Asking For Forgiveness
May 20, 2001

  • Rooney Angers Many Greeks With An Error
  • Have Other Correspondents Triggered Anger

A Greek artist's image of Christ

 (CBS) A weekly commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney:


At Easter I did an essay on how artists have portrayed Jesus Christ over the years.

I said "Turkish artists in Byzantium portrayed Christ's likeness in ceramic tile."

Greeks were furious and they demanded an apology. They say the Turks were not in Byzantium and would not have pictured Christ anyway because they were Muslim. Well, apparently I was wrong and I'm sorry.

It makes you feel bad when people are mad at you and, and for solace, I spoke to the other 60 Minutes correspondents.

I asked Ed Bradley if he ever had a lot of people mad at him.

“For me Andy, it was Turkish Americans and they were upset because of a story we did on Abdullah Ocalan,” Ed told me. “Turkish Americans were upset because we allowed him to answer questions and they considered him to be a terrorist. We got hundreds and hundreds of letters and emails. The interesting thing about it is that 90percent of them were exactly the same, just signed by a different person.”

“Dennis DeConcini... he was the one that was the worst,” Lesley Stahl told me. “He was a Senator, Arizona. I did a story on Congressional Pensions. And I asked him what about your Congressional Pension? He just blew up.”

“Well, you're once again trying to destroy and run down Congress,” DeConcini said to Stahl at the time. “You shouldn't do that; you're a grown woman and you ought to have something better to do.”

“He was just livid and he said, 'Besides your pension is probably bigger than mine,'” Stahl recalls. “And then he just picked up and stormed off.”

Then I asked Morley Safer.

“Often, they got angriest when I did a story called ‘Yes, But Is It Art?’ says Safer. “Because you can question people's’ sex life, you can question their religion, you can question their politics certainly and they'll deal with you in a very fair-minded way. When you question their art, their taste, you go to the very soul of their being. And because I didn't like some of their contemporary art, they accused me of being in bed with Jesse Helms, of being a philistine of philistines.”

“I did a story on the overpopulation of Eastern Long Island with white-tailed deer and the story suggested that maybe some of these deer would have to be shot,” says Steve Kroft. “I got hundreds of letters suggesting that maybe I ought to be shot or even worse, something done to my manhood. I mean the animal lovers are really scary people. Other than that, after the Super Bowl interview with Bill and Hillary Clinton discussing Gennifer Flowers. The interview upset Mrs. Clinton so much that she took Don Hewitt and Mike Wallace off the White House invitation list. And I think they have always blamed me.”

What about Mike Wallace? “The fact is the pieces that I do are so bland that nobody really ever gets mad at me,” Wallace told me.

But the archives tell a different story. Many people have been furious at Wallace for questioning them. He has been called “contemptible”, and even Nancy Reagan once got annoyed with him.

To err is human to forgive divine... come on you Greeks, be divine, forgive me.


The Themis Project is a grass-roots effort organized by the Hellenic Electronic Center and the Action Committee. HEC and the Action Committee have no affiliation with any registered political organizations in any country. The effort is not politically-motivated and neither is it addressed against any political party and/or member of any Government. The effort aims to preserve Greek history by voicing the concerns of the Diaspora against any distortions, amendments and/or denial of history, primarily motivated by the influence of foreign agents and governments. The opinions expressed by any HEC member organization or petitioner are not necessarily the opinions of HEC or the Action team, its volunteers,  its other member organizations or its sponsors.

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