I've been asked by CBS to say something here tonight about Mike. What occurs to me to say about Mike is probably nothing CBS wants to hear: 60 Minutes will not be the same in the future as it has been in the past and it won't be as good because Mike won't be on it.
It's difficult to put your finger on what it is about someone that makes them good to watch on television but whatever it is, Mike had it like few people ever have.
What he did best was ask questions. He was a genius at getting people to reveal themselves on camera to all of us. He didn't go down a list of questions he had written in advance. He asked a question, got an answer and then came up with another question often based on that answer.
The 60 Minutes office over the years has been a lot of fun to be in.
In the early days of 60 Minutes I wrote and produced pieces for Harry Reasoner. Mike and Harry were great friends but merciless with each other off camera. One day there was an item in a gossip column about Harry dating the beautiful Angie Dickenson.
Harry often had a couple of martinis for lunch and he'd come back to the office and take a nap. The day the item appeared; Harry had his martinis, took his nap and later in the day came out of his office. Mike was standing there.
Harry's hair was all over his head, his clothes were rumpled and his shirttail was hanging out.
At that moment a not very bright messenger came in. Mike beckoned to the messenger and pointing to Harry asked the messenger if he knew the man standing there in front of him - Harry.
The messenger stared at Harry a minute, shook his head no. Didn't know him.
"Well, let me ask you this then, Sir," Mike said to the messenger, "Do you know Angie Dickenson?" The messenger lit up, smiled and nodded enthusiastically.
"Okay" Mike said, pointing at the disheveled Reasoner, "Does this man look like anyone Angie Dickenson couldn't keep her hands off?"
Well it's a funny story but I don't feel funny tonight. Having Mike leave 60 Minutes is more like a death in the family.
Now I just hope that CBS will do the right thing and take the money they've been paying Mike and split it up among the rest of us.
By Andy Rooney