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tv   60 Minutes  CBS  September 8, 2019 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT

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captioning funded by cbs and ford. we go further, so you can. >> i'm steve kroft. >> i'm steve kroft. >> i'm steve kroft. >> i'm steve kroft. >> you look like that guy that does that "60 minutes" thing on tv... >> steve kroft? >> yeah! >> of all the problems that... >> steve kroft won't be opening "60 minutes" this season. but tonight, we are going to look back-- >> it's so insane. >> --at 30 years of kroft's most memorable stories... >> what did you plead guilty to? >> racketeering. >> very invasive! >> congressman? congressman! >> ...the investigations... >> do you mind if i ask you a couple of questions? >> ...the obama interviews. >> what else you got? >> can you hear me now? >> his love for an outrageous character. >> it's not exactly legal, no. ( laughs ) >> and his elegant writing, that
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could always unpack the most difficult story. >> my favorite stories are government stories, where you say "you're not going to believe this is going on. it's been going on for a long time, and nothing has ever been done about it." >> ready! >> is everybody rolling? >> set! >> we have speed? >> go! >> on the eve of our 52nd season, "60 minutes" salutes one of the best to ever tell a story on sunday night, steve kroft. >> the good news is, we're not cops. >> well, i didn't think so. ( laughs ) >> the bad news is, is we're "60 minutes." ( ticking ) i can. the two words whispered at the start of every race. every new job. and attempt to parallel park.
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(announcer) if eligible, you may pay as little as $25 per prescription. ask your health care provider today about once-weekly ozempic®. >> stahl: "60 minutes" opens its 52nd season later this month, and for the first time in 30 years, it'll be without steve kroft. without his eye for the outrageous, without his willingness to unpack the complicated stories most reporters would tell you are impossible to tell on television. most of all, without his elegant, spare writing that
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serves the story without ever calling attention to itself. as kroft-- and everyone here just calls him "kroft"-- says, "it's always about the story." >> kroft: what's the headline here? you ever seen anything like this before? everybody in town is talking about it, why? why? why didn't anybody anticipate that? so you had two wives. really? was it dangerous? were you angry? did you enjoy this? what's going on? >> stahl: we had some questions of our own when we talked with the 74-year-old newly-retired correspondent at his waterfront home on long island's peconic bay. "60 minutes." >> kroft: mm-hmm. >> stahl: people do not walk away from this, steve. and there's a lot of people want to know why. i want to know. i tried to talk you out of it. >> kroft: right. >> stahl: i'm surprised. how can you walk away from this? >> kroft: i've always felt like, i had great amount of respect for people who-- who've left their professions when they were on top.
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and, i felt that-- that this was the time for me to-- to go. that there were other things that i wanted to do, that i still had the energy to do it, and i still had the interest in doing it. >> stahl: 30 years ago, when kroft joined "60 minutes," giants roamed the halls. >> hold it a minute, god dammit! >> stahl: mike wallace and morley safer. ed bradley and harry reasoner. >> kroft: the best that can be expected is... >> stahl: kroft was a veteran of the cbs london bureau and the newsmagazine "west 57th," but "60 minutes" was a whole new league. was the red carpet out for you? did you have a tough time in the beginning? >> kroft: well, i think everybody who comes to that show as a correspondent has a tough time at the beginning. it's very intimidating, and-- >> stahl: but didn't you once say that there-- that there was a hazing period for you? >> kroft: it was more a period where i was like a junior partner in a law firm. >> stahl: ah, there you go. >> kroft: that's the way it felt.
