During a 1991 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Meredith Vieira explained that she was fired from the series after asking to be a part-time employee because she was pregnant with her second child at the time. Vieira reportedly met with then-60 Minutes executive producer Don Hewitt to discuss extending her already light workload as she was already working part-time to raise her first child. Hewitt reportedly responded by simply cutting her from the series, claiming that the network needed full-time reporters and their part-time work would unfairly burden other employees.
“I understand his point, but I think it could have been really groundbreaking for 60 Minutes,” said Vieira. “As women show up in this business, people don’t put families on hold… I didn’t go into this job to mislead anyone. I was very direct about wanting a family.” Vieira’s firing sparked outrage from several other news outlets, as well as multiple accusations of sexism and cruelty from CBS executives. Hewitt herself went so far as to attack Vieira’s short stint on the series, claiming that no one saw her stories anyway and that her allegations against the network drew much more attention than her coverage ever did.
There was certainly a lot of bad blood between Vieira and CBS after her departure from 60 Minutes. Although Vieira has become one of the most recognizable names in all of television, it’s clear that her departure from the series was a major setback in an otherwise prolific career.