Time up for 60 Minutes?

 
60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace signs books in 2005. Critics contend that 60 Minutes hasn't been the same since Mike Wallace left

The New York Times' David Carr had a fairly scathing takedown of 60 Minutes on Monday. The venerable CBS News programme recently had to apologise for a poorly sourced story on the Benghazi consulate attack and faced criticism for what was considered an overly complimentary piece on the National Security Agency.

According to Carr, it all comes down to the correspondents shying away from the sort of hard-hitting journalism on which 60 Minutes' reputation was built.

"In the last few months, there have been significant lapses into credulousness, when reporters have been more 'gee whiz' than 'what gives?'" he writes. "The news that 60 Minutes is calling could be viewed as less ominous and more of an opportunity."

He concludes: "60 Minutes is a calling, not an assignment, and the programme should not be the kind of outfit that leaves its scepticism at the door to get inside."

This caps a week during which the news programme has become a punching bag for both the left and the right.

Start Quote

60 Minutes is desperately in need of a news package that earns it praise rather than criticism”

End Quote Dylan Byers Politico

The National Review's media editor, Elaina Johnson, highlighted another recent 60 Minutes segment, featuring a glowing portrait of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

"Over the past year, the program has made it look as if there is virtually a quid pro quo: If you let 60 Minutes in on the inner working of your affairs, the show's reporters will check their journalistic judgment at the door," she writes.

Scott Shackford in Reason writes: "60 Minutes ran not one, but two full segments about the NSA's data collection and Edward Snowden scandals, told entirely from the NSA's perspective and with absolutely no critical voices."

And Politico's media critic Dylan Byers:

60 Minutes is desperately in need of a news package that earns it praise rather than criticism. It needs to put up a hard-hitting investigation, fact-checked to the teeth, that doesn't come off as a promotional puff-piece. Because its reputation as the gold standard of television journalism has taken some serious hits of late.

It's hard not to detect a certain amount of glee from conservatives on this topic, as they've long viewed 60 Minutes as having a left-leaning bias (of course, they feel that way about most of the mainstream media, but that's beside the point).

In particular, they cite a 60 Minutes II story in 2004 on President George W Bush's Air National Guard service, in which the authenticity of a document used in the report was cast into doubt. The resulting scandal ended with the forced resignation of long-time CBS News reporter and network anchor Dan Rather (who continues to stand by the story).

For the show also to have its credibility questioned from the left does not bode well. The clock is ticking for 60 Minutes to figure out how to recover.

 

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 58.

    20. peakchoicedotorg - funny all the conspiracy theorists want to use todays forensics - when its done and proves lone gunman- oh it must be a lie.

    As you don't watch TV you probably also missed the BBC about Scotland Yard & how they used CCTV to watch criminal group planning a diamond heist & catch them in the act.

    I watch 60 minutes when it has segments that interest me.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 57.

    I'm among those who have concluded that the main stream media in general and Sixty Minutes In particular have lost a great deal of credibility in recent times; some would say most or nearly all credibility but I won't go quite so far myself.

    The liberal element will never admit it, but msm liberal bias is responsible for the very existence of Fox News and talk radio.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 56.

    The BBC America does a fair job of talking-head reporting. Diane Sawyer always seems on the verge of breathless hysteria, and as far as 60 Minutes goes, excessive alcohol consumption began to show a long time ago. The on-line pages are much more satisfactory, and I glean my news from the BBC, CNN, and NBC pages. The days of the "news commentator" are long gone.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 55.

    I can count in one hand if not one finger the news sources that can be considered worthy of independent investigative quality in the USA. Long live international independent media...not that other countries have not given in to American style commercial news...but there is a web of independent news if people take the time to search, inform and disseminate fact from fiction...

  • rate this
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    Comment number 54.

    If you want to go back to 2004 - I still stand by Dan Rather on that story as well.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 53.

    60 minutes is no longer an unbiased reporting news segment of CBS. It is a Democratic Party mouth piece, biased and caught several times with inaccurate articles that they have had to recant. Like the other ntaional network companies with the exception of Fox it has a liberal and socialist agenda. Unbiased and fair reporting on the national network stations in the USA is a thing of the past.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 52.

    There is no reportage by any press source in any country that is not biased. Some are more blatant than others, so claim to be unbiased and are not, but they ALL ARE. One has to gather information from several sources to try and fathom something of the "truth." Sadly, most people are too lazy or stupid to do that.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 51.

    Not surprised. Its isn't about the news, its about selling, profits through ads. Keep the people interested by any means. Now, like most mass produced things, its cheap.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 50.

    60 Minutes has made mistakes in the past. Back in the 1980s its reporter Barry Lando working directly under the venerated Mike Wallace did a number on a general from the Vietnam War which was wrong and libelous. Lando was moved to France (where I then lived) to help him and CBS escape from the legal consequences. He now lives in Britain. There is nothing new in news backgrounders stumbling.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 49.

    #43 madison paine "The only way to get reasonably unbiased news about America is to read British sources. No, this isn't a pitch for the BBC."

    Oh please. The last place I'd look for unbiased news about the US is anything even remotely British.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 48.

    The downhill slide began with Dan Rather's discredited report of G. W. Bush's alleged desertion from his National Guard post. It continued with the discredited Benghazi report and was further exacerbated by the recent infomercial for the NSA! It's sad because 60 Minutes was great at one time. This is another result of the new infotainment news format!

  • Comment number 47.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 46.

    I saw mike wallace interviewing the president of Iran, it was disgusting. I don't agree with the president of Iran, but Mike was acting like a pitbull and ignoring the valid points the president was making. Then, i realized they are just a propaganda machine.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 45.

    Wallace and Safer were journalists; Croft, Stahl, Pelley, et al, are HACKS.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 44.

    I remember the original old 60 Minutes. Mike Wallace had no peer in fearlessness. He was prepared, he confronted miscreants. Morley Safer, the last of the original correspondents, was tough too, although of gentler demeanor. The present program does not compare. Perhaps its time is indeed at an end.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 43.

    The only way to get reasonably unbiased news about America is to read British sources. No, this isn't a pitch for the BBC.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 42.

    When a large narrative is put together and propagated, there is an almost lemming-like regurgitation by other talents. Being naturally lazy, wanting to continue to be liked, not to be cut off, and to continue to slop at the trough said talents go along with the "Big Lie" - at least until the audience and critics begin to pan them as fool - at which point some questions may be asked by them.

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    Comment number 41.

    Most news organizations have become the pets of advertising and promotion. Pseudo News is posted as important and later you see the PR releases of some person's new book, film or "surprising confession" in a new book or film. Though the BBC is often clear of this even they stray into the Rah Rah promotion of the historic 50 years of Doctor Who and watch our specials and buy our products.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 40.

    None of us, whether you lean left or right or wherever, should willingly watch biased news. You have to find an outlet that is as neutral as possible which simply presents you with the facts, then make your own judgements. Blowhards with an agenda on tv and radio are a huge cause of all the dysfunction we suffer from at the moment in my opinion.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 39.

    When between 70 to 95% of American journalists are grads of Columbia or any other "school of journalism" that some form of groupthink must be in play. Most of these talents go from K-12 then straight to college, without ever working elsewhere and getting any perspective but what they are spoonfed.

    Wasn't "politically correct" one of Lenin's constructs? (It could have been Bukharin's... Sorry!)

 

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