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Controversial Rooney of '60 Minutes' given Cronkite award

60 Minutes commentator will be honored despite controversial remark

 by Meagan Pollnow
 published on Thursday, March 27, 2003


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Andy Rooney, "60 Minutes" commentator, weekly columnist and author, will be the next recipient of the ASU journalism school's annual and most prestigious award.

The Cronkite Endowment Board of Trustees gives one Cronkite Award of Excellence to an outstanding journalist each year.

A selection committee of six trustees picks two or three journalists from a list of more than 100, said Joe Foote, director of the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

But Walter Cronkite, namesake of the journalism school, makes the final decision, Foote said.

He added that Rooney was chosen for a special reason.

"[Cronkite and Rooney] go back more than 60 years professionally, when they both covered World War II together as reporters, and have been friends ever since, and worked at CBS together," Foote said.

Rooney's award is controversial for some of those in the journalism field because of his sometimes snide comments.

In October, while on Madison Square Garden Network's "The Boomer Esiason Show," Rooney said women sportscasters should not be reporting on the sidelines at NFL games.

"The only thing that really bugs me about television coverage is those damn women they have down on the sidelines who don't know what the hell they are talking about," Rooney said in the interview, as quoted in an ESPN.com article.

Rooney added, "I'm not a sexist person, but a woman has no business being down there trying to make some comment about a football game."

Foote said the selection committee was aware of Rooney's comments.

"I think everyone on the committee knew he was someone who speaks his mind and they expect that," Foote said. "At his age and his stature, it's difficult to predict what he might say."

Foote said the selection of Rooney did not focus on his comments.

"The committee really looked at his overall record as a journalist for more than 60 years, and that was the determination in honoring him," Foote said.

Sharon Bramlett-Solomon, associate professor in the Cronkite school, said she thinks Rooney is deserving of the award, despite his comments.

"Obviously, I disagree with Mr. Rooney," Bramlett-Solomon said. "But he's a very respected journalist and a lot of tongue-in-cheek comes across in his reporting."

Bramlett-Solomon added that Rooney's comment was sexist and that sportscasters come in a variety of skills.

"There are some men that are very good sportscasters and there are some that are poor," Bramlett-Solomon said. "There are some women that are very good."

Journalism sophomore Dixon Hills said he was unaware of Rooney's comments regarding women sportscasters, but said Rooney is worthy of the award.

"I think he's a good guy," Hills said.

"His reporting during World War II was very respectable."

Rooney's first notoriety came when he fought as a pilot with the Eighth Air Force and participated in the first American bombing raid on Germany in 1943. He served as a correspondent later during the war.

Ray Artigue, senior vice president of communications for the Phoenix Suns and president of the board of trustees, said Rooney's comments "weren't relevant" to the selection process.

"We wanted to recognize him for the breadth and depth of a long illustrious career," Artigue said.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the award, and the board plans to honor past winners of the award, including ABC sports commentator Al Michaels (2002), and broadcast news analyst Bill Moyers (1995).

Rooney will receive his award at a luncheon at the Arizona Biltmore on Nov. 6.

Reach the reporter at meagan.pollnow@asu.edu.



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