Minutes, was found guilty of similar tactics regarding the fuel tank integrity of General Motors pickup trucks.
In December of 1980, the famous television show 60 Minutes aired a segment concerning the Jeep CJ-5 had a high rollover risk Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) had demonstrated a Jeep rolling over at low speeds during driving. The demonstration was a Jeep rolling over during an extreme turn at 20 mph, something that would not cause other cars to roll over. It was deemed by 60 Minutes as the "most dangerous thing on four wheels". After the show aired, many people were concerned about the safety of the vehicle, and following sales plummeted. This tarnished the reputation of the Jeep CJ and it was later discontinued in 1986. Years after the incident occurred, it was found that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety had attempted to roll the car 435 times, only having 8 rollovers. The show had also failed to mention/show that there were weights hanging on spots of the vehicle that had caused the vehicle to have a higher rollover risk.
In February 1989, 60 Minutes aired a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council claiming that the use of daminozide (Alar) on apples presented an unacceptably high health risk to consumers. Apple sales dropped and CBS was sued unsuccessfully by apple growers. Alar was subsequently banned for use on food crops in the U.S. by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
On March 3, 1991, 60 Minutes broadcast "Werner Erhard," which dealt with controversies involving Erhard's personal and business life. A year after the 60 Minutes piece aired, Erhard filed a lawsuit against CBS, claiming that the broadcast contained several "false, misleading and defamatory" statements about him. One month after filing the lawsuit, Erhard filed for dismissal. Erhard later told Larry King in an interview that he dropped the suit after receiving legal advice telling him that in order to win it, he had to prove not only that CBS knew the allegations were false but also that CBS acted with malice. After numerous independent journalists exposed untruths and factual inaccuracies in the story the segment was removed by CBS from its archives, with a disclaimer: "This segment has been deleted at the request of CBS News for legal or copyright reasons."
Brown & Williamson
In 1995, former Brown & Williamson Vice President for Research and Development Jeffrey Wigand provided information to 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman that B&W had systematically hidden the health risks of their cigarettes (see transcription). Furthermore, it was alleged that B&W had introduced foreign agents (such as fiberglass and ammonia) with the intent of enhancing the effect of nicotine. Bergman began to produce a piece based upon the information, but ran into opposition from Don Hewitt who, along with CBS lawyers, feared a billion dollar lawsuit from Brown and Williamson for tortious interference for encouraging Wigand to violate his non-disclosure agreement. A number of people at CBS would benefit from a sale of CBS to Westinghouse Electric Corporation, including the head of CBS lawyers and CBS News. Also, because of the interview, the son of CBS President Laurence Tisch (who also controlled Lorillard Tobacco) was among the people from the big tobacco companies at risk of being caught having committed perjury. Due to Hewitt's hesitation, The Wall Street Journal instead broke Wigand's story. The 60 Minutes piece was eventually aired with substantially altered content and minus some of the most damning evidence against B&W. The exposé of the incident was published in an article in Vanity Fair by Marie Brenner, entitled "The Man Who Knew Too Much".
The New York Times wrote that "the traditions of Edward R. Murrow and "60 Minutes" itself were diluted in the process," though the newspaper revised the quote slightly, suggesting that 60 Minutes and CBS had "betrayed the legacy of Edward R. Murrow". The incident was turned into a seven-times Oscar-nominated feature film entitled The Insider, directed by Michael Mann and starring Russell Crowe as Wigand, Al Pacino as Bergman, and Christopher Plummer as Mike Wallace. Wallace denounced the portrayal of him as inaccurate to his stance on the issue.
U.S. Customs Service
In 1997, 60 Minutes alleged that agents of the U.S. Customs Service ignored drug trafficking across the Mexico–United States border at San Diego. The only evidence was a memorandum apparently written by Rudy Camacho, who was the head of the San Diego branch office. Based on this memo, CBS alleged that Camacho had allowed trucks belonging to a particular firm to cross the border unimpeded. Mike Horner, a former Customs Service employee, had passed the memos on to 60 Minutes, and even provided a copy with an official stamp. Camacho was not consulted about the piece, and his career was devastated in the immediate term as his own department placed suspicion on him. In the end, it turned out that Horner had forged the documents as an act of revenge for his treatment within the Customs Service. Camacho sued CBS and settled for an undisclosed amount of money in damages. Hewitt was forced to issue an on-air retraction.
