A lot of folks may not instantly recognize Don Hewitt’s name, but he’s had a big influence on our times and American politics for more than four decades.
Hewitt is the originator and longtime producer of “60 Minutes,” the most successful TV news magazine program ever.
Less known is the fact that Hewitt is the man who produced the first televised presidential debate between then-candidates John Kennedy and Richard Nixon.
Nixon’s campaign later claimed that Hewitt had cleverly switched the cameras to Nixon every time he frowned or wiped his sweaty brow. Nixon looked nervous and Kennedy looked the statesman, thanks to Don Hewitt.
Hewitt is also the guy who helped rescue Bill Clinton’s candidacy.
When Gennifer Flowers’ bombshell revelations were set to derail Clinton’s presidential bid in 1992, the Clintons went to Hewitt and “60 Minutes.”
Hewitt edited the segment brilliantly. Clinton was the repentant husband, Hillary the hurt wife. The “60 Minutes” segment was credited with saving the Clinton candidacy.
Hewitt later bragged in an on-air interview that he got Bill Clinton elected, but he expressed anger at Mrs. Clinton. She did not think the “60 Minutes” program had portrayed her well, and Hewitt was not invited to White House dinners.
In a recent interview with Jon Friedman of CBS’s MarketWatch.com, the soon-to-be-retired Hewitt revealed a few things about himself and the political leanings of his decades-long program.
Emphasizing his supposed objectivity, Hewitt told Friedman that he is “not in anybody's pocket” and he claimed to be nonpartisan. “I don’t vote parties,” he alleged.
“I’m an Eisenhower-Reagan Republican and a Roosevelt-Kennedy Democrat,” Hewitt claimed.
Without catching his breath, Hewitt then said, “I would bet I’ll probably vote for Kerry,” and he tacked on the phrase “but I don't know that yet.”
Of course we know who Don Hewitt will vote for.
While Hewitt pretends he might not toss his vote Kerry’s way, he seems quite adamant when it comes to Dubya.
“I know why I don’t want to vote for George Bush,” he declared.
“If I should hold anything against George Bush,” it’s that the war in Iraq has “created more terrorists,” Hewitt contended.
Created more terrorists? That must have been a surprise to Moammar Gadhafi.
As for the “objectivity” of “60 Minutes,” Hewitt also conveniently forgot to mention on his program featuring former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill that O’Neill’s book was published by Viacom, the parent company of CBS.
Coincidently, Hewitt also promoted another Bush critic recently, former terror adviser Richard Clarke.
No matter that both segments looked as if they were produced by the DNC.
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