August 12, 2014 11:27 AM EDT

“You know I hate to miss 60 Minutes,” Elaine says in the “Puerto Rican Day” episode of Seinfeld. “It’s part of my Sunday weekend wind-down.” For nearly 40 years, 60 Minutes has been simultaneously confrontational and as comforting as a mug of warm milk. The show has been much imitated (where would your local-news’ Shame On You segment be without it?) and has had its embarrassments (the tobacco back-down chronicled in the movie The Insider, a good number of Andy Rooney segments). But it sticks to the ideal that a camera could be a crowbar to pry out truths. In a medium that depends on millions sitting and watching, it reminds us that TV can be most effective (or scary) when watching you.

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