Programming

60 Minutes Time Line

A look at important dates in the 40-year history of CBS' 60 Minutes . 9/18/2008 08:01:00 PM Eastern

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.

OCTOBER 1975

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.

MAY 1977

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.

DECEMBER 1978

Reasoner rejoins 60 Minutes four months after returning to CBS.

MAY 1980

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.

MAY 1988

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.

MARCH 1990

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.

APRIL 1991

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.

APRIL 1992

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.

SEPTEMBER 1995

The show, now in its 27th year, wins its 50th Emmy Award: a “Founder’s Award” for Hewitt.

NOVEMBER 1995

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.

MAY 1996

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.

JUNE 1996

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.

JANUARY 1998

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.

JANUARY 1999

60 Minutes II is launched.

APRIL 1, 2001

60 Minutes broadcasts its 1,500th program.

OCTOBER 2002

The Rev. Jerry Falwell causes a worldwide furor after he calls the Prophet Mohammed a “terrorist” in a 60 Minutes report.

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.”

JUNE 2004

Jeff Fager succeeds Hewitt as executive producer of 60 Minutes.

MAY 2005

Amanpour departs from 60 Minutes; 60 Minutes II is canceled.

NOVEMBER 2005

Lara Logan delivers her first piece as a show correspondent.

MAY 2006

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

JANUARY 2008

Wallace lands the first interview with Roger Clemens after the Mitchell Report alleged that he took steroids.

SEPTEMBER 2008

60 Minutes celebrates its 40th anniversary as a television institution.

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