Morley Safer, 84, Retires From CBS

Morley Safer, the 84-year-old, Toronto-born journalist who hosted 60 Minutes for more than 45 years, is retiring this week, CBS News announced.

Safer grew up in Toronto, attended Harbord Collegiate Institute, Bloor Collegiate, Clinton Street Public and the University of Western Ontario.

His journalism career included stints at the Woodstock Sentinel-Review, London Free Press, Toronto Telegram and Reuters. Safer’s first jobs in broadcasting were with the CBC, working as a correspondent and producer.

In 1964, he joined CBS News as a London-based correspondent. The following year, he opened the CBS News bureau in Saigon.

Early on in that assignment, he followed some U.S. Marines who burned the homes of villagers who’d been evacuated. When Safer’s report on this event was broadcast, then-U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson reacted angrily. Suspecting that Safer was a communist, he ordered a security check.

Informed that Safer “wasn’t a communist, just a Canadian,” LBJ responded: “Well, I knew he wasn’t an American.”

That story by Safer was among the top 100 works in U.S. journalism of the 20th century chosen by New York University’s journalism department.

A special about Safer’s life and work will be broadcast on CBS on Sunday. In it, Safer says he didn’t really like being on television.

“It makes me uneasy. It is not natural to be talking to a piece of machinery. But the money is very good.”