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Artifact: Morley Safer’s Middle Name Is Danger

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CBS News correspondent Morley Safer, left, filing an official report from Cam Ne, Vietnam, 1965.  

Below, a transcript of a parody segment filmed in Saigon by CBS correspondents Morley Safer and Murray Fromson during the Vietnam War. The never-aired footage was recently uncovered in the CBS archives on 57th Street.


JULY 22, 1965
SAIGON, VIETNAM

[Morley Safer and Murray Fromson sit at typewriters, pretending to write.]

Safer: What kind of war have you been having, Murray?
Fromson: Well, Morley, as you know, I’ve just come back from the shark-infested waters of Cam Ranh Bay, where a couple of thousands of our battle-hardened dogfaces just splashed ashore. And they’re ready for their first face-to-face encounter with the wily and elusive Vietcong.
Safer: I’ve just come back from the impenetrable jungle that sounds this—surrounds this tense and war-torn city, where each night the thump of artillery plays a staccato of death all around us.
Fromson: Running into any bugle-blowing human-wave attacks?
Safer: Yes. Not to mention a buzz saw of resistance.
Fromson: Well, up at Cam Ranh, the wisecracking GIs have just finished an operation that went off like clockwork.
Safer: I’ll bet the going wasn’t as eerie and treacherous as it is down here in the leech-ridden swamps of the delta.

[Safer shuffles around some papers.]

Fromson: Well, you’re right, but of course up at Cam Ranh, which sits astride the classic invasion route to Saigon, we are secure in the knowledge that our swept-wing supersonic bombers provide us with an umbrella of protection.
Safer: Yes, yes. Many is the time I’ve seen them roar out of the predawn darkness like a swarm of angry locusts.
Fromson: Mmm, winging northward, no doubt, with their heavy payloads earmarked for the vital supply lines of the Ho Chi Minh Trail?
Safer: Well, that swashbuckling, black-suited, 35-year-old playboy pilot Premier Nguyen Cao Ky has vowed to take the war to Hanoi.
Fromson: No doubt, right to the Ho Chi Minh Trail, or the Ho Chi Minh doorstep. Speaking of Ky, Morley, how long can this charade of political musical chairs continue in the coup-ridden capital?
Safer: Well, I guess we can’t expect democracy to take root immediately in an emerging nation that has suffered so long under the yoke of colonialist rule. But the sands of time may be running out.
Fromson: Sands of time?
Safer: Well, you know what I mean. The old clock on the wall.
Fromson: Good night, Morley.
Safer: Good night, Murray.


Reached by phone recently, Safer said he remembered filming the segment to pass the time on a “very, very slim news day.” Said the 60 Minutes correspondent, “I’d just come back from the DMZ—I was up there for five or six days. I slept for about twelve hours, had something to eat, and walked into the office, and there was nothing to do.” He added that he can’t imagine today’s war correspondents feeling at ease enough to take part in such a joke. “I’m sure that Iraq has its own gallows humor, but I don’t think it’s as free and easy as it was in Vietnam. We were reasonably safe out in the towns, which is just not the case in Iraq. Vietnam had its perils, but nothing like this.”


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