Monday, November 10, 2008

60 Minutes: 30 Minutes Of It

One of these days I am actually going to watch all 6o minutes of the CBS show “60 Minutes.”

The reason I never watch the full 60 minutes of the show is because it almost always gets time shifted because of football game run-overs. And, by the time they finish introducing everyone (it seems like that drags on forever) it seems that whatever I want to watch at 8:00 PM is starting.
I did manage to catch two of the segments in last night’s show. The first segment covered a discussion Steve Kroft had with the Obama campaign “inner circle” that ran the campaign. It was interesting to meet the people behind those emails that I received during their campaign. And I did get a lot of emails from them. I'm not complaining, mind you, I found the emails very informative. Still, it was an average interview, nothing stellar.

The second segment was an eye-opener where Scott Pelley took viewers to a location they billed as “one of the most toxic places on Earth - a place government officials and gangsters don't want you to see. It's a town in China where you can't breathe the air or drink the water, a town where the blood of the children is laced with lead. “ In fact, at one point during the segment, Pelley seemed to be gagging on the acrid air.

This segment shows the strength of “60 Minutes” where they go to places and cover stories that some people would rather keep hidden. The story showed how the good intentions of Americans to recycle computer components and other “e-waste” goes awry when the parts are processed outside the US by people who have little regard for the effects that the toxic by-products can have on people and the overall environment. During this segment, the people conducting the investigation and filming are under clear pressure by local government and gangs who want their dirty little secret kept secret. In this case, “60 Minutes” did its job by reporting the facts in the case, and hopefully making viewers think about who may be suffering as a result of the waste we generate.

I didn’t watch the third segment, which was about Ted Turner for a few reasons. First, I can’t stand Ted Turner. Second, after watching the depressing segment about toxic “e- waste” I needed to laugh so I turned on The Simpsons. And frankly, even on the days where I may be available to watch the end of the show, I am usually half annoyed and half repulsed at Andy Rooney. The annoyed part comes from the fact that he’s always, well, annoyed himself. The repulsed part comes from those eyebrows, which are in serious need of a pruning.

The bottom line is that the show delivers only some of the time. I recall watching the show years ago in the 1970s and it was always out for the controversial story, or a hard-hitting expose. There seemed to be real investigative reporting going on. Now, we don’t get those kinds of stories as much. Maybe there are more concerns over lawsuits, maybe people have just gotten wise to the show and don’t feel the desire or the need to talk to a "60 Minutes" interviewer. After all, the show has been on for 40 years, so it’s bound to lose its edge after a while. Still, the segment from Scott Pelley gave me hope that somewhere the old "60 Minutes" is still out there, waiting to uncover some wrong that needs to be righted.

So even though I don’t watch “60 Minutes” for the full 60 minutes, I think the show still has value and provides some interesting commentary on those things that we sometimes don’t know about or think about. Well, except maybe for that Ted Turner story, he’s someone I’d just rather not think about at all.

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