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Sharyn Alfonsi's 60 Minutes Interview With The Taliban Almost Fell Through

Sharyn Alfonsi's career as a contributor to "60 Minutes" is nothing if not eclectic. As noted in Variety, during her time with the CBS newsmagazine she's covered everything from the jailhouse death of sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein to interviews with personalities ranging from Paul McCartney and Adam Sandler to El Salvadorian president Nayib Bukele.

As also detailed by Variety, Alfonsi's reportorial work prior to joining the award-winning, sometimes controversial "60 Minutes" was no less varied. As a reporter for ABC News programs, including "World News Tonight" and "Nightline," she covered stories like the inhumane conditions within an Amish puppy mill in Pennsylvania. Before that, she chased down breaking news as a CBS correspondent, covering stories from Hurricane Katrina to the war in Iraq. In addition to winning an Emmy, Alfonsi was also the recipient of the 2020 On-Air Talent National TV Gracie Award (per CBS News).

In 2021, Alfonsi and a small crew journeyed to war-torn Afghanistan to explore the humanitarian crisis gripping that country in the months after the U.S. pulled its forces out. But just as it looked like she would land a rare interview with a member of the reclusive Taliban government, Alfonsi's newsmaking dream was on the verge of evaporating.

Alfonsi's interview with a Taliban minister would be a scoop -- if it happened

As described in a Hollywood Reporter article about Sharyn Alfonsi's 2021 trip to Afghanistan for a "60 Minutes" segment, a coveted interview with a Taliban minister looked like it was about to finally happen — until it nearly didn't.

While arranging the Taliban interview was complex enough, Alfonsi explained that just getting into the country wasn't easy either, saying, "We didn't know if they were going to let us in or not, it was a little bit of a gamble." Then there was the convoluted process of organizing a meeting with any of the notoriously camera-shy Taliban officials. "We used a third party who was helping us to get in touch with them, and it was on and off," Alfonsi said, adding that even once a meeting was set up, there was no guarantee any of the Taliban would agree to be filmed. Even after an hour of negotiating over his appearance on-camera, the minister tried to repeatedly stop the shoot. "But he ultimately kept going," Alfonsi said.

Alfonsi also recalled that she and her crew were then unexpectedly invited to eat with Taliban leaders in the basement after the interview. But she noted that her crew still had their guard up, adding, "We made sure we had the media of our interview in our pockets, on us physically. We didn't want them to take the interview."