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you know, if you were fighting over a story, there wasn't any question-- >> stahl: forget it, yeah. >> kroft: who was going to get it. i was not going to get it. >> stahl: right. that's kind of hazing. we go-- we all go through that. >> kroft: yeah, yeah. it wasn't like a level playing field. >> hold it, hold it. >> kroft: there was seniority involved. and the place was very competitive, you know, and i never quite felt like i made it. in part, because in some ways, if i did really a good story, it just created more antagonism, particularly for mike. ( laughs ) >> ah, come on! keep going! >> stahl: yeah, he would be jealous. >> kroft: he would be jealous. >> what the dickens are you insecure about? i really don't understand. >> kroft: and then he'd try to steal the producer. ( laughs ) >> stahl: the producer! but what about-- didn't dan rather sort of give you a warning? >> kroft: he said "it's like a jungle, and there's a lot of big cats over there. and they can just, with one swipe of the hand, you'll be limping for, like, a year." ( laughs ) >> stahl: welcome to "60 minutes." >> kroft: welcome to "60 minutes." and he was pretty much right. ( laughs ) he was pretty much right. >> stahl: very early on, you were doing stories that are
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iconic stories for "60 minutes," that people want to see again and again. >> kroft: right. >> stahl: like chernobyl. wasn't that your very first season? >> kroft: yes. >> stahl: and you just walked into radioactive city. ( laughs ) i remember watching that and thinking, "is that guy crazy?" ( russian music ) >> kroft: the only sign of life is the music, piped in continuously to keep the decontamination crews that have to be here from going crazy. it's hard to imagine a nuclear accident worse than this one, right? it's hard to imagine. in some hot spots, we found radiation levels 100 times normal. >> stahl: were you ever nervous about that, or... ? >> kroft: i wasn't nervous, because we had done a lot of research. >> stahl: people don't appreciate how much research goes into our stories. >> kroft: oh, yeah. >> stahl: not just on whether we're going to be in danger or not, but-- >> kroft: that's what makes them so good. you're sure of the mileage? >> stahl: before he was a familiar face on sunday night, kroft went undercover in houston to explore the classic scam of
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rolling back the odometers on used cars. >> aww, we'll make a deal. >> stahl: he met bill whitlow, who was a master of the art. >> kroft: he was a crazy texas character. and everybody in the used car business brought them to bill, and bill would roll back the odometers. this is not exactly legal, right? >> it's not exactly legal, no. ( laughs ) >> kroft: he laid out his whole scam for us. i want to show you one thing. >> all right. >> kroft: and when it was all over, i thought we needed to give him a heads up. >> kroft: see that picture? there's a tv camera back there. >> yeah. >> kroft: we've been taping this whole thing. >> well, all right. >> stahl: and then, one of the great lines-- "there's the good news and the bad news." >> kroft: right. ( laughter ) the good news is, we're not cops. >> well, i didn't think so. ( laughs ) >> kroft: the bad news is, is we're "60 minutes." >> stahl: a few years later, a "60 minutes" team talked with bill whitlow in federal prison. he was no longer unperturbed. >> i think you can scrape the bottom of hell with a fine tooth
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comb and never come up with a man like steve kroft. >> stahl: kroft keeps a needlepoint pillow with whitlow's words on his couch. as a badge of honor! >> kroft: as a badge of honor. >> my occupation has been crook most of my life. >> stahl: you know, you've interviewed a lot of grifters and scammers. >> kroft: con men, yeah. >> stahl: yeah, con men. >> kroft: you made your living ripping off little old ladies? >> little old ladies and men, both, i wasn't sexist that way. >> kroft: how much money did you steal from medicare? >> about $20 million. >> kroft: $20 million? >> yes. >> kroft: was it easy? >> real easy. >> stahl: what category of person do you most like to talk about, interview, write about? >> kroft: one of my favorite interviews was john martarano, who was a hitman for whitey bulger, who killed something like 26 people. a lot of people would say you're a serial killer. >> i might be a vigilante, but not a serial killer. >> stahl: why was that your favorite? k really interesting, and he came to play. >> these are the rooms you don't want to go in.
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>> kroft: you could engage with him and he would talk to you. >> that's the trap door for the cellar. >> kroft: anybody go down there and never come up? >> i think so, yeah. >> kroft: he was very honest about how he got in the business and he just kind of considered it a job. >> okay, everybody settle. we have tape rolling. steve, whenever you're settled. >> kroft: okay. >> stahl: kroft's best-known interview, and perhaps most historically important, came on super bowl sunday, 1992, when the then-governor of arkansas, bill clinton, and his wife hillary, tried to save his presidential campaign from a tabloid sex scandal. >> kroft: governor, who is gennifer flowers? >> well, i... >> stahl: they wanted to go somewhere that had a good reputation and answer the questions. >> kroft: right, one time. they wanted to answer the questions once. >> stahl: one time. >> kroft: so there was a lot of pressure to keep asking the questions. i want to go back and ask you the question again. who is gennifer flowers? >> i met her... >> kroft: and they wanted hillary to be part of it. >> stahl: well, she came on to defend him. >> kroft: she did. >> you know, i'm not sitting here as some little woman
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standing by my man, like tammy wynette. i'm sitting here because i love him. >> stahl: it is said that this interview saved his presidential campaign. but it also almost killed them. >> kroft: oh, right, with the light falling down? >> stahl: yeah. can you walk us through what you're seeing? >> kroft: a wall-mounted lamp, a high-powered-- a television lamp, like-- >> stahl: one of these things? >> kroft: right. it just sprung off the wall. >> jesus, mary and joseph! wooo-wooo-woo. >> kroft: it sounded like an explosion. i didn't know what had happened. >> stahl: well, she jumped. and it really did come close to her. do you remember what she said? >> kroft: "jesus, mary and joseph." >> jesus, mary and joseph! wooo-wooo-woo. >> stahl: not what i would have said. >> kroft: not what i would have said, either. ( laughs ) >> stahl: so you've covered politicians, celebrities, athletes, eccentrics. >> kroft: con men, mobsters. >> stahl: were you ever scared? >> kroft: no. because, first of all, you're in a room, like we are right now, where you have lots of people here. >> stahl: protection. >> kroft: because you-- >> stahl: you have--
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( laughs ) your producers protecting you. >> kroft: right. so i was never really worried that i was going to come under any physical threats. ( explosion ) but i was nervous the whole time i was in beirut. and i spent a lot of time in beirut. but instead of protecting him-- i was nervous the whole time i was in zimbabwe where we had done a really tough interview with robert mugabe. would you be happy to see all the white people leave zimbabwe? >> no. i've said so out of anger. >> kroft: and then we were followed by the secret police. and there was a group of marauders that came over, and i was pretty nervous. >> stahl: yeah. the craziness of-- >> kroft: the craziness. >> stahl: --all of this. >> kroft: it was fun. you know, it was a huge adrenaline rush. as churchill said, "the most exhilarating moment in life is to be shot at without result," and it's true. ( laughs ) >> hey! >> stahl: kroft insists that covering politics is never exhilarating for him. >> you guys are too fired up! >> stahl: so it's ironic that his most frequent interviewee was a politician. >> kroft: you think the country is ready for a black president? >> yes.
