Morley Safer, who was a correspondent on CBS’s 60 Minutes from 1970 until just last week, has died at age 84.
There will be hundreds of obituaries about Safer, but at least so far, there’s been no mention of what I think was one of the most important stories he ever told. …
An agency man raised the problem that had preoccupied Ambassador Maxwell Taylor and [U.S. spokesman] Barry Zorthian — about the credibility of American officials. Responded the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs:
“Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you’re stupid. Did you hear that? – stupid.”
One of the most respected of all the newsmen in Vietnam – a veteran of World War II, the Indochina War and Korea – suggested that Sylvester was being deliberately provocative. Sylvester replied:
“Look, I don’t even have to talk to you people. I know how to deal with you through your editors and publishers back in the States.”
At this point, the Hon. Arthur Sylvester put his thumbs in his ears, bulged his eyes, stuck out his tongue and wiggled his fingers.