(CBS Local)– A new season of “60 Minutes” premieres on CBS this Sunday, September 20 at 7 p.m. EST and it features two timely and important stories about mail-in voting in Philadelphia and LSU head football coach Ed Orgeron. Correspondents Bill Whitaker and Jon Wertheim are the journalists bringing those stories to television as the 2020 presidential election is less than 50 days away and college football is being played in the middle of a global pandemic.
“60 Minutes” begins its 53rd season on Sunday and both Whitaker and Wertheim say being a part of the gold stand of newsmagzine television is like playing in the big leagues.
“I had been working with the CBS Evening News for more than 30 years and sort of thought I had the hang of it,” said Whitaker in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “You move to 60 Minutes and it’s the big leagues. Everything is pumped up, everything is more important and significant. It’s challenging and it’s fun and has an impact that no other news broadcast has. You couldn’t ask for anything better as a broadcast journalist.”
“I like Bill’s analogy, it really does feel like a call up to the big leagues,” said Wertheim in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “Sometime you get to these exalted places and sometimes they don’t measure up and they don’t meet your expectations. 60 Minutes has been the opposite. It is everything you would expect it to be, it is everything you would want in a news outlet and really is is an honor to be a part of the tradition.”
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) September 17, 2020
For Sunday’s episode, Whitaker took a trip to Philadelphia to talk with people in Pennsylvania about their mail-in ballot system and the impact of COVID-19 on the 2020 election.
“When you go to Philadelphia, it’s the cradle of American democracy,” said Whitaker. It was the very first state to have vote by mail. President Trump who is campaigning in the state and has been there four or five times this summer and every time he is there he says mail-in ballots are not safe. That has injected a lot of confusion in the process. We found a lot of people scratching their heads saying ‘is this safe, is this going to work.’ There are questions about the mail service. All of these questions are still up in the air and Election Day is six weeks away.”
On Thursday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted the Democratic Party’s request to order a three-day extension of Pennsylvania’s Election Day deadline to count mailed-in ballots. Meanwhile, just like mail-in voting, college football continues to be a hot button topic. Wertheim’s feature on Coach Orgeron started out as just that and then it turned into a news story when conferences suspended their seasons and some like the Big 10 did an about face and brought college football back.
“I sort of envisioned this as this fun sports feature. Here’s this colorful, charismatic coach, they won the national title and then COVID-19 hits and this becomes a much different story,” said Wertheim. “We were inside the football facility at a time when it was uncertain if there would be college football. Even as we talk today, this remains a controversial and not surprisingly a politicized issue. That’s really the beauty of 60 Minutes. It’s really one of the virtues of the show. You can pitch a story thinking it’s going to be X and it turns into Y.”
Watch “60 Minutes” on CBS Sunday, September 20 at 7 p.m. EST and watch all of DJ Sixsmith’s interviews from “The Sit-Down” series here.