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>> stahl: for ten years, beginning in 2007, from the campaign trail to the oval office... >> steve! >> stahl: ...he covered barack obama. >> good to see you, sir. >> stahl: i think you interviewed him 16 times. >> kroft: uh-huh. it's a lot. >> stahl: did you have a relationship? >> kroft: the only thing we had was a reporter-subject relationship. have there been moments when you said, "what did i get myself into?" >> ( laughs ) >> kroft: i think he knew that we were not going to burn him, that we were going to ask tough questions. >> kroft: afghanistan? the health care bill. the unemployment problem. >> this is a tough business. i just want to say that... >> kroft: but we were going to let him answer them. >> stahl: and you ran them. >> kroft: well, we edited them down, but we were really careful to be able to distill what he was saying. and i think he appreciated that, and was comfortable with it. >> what else you got? ( laughter ) >> kroft: everybody would come up to me in the white house and ul "ththe on time, in thentervis, when you see the guy we see every day." and in all the interviews we did with him, i never once saw him lean on an aide or ask for a
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clarification or, "am i saying this right?" or anything. because he understood the issues. i don't think i've ever interviewed a politician quite like that. you interview lots of people in congress-- some of them can't answer anything without four aides in the room, you know, stopping them saying, "well, that's not exactly right," and, you know. >> stahl: did you ever feel that you should have pushed harder? >> kroft: i don't think it was a matter of pushing hard. i think that that criticism came from the fact that i didn't get angry with him. and at the time that i came up and started doing interviews with the president, there was a long track record of how people did interviews with the president. >> stahl: you showed the office respect. >> kroft: yes, you showed the office respect. >> steve, asked and answered. let's move on. >> kroft: okay. >> stahl: old-school standards come naturally to him. you grew up in kokomo, indiana. >> kroft: kokomo, indiana. >> stahl: what do you think you brought from kokomo that perhaps makes your sensibility different from your east/west coast colleagues? >> kroft: well, i think that, i still think of the midwest as being the heartland of the country. different values.
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very religious, for the most part. or, more religious than-- >> stahl: east/west coast. >> kroft: --than the east/west coast. and a lot of the people that i know in new york who have been very successful came from the midwest. and i thought, you know, they send kids off to fight wars. >> stahl: including kroft. he graduated from syracuse university, with an eye on madison avenue. >> kroft: then i got drafted, and then i ended up in vietnam. and i decided i didn't want to be in advertising anymore. i wanted to be in journalism. >> stahl: because when you were in the service, you were writing for "stars and stripes?" >> kroft: i was a correspondent photographer for "stars and stripes," which was the highest journalism job in the army, and a great job. >> stahl: and you got to meet a lot of the network correspondents then. >> kroft: yeah, i knew immediately that that's what i wanted to do. that's when i wanted to be, a foreign correspondent. >> stahl: when we come back, a look at some of the superstars, odd balls and politically powerful kroft met over 30 years
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at "60 minutes," and a look at his talent to unsnarl the most tangled financial stories of the great recession. ( ticking ) >> cbs money watch sponsored by capital one. what's in your wall ?et. >> quijano: good evening, stocks could reclaim their all-time highs this week after the fed talked up the economy friday. investors get a read on inflation and august retail sales. and apple wednesday is expected to show off its newest iphone 11, three of them. i'll elaine quijano, cbs news. the noble tortilla was created
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ask your doctor about entresto, for heart failure. where to next? entrust your heart to entresto. >> stahl: one striking part of steve kroft's 30 years of
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"60 minutes" was his range. he set out to be a foreign correspondent, but overseas reporting accounted for only a fraction of his 500 stories. there was almost no category he couldn't-- or wouldn't-- handle. he dug into medicine and sports; finance and entertainment; authors and autocrats. if the story was good, he was up for telling it. >> go! >> stahl: sometimes, way, way up. other times, way, way down. or he'd venture into a mine field. >> i've got this adrenaline that's going through me, and i am thinking to myself, is it this time? >> kroft: i hope it's not this time. >> no- well, no-- >> go ahead and throw your punch. >> stahl: kroft searched out eccentrics. >> kroft: oh, i would love to comment on some of that. oh, it's unbelievable. >> stahl: and spoke with the most chilling... >> kroft: do you consider yourself a serial killer?
