Safer Than Most: A Tribute to Morley Safer

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Morley Safer Obituary Critical Blast

I remember once, when I was a kid no higher than a grasshoppers knee, and I was taught a simple lesson. Our television, in its black and white glory, loudly played an interview between a seemingly elderly man and some subject who’s name and face were completely forgotten by a small child. As I sat on the floor at the foot of my father’s easy chair, I heard words that my tiny, inexperienced ears knew should be paid attention. “Now there’s a guy I could trust”, I heard.

Those words weren’t expressed often, so when I heard them on that fateful day, I knew that the oracle-esque man on the screen was someone that I should be paying attention to as well. And I did. By now, I’m sure that we’ve all read the canned obituaries that reminded us that Morley Safer was the first journalist to shed a negative light on the Vietnam War. And of course we know that Morley enraged the contemporary art world with his piece on what exactly defines art. But to me, personally, Morley Safer was so much more than just a journalist. He was an explorer of the human condition of the finest ilk. Over 6 decades of broadcasting excellence, and numerous awards do not even begin to do his career justice. Mr. Safer influenced a generation of journalists who began to report the darker underbelly of war reporting, rather than the puff piece, feel good approach that other journalists of the day had been using.

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As the only western correspondent in East Berlin when the Communists began to build the wall, and as the reporter on the first ever broadcast by a U.S. network from China, Morley showed us again and again a perspective that we would never have gotten otherwise. In 2011, when Morley gave Ruth Madoff a look of disbelief, so did 18.5 million viewers. Not because we were so sure that she was lying, but we damn sure believed Morley, because he was a man we had trusted over the last six decades.

Rest in peace, Mr. Safer. Your rest is well and truly earned.