FAIRFIELD, Conn. (AP) — Retired CBS News president Richard Salant, 78, who oversaw the introduction of “60 Minutes” and the “CBS Morning News,” died yesterday while giving a speech.
Salant was speaking to a group of senior citizens at the Country Club of Fairfield when he collapsed, CBS reported. The network said the cause of death was heart failure.
“Dick was doing what he loved best,” said Mike Wallace, CBS News correspondent. “He was talking about covering news and the difficulties reporters face in getting to the heart of a story.”
Salant, who retired in 1979, was known as a TV news pioneer and a staunch defender of First Amendment rights.
“Dick Salant was one of the founding fathers of CBS News,” said Howard Stringer, president of the CBS Broadcast Group.
Salant was president of CBS News from 1961-64, when he was named special assistant to the network’s president and a vice president of corporate affairs. He returned to head the network’s news division in 1966 and remained in that job until retiring in 1979.
Salant directed CBS’ coverage of the Vietnam War, the Apollo 11 moon landing and the assassination of President Kennedy.
During his tenure, the “CBS Evening News” became the first half-hour network newscast to be televised Monday through Friday.
Salant, a native of New York City, lived in New Canaan, Conn., with his wife, Frances. Survivors include five children and nine grandchildren.