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>> stahl: ...and the most quirky. >> the silence is so wonderful. >> stahl: ...among them, america's last lord of the manor. >> kroft: can you hear me now? >> i was in politics, so i can bellow. >> stahl: and the leather-clad first citizen of interior design. >> would you think you're talking to a bright architect, looking at a guy like me? >> stahl: kroft took a look into the life of spy-turned- spy novelist john lecarre. >> each book feels like my last book and then i think, like a dedicated alcoholic, that one more won't do me any harm. ( buzzer ) >> stahl: and explained the financial weapons of mass destruction behind the great recession. you took on the task of explaining really complicated economic swaps and secularizations and-- ( laughs ) >> kroft: securitization, derivatives. >> stahl: that-- that! >> kroft: savvy investors figured out that the cheapest, most effective way to bet against the entire housing market was to buy credit
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defaults swaps. in effect, taking out inexpensive insurance policies that would pay off big when other people's mortgage investments went south. >> stahl: i-- no one else would have even thought of writing those stories that you wrote. and you then were able just to make it so understandable. >> kroft: i'm not an expert on that kind of stuff. so it had to be put into language that i understood, that i thought i could explain. >> stahl: have you done a lot of stories, that, that ended up with changed legislation or changed rules, or changed the world? >> kroft: there was a story called "the insiders." it was a story about insider trading in congress, and the fact that there were no laws against it. so congressmen get a pass on insider trading? >> they do. if you are a member of congress, and you sit on the defense committee, you are free to trade defense stock as much as you want to. if you're on the senate banking committee, you can trade bank stock as much as you want, and that regularly goes on.
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>> stahl: kroft reported how middle class politicians became millionaires, profiting from inside information they learned on capitol hill, while a reform bill, called the "stock act," languished in obscurity. >> congressman, congressman? >> kroft: we stood outside the capitol and talked to congressmen who were coming up. "you know anything about the stock act? "nah, i don't think so." >> you ever heard of the stock act? >> the what? >> stock act. know anything about it? >> no. >> the stock act? >> kroft: after the story ran, the bill was passed. >> stahl: mm-hmm. but when you're working on stories like that, aren't you in a rage, just furious, the injustice, the unfairness? >> kroft: some of the times-- >> stahl: the sliminess? >> kroft: a lot of the times, my reaction is, like, i can't believe-- i can't believe this is going on. i can't believe that nobody has discovered it, nobody has tried to put a stop to it. you know, i love stories that have a bit of absurdity to it. and my favorite stories are
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government stories where you say, "you're not going to believe this is going on. it's been going on for a long time, and nothing has ever been done about it." >> stahl: one of the stories you did that had a huge emotional impact was bob dole. >> kroft: mm-hmm. >> stahl: in 1993, bob dole was the senate minority leader and preparing a presidential run against bill clinton. when he was telling you about what happened to him in the war... >> kroft: did you realize how badly you were wounded? >> no, i didn't have any idea. i just knew i couldn't get up. >> stahl: did he break down? >> kroft: he did. >> i remember my dad coming up one christmas, he had to stand all the way on the train. the trains are so crowded. he got up there, his ankles were swollen. ( crying ) >> kroft: i think we stopped the cameras. i think also it's self-assuring. if you see somebody that loses control, you say, "let's just stop the cameras." and let them-- >> stahl: collect themselves.
