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Andy Rooney signing off
September 28, 2011 - Stephen Browne
This Sunday Andy Rooney will sign off with his 1,097th piece for "60 Minutes."
I suppose we ought to cut him some slack, he's 92 after all! For a sendoff he'll be interviewed by comparative youngster Morley Safer, aged 79.
Listing all of them would make a book longer than any he's written, but here are some of Rooney's significant career highlights.
- Served in the U.S. Army in WWII writing for "The Stars and Stripes" army newspaper. One of six correspondents to fly with first American bombing raid over Germany. One of the first American journalists to visit Nazi concentration camps towards the end of the war.
- Joined CBS in 1949 as a writer for "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts."
- Joined "60 Minutes" in 1978.
- Suspended for three months in 1990 for remarks allegedly disparaging blacks and gays. Rooney denied making some of the remarks but accepted the suspension rather than resign. Since Rooney won an Emmy in 1968 for his script for the documentary "Black History: Lost, Stolen, or Strayed," and was arrested in the 1940s for protesting segregated buses - way before it was cool, charges of bigotry ring a bit hollow. CBS magnanimously decided to forgive Rooney after "60 Minutes" lost 20 percent of its audience.
It should be noted that some of us suspect Rooney was being punished for other remarks he most definitely made. After former CBS employee Bernard Goldberg published a book alleging pervasive media bias, singling out Dan Rather in particular, Rooney told Larry King that Goldberg was "a jerk" but that Rather was "transparently liberal."
He also freely confessed, "There is just no question that I, among others, have a liberal bias. I mean, I'm consistently liberal in my opinions."
And, on one of his "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney" segments he ranted about women football commentators. It was a basically good-natured tongue-in-cheek piece about how football was our guy thing, but certain feminists took exception.
However, Rooney outlasted Rather who was pushed out of the major networks in disgrace after staking his career on a story about George W. Bush based on a pretty obvious forgery.
I wonder, is Andy Rooney the last working journalist who covered World War II from the front lines? Nobody has mentioned this to my knowledge, but it seems probable.
Rooney knew that news is not just earth-shaking events, but the everyday concerns and irritations of ordinary people. With Rooney, what you see is what you get. He had his opinions, but he was up-front with them and didn't try to pretend he was being strictly objective, unlike some less honest colleagues. We will not see his like again.
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