60 Minutes: 40 YEARS AT THE TOP

60 Minutes: 40 YEARS AT THE TOP














Sept. 24, 1968


60 Minutes debuts with Mike Wallace and Harry Reasoner as principal reporters and Don Hewitt as executive producer.
















Dec. 1, 1970
Harry Reasoner leaves to join ABC News.






Dec. 1, 1970
Morley Safer's first report for 60 Minutes.

(Photo: CBS)








August 1975


First Lady Betty Ford talks to Morley Safer about the issue of premarital sex and her teenage daughter.













October 1975
Dan Rather joins 60 Minutes.

(Photo: CBS)








Dec. 7, 1975

The broadcast moves to its 7 p.m. Sunday time slot after appearing in various slots.





May 1978

Finishes in the Nielsen Top 10 programs for the first time.




July 2, 1978


"Three Minutes or So with Andy Rooney" debuts. Andy's comments become a weekly tradition a year later.
















Aug. 1, 1978

Harry Reasoner returns to CBS News after eight years and rejoins 60 Minutes in December.




January 1979


Mike Wallace conducts an interview with Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini, asking him for a response to being called a "lunatic" by Egypt's President Sadat.











June 24, 1979


Ed Bradley's first report on 60 Minutes looks at the plight of the "boat people" - refugees from the Vietnam War. Bradley joins the broadcast in October 1981.












May 1980

Is number one for the season in the Nielsen ratings for first time.




November 1980


Dan Rather reports from inside Afghanistan.












March 1981
Dan Rather succeeds Walter Cronkite as anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News but continues filing reports for 60 Minutes.

(Photo: CBS/AP)







December 1983


A Morley Safer report leads to the release of Lenell Geter, an engineer wrongly convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to a life term in Texas.












Aug. 22, 1984
Diane Sawyer joins the broadcast.

(Photo: CBS)








Nov. 10, 1985

The 1,500th original segment is broadcast.




May 1988

60 Minutes finishes 11th straight season in the Nielsen Top 10, breaking the streak held by CBS's "Lucy" programs.




February 1989

Diane Sawyer announces she's leaving CBS News.





Sept. 24, 1989
Steve Kroft's first 60 Minutes report airs, on occupational exposure to the AIDS virus.

(Photo: CBS)








Jan. 21, 1990

Meredith Vieira's first report, on the sale of exotic wild animals, airs on 60 Minutes.




February 1990

Andy Rooney is suspended for three months for "insubordination." (Rooney returned after three weeks.)




November 1990

Reasoner says he'll step down at the season's end to become "editor emeritus."




February 1991

Vieira's request to extend her part-time status is denied. She's reassigned to other CBS News broadcasts at the end of the season.





March 1991
Lesley Stahl is named co-editor to replace Reasoner when he leaves.

(Photo: CBS)








May 19, 1991

Harry Reasoner signs off. In June, Reasoner was hospitalized. He passed away on Aug. 6, 1991, at age 68.




January 1992


Steve Kroft interviews Governor Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary.












September 1995

Wins its 50th Emmy Award. ("Founder's Award" to executive producer Don Hewitt.)




November 1995

Interview with tobacco whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand is not broadcast due to a possible billion-dollar lawsuit. On Feb. 4, 1996, the interview was subsequently broadcast.




February 1996


Mike Wallace's report airs on tobacco whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand.












April 28, 1996

New commentators, Molly Ivins, Stanley Crouch and P.J. O'Rourke, debut. Also, radio simulcasts of 60 Minutes begin on stations in Chicago, Minneapolis and New York in addition to Los Angeles, where test began on March 24.




May 1996

When Associated Press writer Frazier Moore writes that Andy Rooney should retire, Rooney asks viewers to vote on it and call and mail the AP with their votes; the AP is inundated with thousands of calls and letters, the vast majority for Rooney; Moore writes clarification. That same month, it is announced that the commentators segment will be cancelled after six weeks due to negative audience mail.





June 1996
CBS News foreign correspondent Bob Simon becomes a formal contributor. Also, through a unique agreement with CNN, its chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour becomes a 60 Minutes contributor.

(Photo: CBS)









Nov. 3, 1996
Amanpour debuts with report on "The Taliban," the Muslim rulers of Afghanistan.

(Photo: CBS)








January 1998

60 Minutes becomes the first primetime broadcast to be closed-captioned in Spanish.




July 15, 1998

60 Minutes II is announced for an early 1999 debut.




Nov. 22, 1998


60 Minutes broadcasts a video from Dr. Kevorkian, showing him lethally injecting a terminally ill man. His challenge to prosecutors led to a conviction for second degree murder.













March 2000


Ed Bradley interviews Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. It was McVeigh's only television interview.












May 2000

Finishes in Top 10 (9th place) in the Nielsen ratings for the 23rd straight season.




October 2002

Rev. Jerry Falwell calls the Prophet Mohammed a "terrorist" in a 60 Minutes report, causing a furor felt worldwide.




December 2002

Former Vice President Al Gore appears on 60 Minutes to announce he will not run for president in 2004.




March 2003

Former President Bill Clinton and former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole agree to appear in 10 "Point/Counterpoint"-like segments called "Clinton & Dole and Dole & Clinton." The last segment aired June 15, 2003.





September 2003
Don Hewitt and past and current correspondents receive Lifetime Achievement Emmy Awards.

(Photo: CBS)








May 30, 2004


Bob Simon interviews Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al Sadr just days before his Mehdi Army began an open revolt against American forces. This exclusive interview is the only interview Sadr has granted a Western news organization.














June 2004
Jeff Fager succeeds Don Hewitt as executive producer.

(Photo: CBS)








May 2005

Christiane Amanpour leaves. That same month, Lara Logan and Scott Pelley become correspondents.





May 2006
Katie Couric joins CBS News as anchor and will be a 60 Minutes correspondent. CNN's Anderson Cooper announced as a contributor.

(Photo: CBS)








November 2006

Ed Bradley dies of complications from chronic lymphocytic leukemia at age 65.




September 2007

Debuts for the 40th season, is available to be downloaded as a podcast in its entirety for the first time




Sept. 23, 2007


Scott Pelley interviews Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, shortly before his trip to address the United Nations.












October 2007


Miffed by a question about his personal life, French President Nicholas Sarkozy storms out of a Lesley Stahl interview.











January 2008

Mike Wallace, correspondent emeritus, lands first interview with Roger Clemens since the Mitchell Report steroid accusations resulting in front-page news.




Sept. 21, 2008

60 Minutes' 40th anniversary broadcast marks the program's debut in HDTV. The broadcast continues to be honored with every major journalism award, including the Emmy Award, Peabody Award, RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Award, DuPont-Columbia University Silver Baton, RFK Journalism Award, and Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.












  • CBSNews

60 Minutes App

New Look. New Season. The 60 Minutes app for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch!

More from 60 Minutes