60 Minutes Time Line
A look at important dates in the 40-year history of CBS' 60 Minutes .
By B&C Staff -- Broadcasting & Cable, 9/19/2008 9:57:00 AM
SEPT. 24, 1968
60 Minutes debuts with Mike Wallace and Harry Reasoner as principal reporters and Don Hewitt as executive producer. Reasoner would leave Dec. 1 to join ABC News.
DEC. 8, 1970
Morley Safer files his first report for the series.
SEPT. 19, 1971
The first-ever “Point-Counterpoint” segment airs, featuring Nicholas von Hoffman and James Kilpatrick each taking right- and left-leaning points in an unresolved three-minute debate that would inspire similar segments both real (Crossfire) and parody (Saturday Night Live).
JAN. 5, 1975
Shana Alexander replaces von Hoffman in the Point/Counterpoint" segment. Von Hoffman had been dismissed the previous July over inappropriate remarks about embattled President Nixon.
Dan Rather is now counted among the “Minute” men. He would continue through June 1981, when he succeeded Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News.
SEPT. 19, 1976
The broadcast begins its now-perennial stay in the Sunday 7 p.m. time slot after trying out different spots on the schedule.
60 Minutes finishes among Nielsen’s top-20 programs at season’s end for the first time.
JULY 2, 1978
The debut of “Three Minutes or So with Andy Rooney.” Two months later, it would be rechristened “A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney” and become a regular segment, alternating with Point/Counterpoint. After the last Point/Counterpoint Sept. 2, 1979, Rooney would own those last minutes.
Reasoner rejoins 60 Minutes four months after returning to CBS.
The series tops the Nielsen ratings for the first time.
OCT. 4, 1981
Ed Bradley’s first segment airs.
AUG. 22, 1984
Diane Sawyer enlists, as well. She would leave in February 1989.
NOV. 23, 1986
A controversial report about the Audi 5000 sets back Audi sales in the United States for the next 15 years.
SEPT. 20, 1987
The show begins its 20th season and marks broadcast No. 800.
60 Minutes finishes its 11th straight season in the Nielsen top 10, breaking a streak held by the network’s “Lucy” programs
SEPT. 24, 1989
A segment on occupational exposure to the AIDS virus marks Steve Kroft’s first report for the series.
JAN. 21, 1990
Meredith Vieira’s first-ever report covers the sale of exotic wild animals.
Rooney returns after a three-week suspension for “insubordination.” The suspension, originally for three months, came after remarks he reportedly made about gays to The Advocate magazine.
MARCH 16-20, 1991
Wallace has a pacemaker implanted four days after a fainting spell at Los Angeles airport. He returns to the 60 Minutes office on March 20 and prepares a report for March 24.
Lesley Stahl’s first report, on Romanian baby adoptions, is broadcast.
MAY 19, 1991
Reasoner files his last report, two weeks after Vieira does the same. (Vieira’s request to become a full-time correspondent for the show was denied, and she was reassigned to other CBS News broadcasts.)
AUG. 6, 1991
Reasoner dies at 68.
JAN. 26, 1992
Then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, appear on a post-Super Bowl 60 Minutes special to discuss their marriage and his purported affair with Gennifer Flowers -- an issue that dogged his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.
60 Minutes becomes the only television program in history to top the annual Nielsen ratings in three different decades. The show’s streak of finishing the ratings in the top 10 is now up to 15 seasons.
The show, now in its 27th year, wins its 50th Emmy Award: a “Founder’s Award” for Hewitt.
An interview with tobacco-industry whistle-blower Jeffrey Wigand is not broadcast due to a possible billion-dollar lawsuit. The story of this report would be dramatized in the film The Insider.
FEB. 4, 1996
The Wigand interview is finally broadcast.
APRIL 28, 1996
New commentators Molly Ivins, Stanley Crouch and P.J. O’Rourke debut. The commentators will only last six weeks due to negative audience reaction.
AP writer Frazier Moore writes that Rooney should retire, and Rooney asks viewers for their votes, through calls and letter to the AP. Thousands of responses pour in, the vast majority voting for Rooney, prompting Moore to write a clarification.
CBS News foreign correspondent Bob Simon becomes a contributor to the series.
NOV. 3, 1996
CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour’s first story airs.
60 Minutes becomes the first primetime broadcast to be closed-captioned in Spanish.
MARCH 15, 1998
Kathleen Willey, who’d sworn under oath that President Clinton groped her sexually, goes public with her story on 60 Minutes.
SEPT. 22, 1998
The Smithsonian Institution accepts the 60 Minutes stopwatch and Freedom Forum’s Newseum accepts the first two original scripts.
NOV. 22, 1998
60 Minutes broadcasts video shot by Dr. Jack Kevorkian showing him lethally injecting a terminally ill man. The tape leads to Kevorkian’s conviction for second-degree murder.
60 Minutes II is launched.
APRIL 1, 2001
60 Minutes broadcasts its 1,500th program.
The Rev. Jerry Falwell causes a worldwide furor after he calls the Prophet Mohammed a “terrorist” in a 60 Minutes report.
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.”
Jeff Fager succeeds Hewitt as executive producer of 60 Minutes.
Amanpour departs from 60 Minutes; 60 Minutes II is canceled.
Lara Logan delivers her first piece as a show correspondent.
Wallace announces his “retirement” but for occasional stories. CNN’s Anderson Cooper is announced as a contributor. Katie Couric joins CBS News as anchor and will be a 60 Minutes correspondent (with her first story airing Sept. 10, 2006). Rather leaves the network.
NOV. 9, 2006
Bradley dies of complications from chronic lymphocytic leukemia at age 65, one month after the airing of his final report on the Duke University rape case investigation.
DEC. 10, 2006
Cooper files his first 60 Minutes story
Wallace lands the first interview with Roger Clemens after the Mitchell Report alleged that he took steroids.
60 Minutes celebrates its 40th anniversary as a television institution.
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