In honor of the late Don Hewitt, here’s an interview I did with him on May 15, 2001, shortly after he published his autobiography, “Tell Me A Story: 50 Years and 60 Minutes on Television.”

Hewitt, who died of pancreatic cancer today at age 86, was one of the pioneers of TV news — from directing the earliest newscasts to executive producing “The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite” to launching the longest-running show in primetime, “Sixty Minutes.”

We talked about how he decided which stories ended up on the show, what kind of stories he wouldn’t put on the air, and how Ed Bradley suckered Hewitt into a practical joke that would have changed the opening to “Sixty Minutes” forever. He explained why the first televised presidential debate (Kennedy-Nixon, which Hewitt directed in 1960) was a bad night for America, and why political commercials should never have been allowed on TV.

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