George Crile, CBS News Producer, Dead at 61

May 16, 2006  •  Post A Comment

George Crile III, an award-winning news producer and best-selling author, died Monday after battling pancreatic cancer. He was 61 and had been diagnosed in November 2005.

Mr. Crile, the husband of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia President Susan Lyne, worked for more than a quarter century for CBS News, first for the “CBS Reports” documentary unit starting in 1976. In 1986 he moved to “60 Minutes” as a producer working with Mike Wallace, Harry Reasoner and Ed Bradley.

“George Crile was one of the finest reporters who ever worked at CBS News,” said “60 Minutes” executive producer Jeff Fager, who started “60 Minutes II” in 1999 and asked Mr. Crile to help. “He took on difficult assignments and always came back with more than anybody expected. We will miss his great talent, and his wonderful friendship.”

Mr. Crile covered stories including the Three Mile Island nuclear-reactor crisis, the U.S. invasion of Panama, the Sandanistas in Nicaragua, the Rwandan genocide and the Gulf War. He reported on the KGB and the world of Soviet intelligence, and in 1991 brought to light a secret room in Moscow where the brains of Soviet leaders were preserved.

One of Mr. Crile’s most famous reports was “The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception,” which was broadcast on CBS Reports in 1982 and spawned a three-year legal battle. Vietnam commander General Westmoreland sued over the story, which broke news on manipulation of enemy troop strength reports by the military.

The suit was dropped after CBS issued a statement saying it never intended to impugn Gen. Westmoreland’s patriotism. Westmoreland claimed it was an apology, which CBS vehemently denied.

Mr. Wallace praised Mr. Crile’s work and character.

“He was courageous, resourceful, a superb reporter and a dear friend,” said Mr. Wallace.

Donations in Mr. Crile’s memory can be made to The George Crile III Fund at the Cleveland Clinic, P.O. Box 931517, Cleveland, Ohio 44101.