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>> kroft: collect themselves. and the-- you need to be judicious at it. too many times on television, it's just cheap-- you know, it's just cheap emotion. jailhouse lawyers are prisoners who... >> stahl: kroft took particular care with the in-studio introductions to his stories. his writing could be light and irreverent... >> kroft: racially, he is half black, half white, and in terms of political experience, green. >> stahl: ...or transform the potentially morbid into amusing. >> kroft: dead celebrities can be just as lucrative as many live ones, and in some cases, a lot less trouble. >> stahl: he labored over every line of every script, and then would rewrite his rewrites. well into his 60s and 70s, kroft was pulling all-nighters like a college sophomore, trying to make sure his term papers were always an "a." >> kroft: it's not an easy process. people think if you're a good writer, you just sit down and do it. it takes a lot of work. and all-- it takes a lot of time
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to do it. and-- to make it good-- >> stahl: well, i heard that they would-- that the boss would approve your story, done, wrapped, finished, and you'd get a whole new idea and start rewriting all over again, after it had been approved. >> kroft: i think mostly it was kind of like, this is pretty good, you know. and i'd say, "well, i'd like to run it through the typewriter one more time," and they'd say, "all right." >> stahl: yeah, in the middle of the night. >> kroft: in the middle of the night. ( laughs ) >> stahl: come on. fess up. ( laughs ) >> kroft: it's not exactly, i mean, you're-- i'm not disagreeing with the spirit of what you're saying. okay. >> stahl: because you're notorious for working very late at night. >> kroft: very late. so, normally at noon is about when i would get-- ( laughs ) >> stahl: start. >> kroft: --started. i would get in the mood to write, and then-- you know, hopefully was out of there by-- i sometimes, we stayed till, you know, like, 4:00 for a screening the next day. >> stahl: 4:00 a.m.? >> kroft: yeah. ( laughs ) >> stahl: but it was hard for you, am i right? >> kroft: yeah. >> stahl: i mean, that-- >> kroft: well, eventually you-- eventually you come up with a hard deadline. ( laughs )
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>> stahl: yeah, like, 7:00 p.m. on sunday. >> kroft: that's it. usually before that. >> stahl: what about people you interviewed who completely surprised you? you thought they were going to be one thing, but they turned out to be completely different. >> kroft: the one that immediately comes to mind was clint eastwood. >> i'm crazy. >> kroft: i did not think i was going to like him based off of the kind of movies that he had made. >> stahl: he was a tough interview. >> kroft: he was sort of a tough interview, but the person was completely different >> okay, accione. >> stahl: didn't he just stare you down or you stared him down? >> kroft: yeah, but that question was kind of like when we said we have to talk about all the wives and all this stuff and i thought okay, so i tried to, like, frame the question in a way that it was likely not to get him really angry. seven kids with five women, not all of them you were married to. >> no. >> kroft: he just reacted by just staring at me in silence. i don't think i've had anybody look at me like that before. it's a real clint eastwood look.
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some of the most effective television, you know, everybody feels like everything has to be, like, no silence, you know? like five seconds on television of silence is just like an eternity. how good is that? it's great. >> stahl: kroft had a way with celebrities and the famous, when he chose to do them. >> what is the question? >> stahl: which wasn't often. >> kroft: what is the most difficult part of your job? besides dealing with people like me? ( laughs ) ♪ how long, how long >> kroft: one of my favorite stories was the eagles. you know, they were together, they broke up, they had a singles career, they got back together, they broke up again, and glenn frey and don henley clearly did not like each other very much. >> we're in business together. >> kroft: i think it was frey that was talking and henley was just like, rolling his eyes. >> stahl: and you got the shot-- ( laughs ) >> kroft: like it was so much b.s. ( laughs ) it's the one thing everybody remembered from the piece. ( laughs ) >> that's just silliness. >> kroft: some people open up and let you see and do anything you want. >> stahl: supreme court justice
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clarence thomas fit that category. >> this is what we spent our time doing, this, still got it. ( laughter ) >> kroft: do you, um... ? he's had a stroke, can we stop? oh, sorry, i was ready to jump in with the paddles. >> kroft: those are really the ones that are the most fun, because you get to see them over in different settings. samuel l. jackson was like that. >> you got like eight pages of stuff. >> kroft: i know, man. >> i am not that interesting. >>roft: dustin hoffman was like that. this is stardom, this is what stardom gets you, this is pretty good. >> yes. >> kroft: tom hanks was pretty much up for anything. are you nervous now? >> very nervous, because you're here. >> kroft: i can remember doing a profile on jerry seinfeld. >> stahl: it was hilarious. >> kroft: it was hilarious because he was hilarious. >> steve-- ( laughter ) >> kroft: he liked being interviewed, he loved the idea of being on "60 minutes" because his mother was a big fan, and there wasn't anything you couldn't ask him. >> stahl: but there was one moment where you did ask him what could've been an embarrassing question.