A legal battle between archaeologists and the Umatilla tribe over the remains of a skeleton, nicknamed Kennewick Man, was reported by 60 Minutes on October 25, 1998, to which the Umatilla tribe reacted negatively. The tribe considered the segment heavily biased in favor of the scientists, cutting out important arguments, such as explanations of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. The report focused heavily on the racial politics of the controversy and also added inflammatory arguments, such as questioning the legitimacy of Native American sovereignty – much of the racial focus of the segment was later reported to have been either unfounded and/or misinterpreted.
On March 12, 2000, 60 Minutes aired an interview with Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. At the time, McVeigh had already been convicted and sentenced to death for the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in April 1995, and the subsequent deaths of 168 people. On the program, McVeigh was given the opportunity to vent against the government. Following the program, a federal policy called the Special Confinement Unit Media Policy was enacted prohibiting face-to-face interviews with death row inmates. A federal inmate challenged the policy in Hammer v. Ashcroft, under which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld the prison policy. In March 2010, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in the case, and the policy limiting media access to death row inmates remains in place. CBS refuses to show the entire interview, and has stated no reasons.
In recent years, the program has been accused of promoting books, films, and interviews with celebrities who are published or promoted by sister businesses of media conglomerate Viacom (which owned CBS from 2000 to 2005 and since 2019; both companies' shares since 2000 were majority-owned by National Amusements even during their fourteen-year separation) and publisher Simon & Schuster (which remained a part of CBS Corporation after the 2005 CBS/Viacom split and continued on after its re-merger with Viacom), without disclosing the journalistic conflict-of-interest to viewers.
Killian documents controversy
The Killian documents controversy involved six documents critical of President George W. Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard from 1972 to 1973. Four of these documents were presented as authentic in a 60 Minutes Wednesday broadcast aired on September 8, 2004, less than two months before the 2004 presidential election, but it was later found that CBS had failed to authenticate the documents. Subsequently, several typewriter and typography experts concluded the documents are forgeries, as have some media sources. No forensic document examiners or typography experts authenticated the documents, which may not be possible without original documents. The provider of the documents, Lt. Col. Bill Burkett, claimed to have burned the originals after faxing copies to CBS. The whole incident was turned into a feature-length film entitled Truth.
"The Internet Is Infected" episode and the false hacker photo
On March 29, 2009, a segment titled "The Internet Is Infected" aired on 60 Minutes, which featured an interview with Don Jackson, a data protection professional for SecureWorks. Jackson himself declared in the program that "a part of [his] job is to know the enemy". However, during the interview, Jackson showed a photo of Finnish upper-level comprehensive school pupils and misidentified them as Russian hackers. In the photo, one of the children wears a jacket with the Coat of Arms of Finland on it. Another one wears a cap which clearly has the logo of Karjala, a Finnish brand of beer, on it. The principal of the school in Taivalkoski confirmed that the photo was taken at the school about five years before the program was broadcast.
The photo's exact origins are unknown, but it is widely known in Finland, having been originally posted to the Finnish social networking site IRC-Galleria in the early 2000s. It spread all over Finnish internet communities, and even originated a couple of patriotically titled (but intentionally misspelled) mock sites. 60 Minutes later issued a correction and on-air apology.
Subsequent to the 2012 Benghazi attack, 60 Minutes aired a report by correspondent Lara Logan on October 27, 2013, in which British military contractor Dylan Davies, identified by CBS under the pseudonym "Morgan Jones," described racing to the Benghazi compound several hours after the main assault was over, scaling a 12-foot wall and knocking out a lone fighter with the butt of a rifle. He also claimed to have visited a Benghazi hospital earlier that night where he saw Ambassador Christopher Stevens' body.
In the days following the report, Davies' personal actions were challenged. The FBI, which had interviewed Davies several times and considered him a credible source, said the account Davies had given them was different than what he told 60 Minutes. Davies stood by his story, but the inconsistency ultimately prompted 60 Minutes to conclude it was a mistake to include Davies in their report and a correction was issued.
Following the correction, a journalistic review was conducted by Al Ortiz, CBS News' executive director of standards and practices. He determined that red flags about Davies' account were missed. Davies had said to the program and written in his book that he told an alternative version of his actions to his employer, who he said had demanded that he stay inside his Benghazi villa as the attack unfolded. That alternative version was shared with US authorities and 60 Minutes was unable to prove the story Davies had told them was true.
