I'm OK With "58 Minutes"
I grew up with 60 Minutes, and in my house, it was difficult not to. It debuted in September 1968 just shy of my fourth birthday with hosts like Walter Cronkite, Roger Mudd and Charles Kurault (among others), and in my home, Sunday night wasn’t complete without it.
Since we ate dinner at precisely 5:30 p.m. every day (and I’m sure my mom still does), the show’s 6 p.m. telecast was perfect for us; however back then, another Sunday night show – The Wonderful World of Disney – was likely what drew the attention of most kids my age. But if you found yourself in the Haznaw home on a Sunday evening gathered around our one and only television (and I did), you’d be watching 60 Minutes.
Even as a small child I loved the show, and in the process, never gave much thought to The Wonderful World of Disney, a show that became Monday morning playground conversation for the kids at St. Henry’s Catholic School. That meant that while my friends and classmates were talking about the antics and escapades of Herbie the Love Bug or The World’s Strongest Man, my thoughts turned to the border war between India and Pakistan, the Watergate scandal, or the debate in Congress over the Equal Rights Amendment.
At any rate, I’m not here to discuss the history of 60 Minutes or the role it has played in my life (though it is tempting). Today, I simply want to call out something I noticed last night as Joan and I settled in -- a “next generation” 60 Minutes family -- to be informed, influenced and entertained by three stories delivered in documentary fashion that has been the trademark of the show since the ticking stopwatch first graced the screen nearly 53 years ago.
During the intro, each of the week’s hosts introduces themselves: “I’m Leslie Stahl, Bill Whitaker, I’m Steve Pelley,” etc. After introductions, Scott Pelley (always the final host in the intro these days, probably a contractual thing) says “… those stories and more, tonight on 60 Minutes.”
Years ago, that intro concluded with “… those stories and Andy Rooney, tonight on 60 Minutes.” If you’re not old enough or didn’t watch, Andy Rooney was a curmudgeonly sort with bushy eyebrows and a rumpled suit who used up the final two or three minutes of the show to make sometimes interesting, sometimes funny, often ironic observations about things and people. After Rooney’s death, the show decided to simply go with “and more” as a wrap-up.
Thing is, and I noticed this last night, there really isn’t any “and more” anymore. Instead, they do their customary three stories, and close with a suggestion to visit the CBS web site to get additional content. “That’s the ‘and more?’” I asked rhetorically at the conclusion of last night’s show. “I’m supposed to go to cbs.com if I want any ‘more?’ Seems like a copout.”
This comment seemed interesting to Joan, but not interesting enough that she’d want me to continue. (I get it.) So, I decided to continue the conversation in my head because I had more to say (or at least, to think) about the situation.
“C’mon, that’s not ‘more’ in my book; that’s laziness,” I thought. It would be like inviting you to my house for “dinner and drinks” and then, just as we sat down to dinner, I’d say, “If you want a drink, go get it yourself, they’re in the kitchen. And by the way, bring me back a white wine.”
To be clear, when it comes to 60 Minutes, a show I grew up with and have loved all my life (and that’s no exaggeration), I don’t need “more” than what they provide. Fact is, I wasn’t always crazy about Andy Rooney when he played the role of “and more” back in the day. (I was more of an Erma Bombeck or Sam Levinson fan; now I’m really dating myself.)
What bothers me is the announcement of “and more” and then this presumption that I’m willing to do the heavy lifting to go get it. I’m not claiming false advertising (though for someone who has watched a news documentary show for more than five decades, it wouldn’t be outside the realm to find me shaking my fist at the TV and yelling precisely those words), but for a show with such a long, storied history, and a reputation to uphold in an era when the media is under more scrutiny and criticism than ever before, I think 60 Minutes might be getting a bit sloppy with its approach, semantically speaking.
All I’m saying is this: give me “and more” or don’t give me “and more,” I don’t care. But if you’re going to announce it, don’t make me work for it. That’s rude.
And was Erma Bombeck ever even considered?
© 2021 David R. Haznaw