Don Hewitt, the CBS Newsman that invented “60 Minutes” died Wednesday of pancreatic cancer. He was 86. Read more on Don Hewitt’s death below.
Hewitt died of pancreatic cancer at his home in Bridgehampton. Don’s death comes a month after fellow CBS legend Walter Kronkite passed away.
Hewitt produced the first presidential debate on televison between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960.
The television newsmagazine was born on Sept. 24, 1968, when the “60 Minutes”began.
“The formula is simple,” he wrote in a memoir in 2001, “and it’s reduced to four words every kid in the world knows: Tell me a story. It’s that easy.”
Reporters for the show 60 Minutes included Mike Wallace, Harry Reasoner, Morley Safer, Ed Bradley and Diane Sawyer also reported for the show.
Don Hewitt’s bio from AP:
Donald Shepard Hewitt was born in New York City on Dec. 14, 1922, and grew up in the suburb of New Rochelle. He dropped out of New York University to become a copy boy at the New York Herald Tribune. He joined the Merchant Marines during World War II and worked as a correspondent posted to Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s London headquarters.
After the war and a few brief journalism jobs, he took a job as an associate director at CBS News in 1948.
During his tenure, “60 Minutes” was often a place where people came to make news. Presidential candidate Bill Clinton addressed questions of infidelity in 1992, and Al Gore used the show to announce he wouldn’t run for president in 2004.
Hewitt often said he was proud of his show’s ability to exonerate innocent people through investigations, such as when a Texas man sent to jail for life for robbery was freed after Safer discredited the evidence against him.
When “60 Minutes” showed a tape of Dr. Jack Kevorkian lethally injecting a patient in 1998, it ignited a debate on euthanasia and the proper role of a TV news show.
Hewitt was the subject of an unflattering portrait in the 1999 movie “The Insider,” which depicted him caving to pressure from CBS lawyers and not airing a whistleblowing report from an ex-tobacco executive. The full report eventually aired.
Although bitter at the former “60 Minutes” producer who became a hero of “The Insider” for fighting to air the story, Hewitt later said he wasn’t proud of his actions.
Hewitt had said he wanted to “die at my desk,” creating a delicate situation for CBS. The show’s ratings were declining and it had the oldest audience in television, as well as some of the oldest correspondents.
Hewitt, then 80, was persuaded to announce in January 2003 that he would step down at the conclusion of the 2003-2004 season, which he did. In return, CBS gave him a contract that would pay him through age 90.
Don Hewitt is survived by his wife, Marilyn, had four children. Our condolences to
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