Memories of Don Hewitt

Posted by Administrator on August 21, 2009 | (22) Comments

Don Hewitt, creator and first producer of “ 60 Minutes” died. His obit can be read in full in The New York Times and many other publcations.

In 1996 Barricade Books published “The Turner Diaries” a vile, racist, novel that the FBI said was the blueprint for the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh. We took a lot of heat for it and were denounced for putting this dreadful book into bookshops. Previously, it was only available via mail order and the author was” looking for a wider audience. As a fighter of censorship all his adult life and defender of the First Amendment, Lyle agreed to publish only if he could add an introduction to the trade edition. It condemned the book calling it bigoted but made it available to alert and warn America of the deep racism still rampant in the USA.

“60 Minutes” invited Lyle on the show to talk about the book.  Mike Wallace was smooth and friendly as they taped Lyle. I watched off camera with our little toy poodle in my lap. When the program aired, it surprised us to see William Pierce, the author and publisher of the original book taken apart by Wallace.  Lyle was merely a device that led them to Pierce.  Most of his interview had been edited out.  He was angry but when I suggested he write to the show he wisely commented, “You can never beat a reporter on his own turf.”

Years later Lyle and I were winding up a trip to Indonesia and were at the airport in Bali. Lyle heard a loud voice from across the departure area, “There’s Lyle Stuart!”  It was Don Hewitt and his wife, Marilyn Berger, on their way to Singapore for a few days before going on to set up an Australian version of “60 Minutes.”  Marilyn was then working for Long Island’s Newsday and was one of the 24 reporters who wrote a chapter for our best selling Naked Came the Stranger.  She later joined the New York Times.

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