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>> kroft: you think you're immature? >> oh, yeah. >> kroft: sexually? >> yeah. >> kroft: why? >> i am not going to talk about being sexually immature on "60 minutes." >> kroft: but you think you are. >> it's not "60 swinging minutes." >> kroft: right, right. >> can we get some powder on my face? i'm sweating! god. >> kroft: and then you get people. >> stahl: this is off limits, this is off limits. >> kroft: right. the most extreme example of that was beyonce. >> it depends on where we are. ( laughs ) >> kroft: she controlled everything. ( laughs ) we had a couple of brief moments with her, and a short interview, and a couple of walk-throughs and that was it. >> they're probably going to show this on "60 minutes," so can everybody "tick-tick-tick?" >> stahl: you know, when you told me you were going to leave, i thought, of all the important things you had done for the show, and those stories that you wrote about the collaterization and all of that, you gave the
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show a dimension, an important dimension that we hadn't had before. um... we're really going to miss you. >> kroft: well, i'm going to miss you too, lesley. but i'm not going to be a complete stranger. i'm going to be, you know, i'll, i'm-- i'm sure i'll see you. >> stahl: but i'm saying something-- not about personal. i mean, it's about your contribution over your 30 years to the show, that was huge. you gave us depth. you-- you brought "60 minutes" to places that no other television journalism could ever have gone, without you. and i think we still need it. and a lot of us are very unhappy that you're leaving. and we don't think that 74 is old. ( laughs ) some of us, anyway. >> kroft: look, i thank you. it means a lot to me to hear you say that. and, the-- "60 minutes" will be fine, just fine. ( ticking )
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( ticking ) >> "60 minutes" continues in a moment, and we're always online at www.60minutesovertime.com. ♪ find the brands you love from nordstrom. up to 70% off at nordstrom rack. ♪
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that's fashion at a fraction. ♪ shop anytime at nordstromrack.com and get easy returns in store. nordstrom rack. what will you find? >> stahl: we asked steve kroft to pick out a favorite story we could show in full tonight. he picked his 2017 visit to the isle of eigg. it's not only a beautifully written and visually stunning story, but, appropriately, it's all about slowing down and appreciating the life well-lived.
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>> kroft: every now and then, just for the fun of it, we decide to go off to some obscure place that you've never heard of and are not likely to visit. tonight, we're taking you to eigg, or the "people's republic of eigg," as it's jokingly referred to in scotland, a country where half the privately-held land is owned by fewer than 500 people. a lot of it is tied up in huge estates owned by lairds, who often run them as fiefdoms. 20 years ago, after two centuries of servility, the people of eigg drove away their laird and seized control of their own destiny, establishing the first community-owned estate in scotland's history. we wanted to see what they've made of it. just three miles wide, six miles long and ten miles off the scottish coast, eigg is part of the inner hebrides, surrounded by the isles of rum, muck and skye at the edge of the north atlantic. it is an ungroomed masterpiece of nature, too wild to tame.
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a craggy isle of incredible beauty populated mostly by sheep, and the dogs that keep track of them. the people do their best to stay clear, while taking everything in. so what's your average day like? >> charlie galli: some people would say, very lazy. i like to think i just make the hard work look easy. all depends on your outlook. >> kroft: charlie galli is the taxi driver on eigg, and the only source of public transportation up and down the island's furrowed main artery. it's a niche he claimed for himself when he arrived from the mainland with his wife and this aging volvo four years ago. plenty of time to get the feel of the place. you know everybody on the island? >> galli: i know them and their shoe sizes. and like i say, there's no secrets on an island, so... >> kroft: so what are they talking about this week? >> galli: mainly you. ( bagpipes )
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>> kroft: it's not like they don't get visitors. 12,000 tourists came here last year, most of them to spend only a few hours. there are very few places to stay. we were going to be here for days, asking questions about eigg's quirky history, and everyone directed us to maggie fyffe, the island secretary, who landed here 41 years ago after touring afghanistan in a camper. >> maggie fyffe: i never imagined that i would spend the rest of my life here. ( laughs ) >> kroft: does that mean you like it? >> fyffe: i think so, yeah. ( laughs ) >> kroft: it was 1976, just after the entire island had been purchased by a wealthy english toff named keith schellenberg, who became the seventh laird of eigg. >> keith schellenberg: welcome to eigg. >> kroft: under scotland's feudal landlord system, he had absolute power over virtually every aspect of his estate. what kind of impact did he have on people's lives? >> fyffe: he had that control over everything. and people, jobs, houses. and he wouldn't give anybody a lease on anything. >> kroft: by all accounts,
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schellenberg used the island as his personal playground, lavishly entertaining guests, and driving about in a 1927 rolls royce, while most of his tenants lived in poverty without electricity. was there a rebellion? >> fyffe: eventually, yep. ( laughs ) >> kroft: it started with a slow burn, that burst into flames one night in 1994, when schellenberg's beloved rolls royce met a fiery end, burnt to a crisp like a slice of bacon under circumstances still unexplained. >> fyffe: a mysterious fire, spontaneous combustion, who knows? >> kroft: so did you ever figure out what happened to the rolls royce? >> fyffe: no. >> kroft: headline writers all over britain couldn't believe their luck. there was "scrambled eigg," "burnt rolls," and "eigg comes to the boil." it went on for a year, until schellenberg gave up, expressing his disdain for the islanders in this bbc interview.
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>> schellenberg: i think that my ultimate failure with eigg is that i can't be bothered to try and get on with them anymore. >> kroft: his final act was to sell the island to a wacky german, who called himself "maruma," and claimed to be an artist of note and a professor. he turned out to be neither. up to his beret in debt, maruma stopped paying people's wages, and within two years, creditors put eigg up for auction. maggie fyffe and others thought, why not buy the island for ourselves? >> fyffe: by the time we got to maruma, and two years of somebody that was living in stuttgart and had only visited for four days, it had convinced everybody that we wouldn't have to do very much to do better than what he'd done, which was nothing! ( laughs ) >> kroft: no one in scotland had ever tried a community buyout before, certainly not 64 residents on a depressed, undeveloped island with no cash or credit. but lots of people were familiar with their story, and fancied
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the idea of wee folk taking on the big gu in 1997, a public fundraising campaign brought in $2.5 million to close the deal. the funds came from 10,000 individual contributors, and one huge check from an unknown woman. >> fyffe: the bulk of the money came from a mystery benefactor. >> kroft: a mystery benefactor? sounds like dickens. >> fyffe: it's a pretty crazy story, really. >> kroft: you don't know who she is? >> fyffe: the only string attached was that she remained anonymous. >> kroft: she ever been to the island? >> fyffe: not as far as i know. >> kroft: do you know why she did it? >> fyffe: i think she's given money to a lot of what she regards as good causes, and we were lucky enough to be one of them. ♪ ♪ >> kroft: that was 20 years ago. the eiggers and their friends marked the two decades of self-rule with a big blowout they call a "ceilidh," with traditional music, dancing, and drink. ♪ ♪
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we decided to cancel the next day's shoot to allow time for recovery, but 24 hours wasn't enough. what time did you leave the ceilidh? >> johnny jobson: it was about 8:00 a.m., i think, when we finally left, yeah. >> kroft: how long did it take you to recover? >> jobson: eh, it'll probably be tomorrow. >> kroft: johnny jobson first experienced eigg in his 20s, working on a fishing boat as a scallop diver. since then, a lot has changed. one, there is electricity now, which allowed him to move his wife and family here last year and edit a sports journal online from their tiny cottage. it's required some sacrifices, but they love the beauty of the place, and its eccentricities. >> jobson: you'll look at the scenery or you'll see a pod of donsomthrough, andou juucky you are. >> kroft: you ofcters on this l. >> jobson: yeah. >> kroft: were they normal when
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they came here? >> jobson: ( laughs ) yeah, not all of us. >> kroft: dean wiggin turned up in a kayak 14 years ago, and he's still here. he's very good at fixing things. jobs are extremely scarce, so you have to bring one with you or use your wits to invent one. >> sarah boden: it's one of those places that really gets into your soul, i think. it's quite enchanting. >> kroft: sarah boden runs her uncle's sheep farm on eigg. she grew up here, then left to work as a music journalist in london, where she met her future partner, johnny lynch, one of scotland's most popular musicians. she coaxed him to eigg. did you think he was going to come? >> boden: not really! ( laughter ) no, because i was living in a caravan at the time and yeah, it was all quite rustic. >> johnny lynch: yeah, you did look a bit shocked. >> boden: and johnny's, you know, a proper, suburban, city--
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>> lynch: what? >> boden: well, you're not a natural country boy, are you? >> lynch: if you mean, i look after my nails, then, then yes, yes i do. but, yeah, i knew from when-- as soon as i got here, i couldn't really see a reason for me to go back. and, just look at me now. >> see if you can spell it. >> kroft: when it comes to the essentials on eigg, there is basically one of everything. one primary school for five students. one grocery shop where 100 islanders all choose from the same food. and one pub at the tea room down by the wharf, where the best beer is local. stu mccarthy and gabe mcvarish, who are both married to women who grew up on eigg, got so tired of drinking the mass produced stuff from the mainland they started their own mini micro-brewery two years ago. so this is it. is this legal? >> stu mccarthy: it's legal. >> gabe mcvarish: it's legal. >> kroft: they make eight different brews, including "i am the eiggman," which is very popular with the tourists. they're just beginning to turn a
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profit, but say they've saved a lot of money drinking their own beer. are you the biggest-selling beer on eigg? >> mccarthy: thankfully, yes. yeah, we can say that. >> kroft: none of these younger people would be here without the island's tiny but unique power grid that runs almost entirely on renewable energy, a combination of wind, hydroelectric and solar, the first time it's ever been accomplished anywhere. >> fyffe: that is the biggest and most impressive project that we've done. >> kroft: it's changed everything, right? >> fyffe: oh, yeah. it's made life so much easier. >> kroft: it was designed and funded with multiple grants, mostly from the european union, and engineers from all over the world have come to study it. like everything else on eigg, it is run and maintained by revolving committees of islanders, the only visible sign of any sort of government. there are no offices, no court system, no police. is there any crime on the island? >> galli: there's no crime or anything. >> kroft: never?