Davies' book, The Embassy House, was published two days after the 60 Minutes report, by Threshold Editions, part of the Simon and Schuster unit of CBS. It was pulled from shelves once 60 Minutes issued its correction.
On November 26, 2013, Lara Logan was forced to take a leave of absence due to the errors in the Benghazi report. This lenient treatment was criticized as showing a double standard compared to CBS's firing of Dan Rather in 2004 over the Killian documents controversy.
On December 15, 2013, 60 Minutes aired a report on the National Security Agency (NSA) that was widely criticized as false and a "puff piece." The story was reported by John Miller, who once worked in the office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Tesla automaker report
On March 30, 2014, 60 Minutes presented a story on the Tesla Model S luxury electric automobile, with Scott Pelley conducting an interview with CEO Elon Musk concerning the car brand as well as his company SpaceX. Within a day, the automotive blog site Jalopnik reported that the sounds accompanying footage of the car shown during the story were actually sounds from a traditional gasoline engine dubbed over the footage, when in reality the electric car makes no such sounds. CBS released a statement explaining that the sound was the result of an audio editing error, and subsequently removed the sound from the online version of the piece. However, several news outlets, as well as Jalopnik itself, expressed doubt over the authenticity of this explanation, noting the similar scandal involving Tesla Motors and the New York Times in 2013.
After the resignation of CBS news head Les Moonves, an investigation into sexual harassment at CBS, including 60 Minutes, uncovered evidence of long-running sexual harassment issues stemming from behavior of producers Jeff Fager and Don Hewitt.
Florida COVID-19 vaccine rollout
In April 2021, Sharyn Alfonsi's story in 60 Minutes on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the state's COVID-19 vaccine rollout faced criticism for suggesting that a donation by the supermarket chain Publix to DeSantis' re-election campaign influenced Florida's partnership with Publix stores for vaccine distribution. Subsequently, Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner accused 60 Minutes of reporting "intentionally false" information, while others characterized Alfonsi as coming off as a "political activist" in the segment. A spokesperson for 60 Minutes defended the story for having included DeSantis' response to the accusation. PolitiFact stated that by omitting DeSantis' remarks on why the state partnered with Publix to distribute vaccines, the clip could be considered to be "Deceptive editing".
Facial Recognition report
On May 16, 2021, Anderson Cooper's story in 60 Minutes on the flaws in facial recognition technology used by the police resulting in incorrect identification of people of color received backlash for denying credit to the Black female researchers who pioneered the field. The segment was criticized by the Algorithmic Justice League for "deliberately excluding the groundbreaking and award-winning work of prominent Black women AI researchers Joy Buolamwini, Dr. Timnit Gebru, and Inioluwa Deborah Raji". The segment was called out for its hypocrisy for failing to credit Black women for their pioneering work in a segment highlighting how facial recognition software often leaves out Black, Asian, and female faces. CBS later issued a statement explaining that these researchers were not included due to time restrictions of the segment.
The main 60 Minutes show has created a number of spin-offs over the years.
30 Minutes was a news magazine aimed at children that was patterned after 60 Minutes, airing as the final program in CBS's Saturday morning lineup from 1978 to 1982. It was hosted by Christopher Glenn (who also served as the voice-over for the interstitial program In the News and was an anchor on the CBS Radio Network), along with Betsy Aaron (1978–1980) and Betty Ann Bowser (1980–1982).
60 Minutes More
60 Minutes More was a spin-off that ran for one season from 1996 to 1997. The episodes featured popular stories from the past that were expanded with updates on the original story. Each episode featured three of these segments.
60 Minutes II
In 1999, a second edition of 60 Minutes was started in the United States, titled 60 Minutes II. This edition was later renamed 60 Minutes for the fall of 2004 in an effort to sell it as a high-quality program, since some had sarcastically referred to it as 60 Minutes, Jr. CBS News president Andrew Heyward said, "the Roman numeral II created some confusion on the part of the viewers and suggested a watered-down version". However, a widely known controversy which came to be known as "Rathergate", regarding a report that aired on September 8, 2004, caused another name change. The program was retitled 60 Minutes Wednesday both to differentiate itself and to avoid tarnishing the Sunday edition, as the editions were editorially independent from one another. It reverted to its original Roman numeral title on July 8, 2005, when the program moved to Fridays in an 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time slot to finish its run. The show aired its final broadcast on September 2, 2005.
