Winner 2001

60 Minutes II: Memories of a Massacre

CBS News, New York

A Peabody goes to CBS’ 60 Minutes II: Memories of a Massacre. Co-produced by Gregory Vistica and Tom Anderson, this painfully honest segment investigates the actions of an American Navy SEAL unit under the command of former Senator Bob Kerrey, actions that took place in the village of Thanh Phong, Vietnam, in February 1969. There, civilian men, women and children, as well as enemy guerrilla fighters, were killed in bloody close combat. Kerrey’s personal recollections of the events are framed by his admission of guilt and of unrelenting awareness of the horror of the night in question. One member of the unit, however, disputes Kerrey’s account, and argues that the actions did, in fact, constitute unnecessary massacre. After this account was filmed, and after the production team also traveled to Vietnam and interviewed a survivor of the action, Kerrey sat for a second interview in which he confronted the accusations. He explains that under the rules of engagement as he and his men understood them, the actions were justified. Interviewer Dan Rather leads Kerrey to this point in an exceptionally careful manner. In his summation, Rather suggests without exoneration that the terror of war can confront good people with the most horrible of choices and propel them toward terrible actions. For a brave public accounting of most dreadful events, CBS’ 60 Minutes II: Memories of a Massacre receives a George Foster Peabody Award.