Mike Wallace was the first journalist hired for CBS Producer’s brand new primetime news show, “60 Minutes,” in 1968. A near-savage reporter whose style was a mix between a Grand Jury Investigation and a CIA Interrogation, his intent was to wrench the all too dirty truth from his counterpart’s mouth.
Wallace was and is a legend in the journalistic community, known for tireless lengthy preparations for both interviews and exposés of world icons. It has even been alleged that a Mike Wallace interview could strike fear in the heart of any man or woman unlucky enough to become a target of his journalistic interests.
Recently slowed by heart surgeries, CBS sources say that the 93-year-old Wallace died Sunday at a care facility in New Canaan, Connecticut, where he had be living in recent years.
Though Wallace will be remembered as a superior journalist, a few exclusive interviews made him a true television-journalism superhero.
His 1973 interview of Nixon aide John Ehrlichman was paramount in informing the American public of the true nature of President Nixon’s Watergate Scandal, and helped expose the unethical aspects of the investigation. In the following decades, Wallace would again make a splash after an interview with Barbara Streisand during which he made the singer/actress openly weep when he questioned her twenty years of psychoanalysis. Of this, he famous quipped “What is it she is trying to find out that takes 20 years?”
Following his retirement from 60 minutes in 2006, Wallace continued to report as a special correspondent to 60 Minutes. Reserving his time for only the most intriguing public figures, the journalist recorded some of his strongest interviews at this time.
From 2006 to 2008, when health problems kept him permanently off the air, his cutting interviews included Iranian Presisent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and disgraced Baseball Star Roger Clemens. In these interviews, the eight decade old journalist continually exposed information that his younger cohorts could never have imagined revealing.
Above all of this, however, Mike Wallace was a truly ethical journalist, known more for his upmost integrity than his excellent interview record. In all of his time as a journalist, he was legitimately accused of libel only once; by a disillusioned and angry General George Westmoreland (the case was eventually dropped).
“The person I am interviewing has not been subpoenaed.” Wallace famously noted “He’s in charge of himself, and he lives with his subject matter every day. All I’m armed with is research”
Born in Brookline, Massachussetts in 1918, Mike Wallace leaves his wife, Mary Yates Wallace, a son, Chris, a Stepdaughter Pauline Dora, and stepson Eames Yates.Tags: 60 Minutes, Barbara Streisand, CBS, death, General Westmoreland, Journalism, Mike Wallace, Nixon, Richard Nixon