Andy Rooney: ‘A Writer’s Job Is to Tell the Truth’

I will miss Andy Rooney, who died last week at the age of 92, even though I haven’t been a regular viewer of 60 Minutes for years. “I wish I could do this forever,” Rooney said after delivering his 1097th and final essay about a month ago.

I remember Rooney and a few of his signature essays such as the the one about Mrs. Smith (of Mrs. Smith’s Pies) that won him one of four Emmys. I wish I could  locate it on YouTube or elsewhere online. I tried.

Rooney was a lovable crank, dispensing opinions and wit from behind his wooden desk. He was funny without trying, apparently.

“I’ve always thought that it was a mistake to set out to be funny,” he said in an interview on news writing. “Humor should be incidental to something else.”

Rooney also said, “A writer’s job is to tell the truth.”

Telling the truth is harder than it looks. It takes a clear, sharp message, not to mention courage. When you do tell the truth, sometimes people laugh. And sometimes they hurl things.

Rooney experienced both extremes. “I can say what I think is right and if so many people think it’s wrong that I get fired, well, I’ve got enough to eat,” he said after opposing the Iraq War.

The best thing for Andy Rooney was that he got to do something he loved, calling himself luckier than was a mistke to set out to be funny. Humor should be


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