Morley Safer   Letter 02   19-Mar-1996   Contempt for the viewer

March 19, 1996

Morley Safer
60 Minutes, CBS Television
51 W 52nd Street
New York, NY
USA      10019

Dear Mr. Safer:

I have been resisting occasional impulses to expand and amplify "The Ugly Face of 60 Minutes," which as you know is my December 1994 critique of 60 Minutes broadcast "The Ugly Face of Freedom" as it presently stands, this critique covers the main points adequately, and I do not have time to polish it.  Occasionally, however, some defect or other of the 60 Minutes broadcast presents itself from a new angle, and I find myself wondering if adding a description of this freshly-viewed defect to my critique would not strengthen it.  For example, just now I thought of adding:

Mr. Safer tells us of the Lviv reunion of Galicia Division veterans that "Nowhere, not even in Germany, are the SS so openly celebrated," and yet does not pause to explain how it can be that in this most open of all celebrations of the SS, not a single portrait of Hitler can be seen, not a single hand is raised in a Heil Hitler salute, no Nazi marching songs are being sung or played, no Nazi speeches are recorded, not a single swastika is anywhere on display not even a single "SS" can be discovered anywhere among the many medals and insignia worn by the veterans.  So devoid is this reunion of any of the signs that one might expect in any open celebration of the SS that one wonders what led Mr. Safer to the conclusion that that is what it was.  Perhaps it is the case that Mr. Safer was so carried away by his enthusiasm for the feelings that he was sharing with 60 Minutes viewers that he quite overlooked the absence of corroborative evidence.  But if so, then is it not the case that he was taking another step toward turning a broadcast that purported to be one of investigative journalism into an Oprah Winfrey-style I-bare-my-secret-emotions-to-all-fest, with the secret emotions bared being those of the correspondent himself?

What do you think? Would this paragraph be worth adding or not?  Perhaps it is too strong, and would only weaken the critique?  On the other hand, how else to get CBS to retract and to winnow its staff of offending personnel than by stating the defects of "The Ugly Face of Freedom" boldly?

Yours truly,

Lubomyr Prytulak

cc: Ed Bradley, Steve Kroft, Michael Jordan, Lesley Stahl, Mike Wallace.