Connecting Morley Safer to a Bygone CBS Colleague

How the 60 Minutes correspondent came to write the foreword for the biography of William L. Shirer.

AComplexFateCoverIn the foreword of Ken Cuthbertson’s biography of one-time Chicago Tribune and CBS Radio star William L. Shirer, Morley Safer writes: ‘This book has an almost Shakespearian quality: larger-than-life characters, broken friendships, pride and regret, all set against a background of war and depredation.’

Safer is right. After a stellar journalism career, Shirer found himself after World War II blacklisted during the McCarthy era, at which point he wrote a massive bestseller about the Nazi regime. Today, in The Kingston Whig-Standard, a longtime pal of Cuthbertson’s, Patrick Kennedy, details how Safer came to be a part of the May 2015 book:

Cuthbertson approached Safer knowing the two were kindred spirits to some degree: Both are Canadian (Toronto-born Safer holds dual citizenship), both had taken journalism at University of Western (Safer for just a few months), both had worked on newspapers (Safer kick-starting his career on the Woodstock Sentinel).

“He’s a throwback to the old days of foreign correspondents with fedoras and overcoats,” Cuthbertson said of Safer.

The author was able to interview his subject mid-1980s, prior to Shirer’s passing in 1993.

And speaking of Canadian media connections, Cuthbertson and article author Kennedy as teens played hockey and other sports together. Their neighborhood group was known as the Imperial Oil Kings and their exploits documented in a handwritten newspaper put together by Cuthbertson called The Daily Crap.

Jacket cover courtesy: McGill Queen’s University Press