Morley Safer’s Canadian Sensibility Rounded His Work, say Fellow Journalists


Morley Safer became entrenched in the U.S. but never lost his Canadian sensibility, said fellow journalists on Thursday in honouring the “remarkable career” of the Toronto-born “60 Minutes” correspondent.

It was a special quality that gave him an edge while reporting on major news events including the Vietnam War, which launched his career to another level, said former PBS journalist Robert MacNeil, who grew up in Halifax and knew Safer.

“He had that little bit of ironic distance that Canadians have about the United States  they love it, they love coming here because it’s a wider sphere of opportunity, but they have that little sardonic twitch about the United States,” said MacNeil, during an interview from New York.  “He was the best of the best.”

CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge said Safer like several Canadian journalists who moved to the U.S. saw the world “through big eyes.”  “Because of our place in the world, we tend to look beyond the impact that any international story has on the superpower, which is them, (and look at) the world itself,” he said.  “And he definitely had that quality.”

Fox News senior national correspondent John Roberts spent 14 years with CBS and said Safer was  “like the fixtures on the wall  he was part of the architecture.”

While they worked in different buildings and didn’t see each other often, they shared a common background as Torontonians and Roberts had fond memories of his encounters with the seasoned journalist.

“He always had a wry sense of humour and this air of sarcasm around him almost like a wink, a nod that he really knew the inside story and wasn’t completely letting on everything that he knew,” Roberts said in a phone interview from Atlanta.

“He always gave you a sense that he knew more than what he was talking about. He was an interesting fellow. A little bit of a curmudgeon to some degree, but you knew that he had the reporting chops to back it all up.”

CTV chief correspondent and “W5”  host Lloyd Robertson, who had the chance to meet with Safer on several occasions over the years, called him a “legend” for his intrepid reporting in Vietnam.

“As a journalist, he really was a legend in the sense that he was the one who in getting at the real truth of what was going on in Vietnam helped to bring that news story to the forefront,”  said Robertson.

“And also, I think he probably was the one who more than any other reporter on the scene at the time was responsible for making the story what it became: which was a huge news story for the last half of the decade.”



  1. There I was a few days ago, posting how great it was that Morley had a chance to enjoy retirement. Silly me. The old pros at 60 Minutes either die in the saddle (Ed Bradley, Bob Simon) or just after announcing their departure (Mike Wallace, Andy Rooney).

    One wonders whether Morley shared his health woes with management, prompting them to air the tribute last Sunday when he was still able to watch it?

    I’ll be watching Fox News Sunday this weekend to see if Chris Wallace makes a mention of Morley’s passing. Until I saw last Sunday’s CBS tribute, I was unaware that Chris’s father, Mike Wallace, launched 60 Minutes with Morley. With just the two of them early on, it’s easy to see how they filed hundreds of segments during their years (Morley’s final tally: 919.)

    Although Mike and Morley famously bickered, they seemed to be at peace with one another when interviewing each other for the Wallace retirement show. I hope Chris Wallace takes a few minutes to reflect on their flinty-but-fruitful relationship.

  2. Actually, Rocker Rich, as I recall, Mike Wallace began 60 Minutes alongside Harry Reasoner. Morley joined the show some 2 years in, in 1970.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here