Andy Rooney (pictured), the late crotchety “60 Minutes” commentator, was known for his closing segment called “A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney.” Although his strong opinions on all matters were part of his shtick, Rooney caused quite a stir on this day in 1990, after getting suspended for racist remarks toward African Americans and gays.
Rooney’s comments were captured by LGBT-focused publication “The Advocate’s” writer Chris Bull. Although no tape of the phone interview was made available, “Advocate” representatives planned to run the remarks in an upcoming issue. How Rooney got on the publication’s radar was attributed to a special “A Year with Andy Rooney” show, where he was critical of “homosexual unions,” which sparked a letter defending the comments to “The Advocate’s” editor. However, it was Bull who quoted the infamous remark.
Andy Rooney to “The Advocate”:
Most people are born with equal intelligence, but Blacks have watered down their genes because the less intelligent ones are the ones that have the most children. They drop out of school early, do drugs, and get pregnant.
CBS News’ then-President David Burke met with Rooney and issued a statement with the announcement of a three-month suspension without pay. “I have discussed with Andy Rooney the statements attributed to him,” Mr. Burke said. ”I have made it clear that CBS News cannot tolerate such remarks or anything that approximates such comments, since they in no way reflect the views of this organization.”
Rooney returned to television, and while his tone softened somewhat, he was still curmudgeonly as ever. In Rooney’s book “Year Of Minutes,” he spoke about his on- and- off-air troubles in an apologetic tone.
There was never a writer who didn’t hope that in some small way he was doing good with the words he put down on paper, and while I know it’s presumptuous, I’ve always had in my mind that I was doing some little bit of good. Now I was to be known for having done, not good, but bad. I’d be known for the rest of my life as a racist bigot and as someone who had made life a little more difficult for homosexuals. I felt terrible about that and I’ve learned a lot, wrote Andy Rooney.
Rooney passed away at age 92 on November 11, 2011, just over a month since his last broadcast appearance on CBS.