60 minutes creator Don Hewitt dead at 86

CBS News executive Don Hewitt, the creator of 60 minutes and regarded by many to be the father of “magazine” television has died at the age of 86 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Over Hewitt’s long career he could boast of many firsts. In 1960, Don Hewitt produced and directed the first televised Presidential debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon, a debate watched by a staggering (even today) 70 million people.

60 Minutes made its debut in 1968, and changed the way television news was considered. Before that time, news was seen as a public service that wasn’t profitable. After 60 Minutes, news as entertainment came to the fore. You could say that Hewitt was the man responsible for the trash that passes as news today, but that would be unfair as well, because the man had a strict sense of editorial independence, and fought the networks to make sure the shows he worked on remained neutral.

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Don Hewitt is survived by his wife, four children, and three grandchildren.