60 Minutes on CNBC
In 2011, CNBC began airing a 60 Minutes spin-off of its own, called 60 Minutes on CNBC. Hosted by Lesley Stahl and Steve Kroft, it airs updated business-related reports seen on the original broadcasts and offers footage that was not included when the segments first aired.
60 Minutes Sports
In 2013, CBS's sister premium television network Showtime premiered 60 Minutes Sports, a monthly spin-off focused on sports-related stories and classic interviews from the show's archives. Personalities from CBS Sports also contributed to the program. The spin-off was considered to be a competitor to HBO's Real Sports, and was cancelled in January 2017.
60 in 6
In June 2020, the show launched 60 in 6 on Quibi, featuring original weekly 6-minute programs. Correspondents are Enrique Acevedo, Seth Doane, Wesley Lowery, and Laurie Segall. It had originally been announced to launch in April 2020. On the June 21, 2020 broadcast of 60 in 6, Seth Doane covered the show's exposure to COVID-19 in a piece titled CBS News Battles COVID-19. The piece mentions that CBS News flew in staffers, including those located in Seattle and Rome in early March 2020 to begin filming promotional material for 60 in 6. This brought COVID-19 positive individuals in close contact with CBS employees and resulted in the shutdown of multiple buildings located in Manhattan, including the CBS Broadcast Center.
25th anniversary edition
For the 60 Minutes 25th anniversary in 1993, Charles Kuralt interviewed Don Hewitt, the active correspondents, some former correspondents, and revisited notable stories and celebrities.
The Australian version of 60 Minutes premiered on February 11, 1979. It still airs each Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. on the Nine Network and affiliates. Although Nine Network has the rights to the format, as of 2007, it does not have rights to stories from the U.S. program, which is owned by competitor 10 News Australia after Network Ten's acquisition by CBS in 2017. Nevertheless, stories from the flagship 60 Minutes program in the U.S. often air on the Australian program by subleasing them from Ten. In 1981, 60 Minutes won a Logie Award for their investigation of lethal abuses at the Chelmsford psychiatric hospital in Sydney.
In the mid-1980s, an edited version (approx. 30 minutes in length) of the U.S. broadcast edition of 60 Minutes, entitled "60 Minutes: CBS im Dritten" ("60 Minutes: CBS on Channel 3") was shown for a time on West German television. This version retained the English-language soundtrack of the original, but also featured German subtitles.
The New Zealand version of 60 Minutes has aired on national television since 1989, when it was originally launched on TV3. In 1992, the rights were acquired by TVNZ, who began broadcasting it in 1993. The network aired the program for nine years before dropping it in 2002 for its own program, entitled Sunday, which is currently the highest-rated current affairs show broadcast on New Zealand television, followed by 20/20. 60 Minutes was broadcast by rival network TV3, before switching to the Sky Television owned Prime channel in 2013, when the contract changed hands.
The original programs are shown in Portugal on SIC Notícias with introductory and closing remarks by journalist Mário Crespo.
The news program of National Broadcasting of Chile (TVN), the public television network in that country, was named 60 Minutos ("60 Minutes") from 1975 to 1988, but the program had no association with the US version and no investigative reporting.
- A Mexican version, which featured Juan Ruiz Healy serving as anchor, aired in the late 1970s and 1980s.
- A Peruvian version aired in the early 1980s, called 60 Minutos. However, in the late 1980s there was also a similarly named series, but unrelated to the series produced by CBS News.
- In 2004, Brazil's Rede Bandeirantes planned a licensed localized version, but the plan was canceled.
- Edited reruns of 60 Minutes interviews have aired on various cable channels in the United States, including TV Land and ESPN Classic.
- In Thailand, 60 Minutes (Thailand) was broadcast on TV 9 (from 1995 to 1997) and BBTV Channel 7 (from 2002 to 2003).
- In Catalonia, 60 Minutes has been broadcast by TV3 (Catalonia) for 27 seasons.
- This Hour Has Seven Days, and W5 both of which pre-dates 60 Minutes by a couple of years, are similar in journalistic style and format
- Announced on the December 3, 2017 episode
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A Federal judge today dismissed a lawsuit that apple growers in Washington State filed against CBS after "60 Minutes" broadcast a report linking the chemical Alar to cancer. The report, broadcast Feb. 26, 1989, said the use of Alar increased the risk of cancer in humans, particularly children, and cited a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
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