Sunday night, POLITICO Magazine published “Why I Left 60 Minutes,” select passages from the founder of the Center for Public Integrity Charles Lewis’s book 935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America’s Moral Integrity, published last week.
Lewis chronicles his career trajectory, at 24 years old joining ABC News’ Special Reporting Unit, disbanded a year after his arrival, later with CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” and eventually founding CPI.
“When I would propose exclusive stories up the ladder, for example, I would frequently receive notes back saying, ‘I haven’t read this in the New York Times‘ as the rationale for not pursuing them,” writes Lewis of his time at ABC. “I found it sobering to realize that the news organization I worked for didn’t consider the work of finding the actual truth about a complicated situation economically efficient or even necessary.”
Lewis shares his frustration over pushback he received about a report and a name to be included in a piece on US officials and presidential campaign aides going on to lobby for foreign countries.
After its publication, sans the name of a good friend of the program’s executive producer Don Hewitt, Lewis said, “I found myself in an inhospitable environment for original investigative reporting and its occasional consequences—pushback from the powerful (which should be a badge of honor for a reporter), but also spinelessness from my employer about what we had just published.”
Soon after, Lewis quit his gig at CBS and founded the Center for Public Integrity, “a place dedicated to digging deep beneath the smarminess of Washington’s daily-access journalism into the documents few reporters seemed to be reading.”