Tick... Tick... Tick...

Free Tick... Tick... Tick... by David Blum

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Authors: David Blum
accustomed to the fame that came from anchoring a nightly network newscast, not to mention the better hours and lighter workload. While Wallace was happy with his newfound berth as Hewitt’s hatchet man, Reasoner rankled at the notion that this might be the end of the line for him. CBS News management continued to think of him as lazy, and he knew there wasn’t much chance of advancement, whereas the opportunity to anchor the evening news on ABC represented a step forward, as well as more money for less effort. His decision to leave 60 Minutes turned out to be surprisingly effortless.
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    The first call Hewitt made after getting Reasoner’s resignation was to Charles Kuralt.
    By the fall of 1970 , the talented CBS News correspondent had become a household name with a series of oddball reports he’d been doing for the Cronkite show called “On the Road,” in which Kuralt and a cameraman would pile into a Volkswagen bus and drive across the United States in search of stories. Kuralt began his “On the Road” reports in the fall of 1967 from Vermont and New Hampshire, where he kicked things off with an elegy to fall foliage. (“To drive along a Vermont country road in this season is to be dazzled by the shower of lemon and scarlet and gold that washes across your windshield.”) Within months, Kuralt had found himself a permanent assignment and a huge following among viewers. His deep, distinctive voice and affable personality appealed to an audience in search of comfort in the midst of an unpopular war in Southeast Asia and student unrest at home—and to a producer like Hewitt who needed a new big-name anchor for his struggling Tuesday night show. But Kuralt had no interest in giving up his gig, going into its fourth year; besides, he had his own issues with Hewitt’s style. He hated Hewitt’s propensity to cut things short, believing his limited attention span would be the ruin of ruminative stories of the sort Kuralt wrote.
    After Kuralt refused Hewitt, the next candidate was Morley Safer, then the London bureau chief of CBS News, an erudite Canadian who’d made a considerable name for himself reporting from such foreign battlegrounds as Vietnam, Nigeria, and Northern Ireland. Safer grew up in Toronto, where his father owned an upholstery business. In 1951 , he was hired as a reporter on the Woodstock, Ontario, Sentinel-Review . From there he made his way to a job with the Canadian Broadcasting Company, where at first he was more producer than correspondent. He wrote copy for the nightly newscast before being switched to a show called CBC Newsmagazine, which bore a vague resemblance to the format later perfected by 60 Minutes (a point that still rankles Safer in less charitable moments). Later, he moved to London and covered the 1956 Israel-Egypt war for Canadian television.
    For several years he reported from Africa and Europe until he was hired away by CBS News in 1964 by Fred Friendly, who made him the number two correspondent in London and sent him almost immediately to the growing conflict in Vietnam. In October 1965 , Safer and two CBS cameramen were shot down in a helicopter 280 miles north of Saigon. In 1966 , the New York Times reported that the assistant secretary of defense had written to Friendly objecting to a Safer story—one that showed U.S. Marines burning a South Vietnamese village at Cam Ne.
    On November 12 , 1970 , Bill Leonard called Safer in Paris, where he was covering the funeral of French president Charles de Gaulle, to offer him the 60 Minutes job. “Shit, can you call back in a year?” was Safer’s response. He had a new baby daughter born the previous April, and the family had just moved into a newly renovated house in London. The 39 -year-old foreign correspondent, a dandyish dresser with a taste for the finer things, rather liked his London life—which included the ownership of an antique Rolls Royce—and wasn’t

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