Over a career lasting more than six decades, Hewitt directed Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, the most influential newsmen of their era, and helped shape coverage of moments historic both for television and the country, including the first presidential debate, between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, in 1960.
Hewitt directed the first network television newscast, featuring Douglas Edwards, in 1948, and executive produced the first half-hour network newscast — CBS Evening News With Walter Cronkite — in 1963. His innovations, according to CBS, included the first use of "supers" (the now ubiquitous type at the bottom of a television screen) and cutting back and forth between two projectors. He also introduced the practice of anchors using cue cards — which have now been replaced by the TelePrompTer.
His most visible accomplishment, 60 Minutes, debuted on Sept. 24, 1968. Hewitt took the title of executive producer when he stepped down from the show in 2004.
"Nixon, who needed some to cover up a sallow complexion and a growth of beard, also said "No thanks,'" Hewitt wrote. "I think he thought it wouldn't be good for his image if the public knew he was made-up and Kennedy wasn't. At any rate, his handlers did a dumb thing... Nixon's guys smeared him with a slapdash layer of something called "shavestick" that looked so terrible that, after looking at him on camera, I called the CBS president, Frank Stanton, into the control room to take a look."
Stanton asked one of Nixon's television advisor if he was satisfied with the candidate's appearance, and the advisor said he was.
"Kennedy won hands down (but not on the radio, where looks don't count)," Hewitt wrote.
Hewitt is survived by his wife of 30 years, Marilyn Berger, his sons Steven and Jeffrey by his first wife, Mary Weaver, who predeceased him; a daughter Lisa Cassara, by his second wife, Frankie Hewitt, who died in 2003; and Jilian Childers Hewitt, Frankie Hewitt's daughter by her first husband Bob Childers. Hewitt adopted her, CBS News said.