Are Neckties Out?

Bare-Necked Correspondents Court Younger Viewers

The following is a weekly 60 Minutes commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney. It was first broadcast on April 24, 2005.

The television networks are all after a younger audience these days. They think younger people buy more of the stuff they advertise.

I personally don't care whether the people who watch me are young or old as long as they pay attention.

The other night, John Roberts, substituting for Bob Schieffer on the CBS Evening News, came on camera without a necktie. Two other correspondents on the same broadcast, Allen Pizzey and Wyatt Andrews, also appeared with open shirts and no ties.

I suppose that John, Allen and Wyatt wanted to look good to a younger audience that doesn't wear neckties -- and doesn't watch the Evening News either, of course.

Fashions change, though, and I guess it's true that young people think neckties are silly and old-fashioned, and it's as hard to defend neckties as it is to defend anything else having to do with fashion. You have to start by defending why we wear anything at all, except to keep ourselves warm.

Quite a few years ago, an executive put out a memo saying that women working at CBS had to wear skirts, not pants. There was almost a strike by the women, and we've come a long way since then.

We went down to the CBS lobby this week, and for 10 minutes counted the women arriving for work. During that time, 90 women came in wearing pants, and 11 came in wearing skirts; pants almost 9 to 1. I know which I thought looked best.

There are twice as many men as women working at CBS News.

All the men wear pants.

I'm ambivalent about neckties myself. I think they're silly, even though I always put one on when I'm getting dressed to come to work in the morning. Then when I get here, I take off my jacket and loosen my tie or take that off, too.

I'll be honest. I wear a necktie mostly because I've always worn a necktie, and I've always worn one because most of the other guys wear them. This isn't a good reason to wear a necktie, so maybe John Roberts is right.

But maybe he's wrong, too. There are some standards we live by that don't come naturally to us. We curb our animal desires. We say "Good morning" and "Have a nice day" to strangers. We eat with knives and forks instead of with our fingers.

For a lot of men, wearing a necktie is one of those relatively unimportant social conventions that contribute to a civilized day at the office.

I don't think there's any relationship between men's neckties and women's pants.

Written By Andy Rooney