60 Minutes' producer Don Hewitt made a terrible mistake when he assigned Harry Reasoner to interview Miles Davis in 1989. Reasoner had little understanding of Davis the combative jazz artist. Reasoner also asked a large proportion of dumb questions that steadily tried to cast Davis as a rotten piece of work and a nasty, unentitled charlatan.
As a result, in the following clip, we witness an increasingly annoyed Davis going out of his way to intimidate his interviewer and make him look weak and inept. For whatever reason, Reasoner thought Davis, the musician, was just another Malibu celebrity who cared about what viewers thought about him. Big mistake. The more Reasoner turned the interview into a combative and judgmental white-black showdown, the more Davis politely put him on and hung him out to dry. Instead of Davis seeming outrageous, one senses that Reasoner is out of his element.
By the end, Davis was ignoring Reasoner entirely, choosing to watch television instead of answering questions. Reasoner, of course, positioned the TV-watching incident as an outrageous Davis doing what he pleased. Interestingly, Reasoner seemed to have completely missed the point that Davis had tuned him out after one dopey quesiton too many, ending the interview earlier without officially asking Reasoner to leave.
Yet for reasons that have little to do with Reasoner, this 60 Minutes segment remains fascinating from the artist's perspective and how someone of Davis' artistic temperament handled gotcha-TV's attempts to trip him up and put him in the mainstream box: