Steve Kroft is retiring from 60 Minutes after 30 years and nearly 500 stories on the show, and a total of 50 years in journalism.
Kroft was 60 Minutes‘ longest-tenured journalist. He announced in May he would retire at the end of his 30th season with the show and news magazine.
Kroft, who is 74, will be featured on 60 Minutes at 7/6C September 8, 2019 in a special hour devoted to his career. He was a winner of the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award for his piece on The Isle of Eigg.
“Just off Scotland, a tiny island with one main road is a testament to human independence,” the episode’s description said.
The tribute show will highlight some of the brightest moments of his career. Among those are his report on Chernobyl, interviews with Clint Eastwood, Justice Clarence Thomas, Beyoncé and Jerry Seinfeld. The second part of the episode will rebroadcast “The Isle of Eigg.”
“I’ve always … had great amount of respect for people who’ve left their professions when they were on top,” Kroft told Deadline. “I felt that this was the time for me to go, that there were other things that I wanted to do that I still had the energy to do…”
Kroft got his start in the U.S. Army as a correspondent and photographer with Stars and Stripes and the Armed Forces Network. He was drafted just after his graduation from Syracuse University in 1967. Kroft returned home and got a job with a Syracuse station, and did stints with stations in Florida. He was hired by CBS in 1980 and named a national correspondent the following year. He joined 60 Minutes in 1989, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Here’s what you need to know:
Steve Kroft Gave 60 Minutes ‘An Important Dimension’ the Show Did Not Have Before Him, Colleague Said
Leslie Stahl, Kroft’s longtime colleague, interviewed Kroft about his time on 60 Minutes. She said he will be missed, not just on a personal level but because of what he brought to the show.
“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 collateralization and all of that, you gave the show a dimension, an important dimension that we hadn’t had before. We’re really gonna miss you,” she said.
“I’m gonna miss you too, Leslie,” he responded. “But I’m not gonna be a complete stranger… I’m sure I’ll see you.”
“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 brought 60 Minutes to places that no other television journalism could have gone without you, and I think we still need it, and a lot of us are very unhappy that you’re leaving,” she said. “And we don’t think 74 is old. Some of us, anyway.”
Stahl is 77.
He thanked her for her words.
“60 Minutes will be fine, just fine,” he said.
Kroft’s Most Notable Pieces Were Investigative Journalism Pieces, Including Saddam Hussein’s Financial Assets
Kroft’s most notable contributions to 60 Minutes and to the journalism industry as a whole were his investigative journalism pieces. Many of those abide by the familiar journalism adage, “follow the money.”
Kroft and his producers uncovered Saddam Hussein’s hidden financial assets, which were estimated in the billions of dollars. The report, Tracking Saddam’s Billions, garnered worldwide attention. The fruit of his labor was made apparent following a 2011 story on insider trading in the U.S. Congress. The 60 Minutes episode resulted in the passage of Senate and House versions of the STOCK Act (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge). Kroft also exposed the fabrications in Greg Mortenson’s best-selling book, “Three Cups of Tea.” Kroft also exposed corruption in the Iraqi government, and the $500 million theft of money the U.S. gave Iraq to rebuild their army.
The story that most impacted Kroft, he told The Hollywood Reporter, was a 2001 report on financial firm Sandler O’Neill. The firm lost 70 people, or about one-third of its employees, in the Sept. 11, 2001 World Trade Center attacks.
“In the days following the disaster, the surviving partner, Jimmy Dunne, allowed us to follow him and other managers as they planned the funerals, comforted and counseled the families, and against impossible odds, kept the company running during the worst days,” he said. “It survived and is thriving today.”