Trends away from Traditional Documentaries
Media critic Edwin Diamond noted that Burton Benjamin of CBS felt a serious, detailed examination of a "serious" topic was losing out to fast-paced ratings successes like the CBS hit 60 Minutes and its ABC counterpart "20/20." In this comment, the CBS veteran termed the network documentary an "endangered species."1 The comment quoted by Diamond was made at the University of Pennsylvania in February 1987.
Diamond in the same analysis has termed another CBS program, 48 Hours," an "antidocumentary,"2 in the sense that it is the opposite of the traditional documentary. An analysis of 48 Hours is found in Chapter Five.
Diamond suggests that 60 Minutes," 20/20 and the other magazine programs "normally offer more infotainment than an exposé or social criticism."3
In the same study Diamond notes that CBS "invented the [magazine] form in 1967 and the program continued to roll on into the 1990s."4Diamond gives the example of a 60 Minutes segment on Roy Cohn during which Cohn denied having AIDS while he was being treated at the National Institutes of Health.5
A great deal of political content can be found in the January 20, 1991, broadcast of 60 Minutes," as recorded on the CBS transcript. Segments dealt with Saddam Hussein's bodyguard, Captain Karim (a pseudonym), interviewed in Paris by Morley Safer; with an