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60 Minutes Viewers Can't Help But Notice The Show's Unfortunate Decline Over The Years

"60 Minutes" premiered in September of 1968 with an inside look at the competing presidential election campaigns of Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey (via IMDb). Nixon would go on to win comfortably that November (via 270 to Win), capping off a tumultuous year for the U.S. that saw the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. King's murder sparked riots in Detroit, and violent protests at that year's Democratic convention gave the fledgling news magazine plenty of big stories to cover in its first year on the air. 

During its 55 seasons, top-name journalists like Ed Bradley, Dan Rather, Connie Chung, Charlie Rose, Charles Kuralt, and Diane Sawyer have built their reputations appearing on the venerable program which has broadcast well over 2,000 episodes as of this writing. 

Throughout its 55 seasons, "60 Minutes" has spotlighted numerous wars and elections, the rocky end of Conan O'Brien's tenure with NBC, and the 2011 capture of Boston mobster Whitey Bulger, at the time the FBI's No. 1 most wanted criminal (via YouTube). But over its five-plus decades on air, the investigative teeth of "60 Minutes" have gradually worn down, and current viewers have taken notice and begun to make their opinions known on social media.

Some viewers feel 60 Minutes is no longer a top journalistic program

The ticking stopwatch that leads off each episode of "60 Minutes" used to indicate to viewers that some painstakingly researched journalism was headed their way, but over the years, the show has gradually lost its investigative edge, and viewers are mincing no words in showing their dissatisfaction with the show's perceived decline. 

On the r/60Minutes subreddit, u/QCmpsn asked, "how do ppl genuinely feel about the show's obvious decline in the last few years, it was literally the [conscience] of the 20th century exposing dictators, corporate malfeasance, hypocrisy in US Foreign Policy etc."  

They went on to point out specific ways they felt the show had abandoned its journalistic responsibility to tell truth to power in favor of more commercially  viable stories, writing, "If you look at their program now its mainly human interest pieces ... they've largely stopped doing investigative journalism." The disgruntled viewer went on to single out Anderson Cooper, who joined "60 Minutes" in 2007 (via Britannica.com), as the only correspondent who's had some relevance or a substantial following away from the show.

On Twitter, @Spottskelly62 wrote, "#60Minutes you have gone downhill so bad over the last 25 maybe 35 years how can you even call yourself journalists" and added clown and poop emoji as punctuation. The dissatisfaction of some other viewers, like twitter's @BMWAdvRider, seems to be more a product of their own personal political leanings than from unbiased observation of the show's content.

Despite viewer ctriticism, 60 Minutes still gets good ratings

Also on Twitter, @RIPBeagleGuy noted, "#60Minutes hasn't been known for the quality of their journalism for a good long while. There's a reason it airs in the post-NFL football slot, where it can be cut with no great loss when games run long." @MiyashiroGlen mused, "I also don't remember 60 Minutes ever being good. Maybe in the 70s when Andy Rooney was still alive." Rooney died in 2011 after more than 1,000 appearances on "60 Minutes" (via IMDb), yet his curmudgeonly presence is apparently still missed by at least one unhappy viewer. 

Disgruntled semi-fans aside, "60 Minutes" has performed admirably in the ratings lately. According to The Futon Critic, the show was the most-watched non-sports prime-time show for seven straight weeks last fall and finished in the top 10 every week in 2022. Despite the anger directed at the show by some viewers on social media, "60 Minutes" continues to draw plenty of eyeballs, and likely isn't going anywhere soon after all those years on the air.