What I Wanted To Ask Andy Rooney

05 Nov
November 5, 2011

There’s a lot about Andy Rooney I didn’t know. I’m not talking about the private Andy Rooney– I’m talking about the writer Andy Rooney. After reading his obit on CBS News, I realized just how dynamic this man was from beginning to end.

We all know him as that old guy on 60 Minutes that talks about stuff. Many think of him as a curmudgeon (even though I would argue that he should best be known for his curiosity). Now, I learned that he was also active in the Civil Rights movement. As a soldier in the 1940s, he was arrested for sitting in the back of the Army bus– an area designated for blacks only.

And I also learned that he was the reason so many people tuned in to 60 Minutes. According to the obituary, ratings would spike during his segment. I guess that’s not surprising. But I think Andy was surprised. I truly believe he didn’t understand why people wanted to watch him. He just knew he enjoyed doing what he did.

I always hoped I’d meet Andy Rooney. I sometimes thought about questions I would ask him if I ever got the chance. I wanted to write some of these down and perhaps one day I’ll understand the answers:

“Andy– how did you convince anyone to let you do an essay on doors? Was the network hurting for programming, or are you just that convincing?”

“When you worked for the Stars and Stripes, was your work ever censored? Were you encouraged to follow suit with the trend of trying to convince Americans the US was winning the war, even when things weren’t looking good? Or is that something that was incorrectly taught to young people?”

“Have you ever lost sleep over an essay you weren’t happy with because of content?”

“Have you ever lost sleep after reading a letter from a viewer or reader?

“What do you think on-camera writers working for news organizations should do? Are there topics being missed? Is there a greater good writers should be working toward?”

“Does it bother you that young people like me don’t use proper grammar and have trouble spelling (and I guarantee you it’s not because of spell check– at least not in my case).

“What do you think about the evolving English Language– with dictionaries adding words like d’oh! and words created by reality stars.”

“Did you ever go through all the boxes you kept of interesting articles?”

“If you die, what should happen to the desk you made? Would you like to see your office moved to the Newseum? Or do you want to keep it in your family?”

“I’m confused– do you hate or love chocolate chip cookies? And how can anyone hate chocolate chip cookies?”

“Is there anyone living that you wish you could have met and what do you want to ask that person?”

“Over time, how did you find the courage to write about topics you knew would make people write in to tell you they hate you and other nasty things?”

“Do you ever wish you spoke up even more about something?”

“Please share your advice for young journalists and writers.”

2 replies
  1. Vic says:

    What thought provoking thoughts? I wish you had been able to meet him. He must have loved doing his thing because he kept it up until he was 92

  2. Joel Harding says:

    Excellent! It’s shame we will never get to meet this talented and insightful man. Andy Rooney is and was someone I would want to talk with – a lot. We’ve lost another great one… Thanks for writing this up, very insightful!

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