"60 Minutes" turned its lens on one of its own Sunday night, profiling longtime professional essayist and grump Andy Rooney as he stepped down from his regular role on the program.
The profile aired just before Rooney's final essay, and it showed the man to be in classic form. Morley Safer mentioned that he gets a little hostile if people ask him for his autograph.
"What kind of an idiot wants my name?" Rooney snapped. "It's not a question of what kind of an idiot!" Safer said.
Viewers were taken through Rooney's childhood during the Great Depression, and his time during World War II (a war he said he initially opposed). Rooney talked about some of his best friends, including Walter Cronkite, and his ascent through the ranks of CBS News.
Safer told Rooney that he could sometimes get "too political." Rooney said it was "hard to conceal the fact that I'm more of a Democrat than a Republican." He also (rather half-heartedly) apologized for comments he made about homosexuality and race that got him briefly suspended from the network. (Rooney was quoted in The Advocate as saying that African Americans "have watered down their genes because the less intelligent ones are the ones that have the most children," and that homosexuality is "inherently dangerous." Though he denied making the comments about African Americans, he was suspended for three months in 1990.)
As the profile closed, Rooney again displayed his famous curmudgeonliness, saying he didn't know why he would want to answer "an idiot who has the bad sense to write me a letter."