Nightly News | November 05, 2011
LESTER HOLT, anchor: Finally tonight, remembering Andy Rooney . The legendary former " 60 Minutes " commentator passed away last night at the age of 92, just a month after his final televised appearance. Rooney entered a New York hospital last month for surgery, but complications developed and he was unable to bounce back. For decades for a few minutes each week Andy Rooney came into our living rooms to enlighten us, to amuse us and often to complain about us. Tonight we asked NBC 's Mike Taibbi to spend a few minutes looking back.
Mr. ANDY ROONEY: But I'm not retiring...
MIKE TAIBBI reporting: Andy Rooney 's sign-off on " 60 Minutes " on October 2nd was part thank you note to his fans and typically, part curmudgeonly request should those same fans see him in a restaurant.
Mr. ROONEY: Please, just let me eat my dinner.
TAIBBI: At 92, Rooney had been writing professionally for more than 70 years, from his start on the Army Stars and Stripes newspaper and through his subsequent career as a radio and television writer and syndicated columnist. But though his end piece essays on " 60 Minutes " made him an iconic star...
Mr. ROONEY: You know something I don't like, chocolate chip cookies .
TAIBBI: ...he was unique in the firmament of television stars.
Mr. ROONEY: I don't think of myself as a television personality. I'm a writer who reads what he's written.
TAIBBI: It made him appointment TV . Millions tuned in each week to see him. And his more than 1,000 essays were collected in 15 best-selling books. Along the way, people got to know an American original, composed of traits known to most families, rumpled and sometimes irascible...
Mr. ROONEY: Dogs are nicer than people.
TAIBBI: ...but moved, too, when people proved to be kind or brave.
Mr. ROONEY: They make up for a lot of liars, cheats and terrorists among us.
TAIBBI: And as a writer who regularly put his own views on display, he learned about himself, too, in front of our eyes.
Mr. ROONEY: But I do care. I care a lot.
TAIBBI: A self-described lifelong liberal, he entered World War II as a pacifist, but after seeing the horrors of the concentration camps, he came to believe, as he told Tom Brokaw , that some wars are necessary.
Mr. ROONEY: The Germans had been wrong in starting it and I decided I had been wrong in objecting to the war.
TAIBBI: And when his essays outraged some, comments critical of homosexuals or of the dead rock star Kurt Cobain , he apologized and meant it, and carried on.
Mr. ROONEY: I know I've been terribly wrong sometimes but I think I've been right more often than I've been wrong.
TAIBBI: A voice for the thoughts of every man, silenced as he knew it would be...
Mr. ROONEY: I wish I could do this forever. I can't though.
TAIBBI: ...but a voice as memorable as that ticking clock, the last few minutes for three decades, his. Mike Taibbi , NBC News, New York.