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>> galli: not that i can remember. >> kroft: nobody's snatched something or borrowed something? >> galli: they borrow it, and you'll get it, usually within the week, you know. returned to you, kind of thing. you just don't know where it is at that point in time, you know, when you're looking for it. but it will turn up again. it can't go anywhere. it's on an island, so, yeah. >> kroft: what happens if somebody gets sick? >> galli: you basically have to be sick on a tuesday. the doctor comes from skye on a tuesday and spends the day here. and that's, sometimes, weather permitting. it's really rough in the wintertime. >> kroft: eigg is dependent on boats for everything. when a ferry comes in with fuel and food, people flock to the wharf to help out. it's not a courtesy. it's a necessity, on an island where everyone is more or less scraping by. to ser other, and put up with each other. the island is too small for feuds or lingering resentments. what's the difference between people who live on the mainland and people who live on eigg?
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>> galli: you know, the people on eigg, i'd have to say, are more evolved. >> kroft: charlie galli, the taxi driver and amateur philosopher, says most people here have done the whole life on the mainland thing and rejected it. >> galli: they're all doing their hamster wheel thing, you know. >> kroft: hamster wheel? >> galli: yeah. you get a mortgage, you get a car, you get a job. you do this and the next thing. and they all get so involved, they forget to look about them and see what's actually going on in life, you know. ( birds chirping ) >> kroft: you should know, eigg is not always served sunny side up. as the days get shorter, the windy, rainy weather turns to sleet, with gusts up to 100 miles an hour. the boats might not get through for a week, so people keep lots of beans and spam in the storeroom. even the sheep dogs look forlorn. >> boden: if you accidentally open your mouth when a gust of wind's coming, it involuntarily fills your lungs. you're like, ( gasps ). >> kroft: to live here, you have to be resilient, self sufficient
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and patient-- ( honking ) --and not just with the sheep. >> galli: the cows like to go down and lie on the beach, on the sand. and they'll all trail down the road. so, you cannot argue with a cow, you know. it wants to do what it wants to do. and you've just got to give it plenty of time, you know. >> kroft: there are no grand ambitions here and no discernible interest in development despite the sea, the cliffs and the vistas. the owners don't want hotels or a donald trump golf course or hundreds of new residents. >> fyffe: i think we're looking for one or two at a time. i think that's how, how it works here. then it works a lot better. and we've got time to get used to new people. ( laughs ) ♪ ♪ >> kroft: we would have liked to stay longer, in this stress- free, non-conflict zone where everyone seems to be more or less on the same page-- but we were out of clean laundry, we had a ferry to catch, and hamster wheels to jump back onto.
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as for the people of eigg, i don't think they were sad to see us go. ( ticking ) >> stahl: okay, so, the question you've been dreading all along. >> kroft: mm-hmm. >> stahl: your favorite story? >> kroft: i mean, they're so different... >> out of 500, kroft picks ten. in full, and online, at 60minutesovertime.com. sponsored by prevnar 13. for pneumococcal pneumonia - youk a potentially serious bacterial lung disease that can disrupt your life for weeks. in severe cases, pneumococcal pneumonia can put you in the hospital. it can hit quickly, without warning, making you miss out on what matters most. just one dose of the prevnar 13® vaccine n lpctrom pneucoccal pneumonia. it's not a yearly shot. prevnar 13® is approved for adults to help prevent infections from 13 strains of the bacteria that cause
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( ticking ) >> stahl: before we left steve kroft and his wife, author jennet conant, at their home on long island, he told us he had one final piece of company business to conduct. >> kroft: i left the building without turning in my badge. ( laughs ) my i.d. will you turn it in for me at security? >> stahl: you want me to? be happy to. ( laughs ) god, you look good. ( ticking ) i'm lesley stahl. most of us will be back next week with another edition of "60 minutes."
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>> previously on "big brother"! three power pairs were left in the game. michie and holly, tommy and christie and cliff and nicole. two of the duos plan to make it to the final four together. >> i hope i can trust michie and holly. it would be great working with them going forward. >> with michie wielding power. he wanted to take out the last loner. >> i want jess out. >> after tommy found himself a veto. >> tommy, you won the golden pow-veto.

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