Mike Wallace: Reporter First and Last
In this era of celebrity journalism, when television news stars often out-glitter the politicians and other public figures they cover,
At the same time, Wallace, who passed away the other day at the age of 93, was a beguiling charmer who could, as the Irish say in
Wallace managed to draw out kings and crooks alike with a combination of deference and determination. It enabled him most times to retreat with his subject's head on a platter while cordially shaking hands goodbye. In the process, he made many lasting friends of those to whom he had applied the Wallace treatment.
He was, as he liked to say, a reporter -- not a commentator, nor a prognosticator, nor a talking head, of which today's television network and cable community has such an overabundance. In his earlier days, Wallace took his turn in some of these manifestations of journalistic show business, even as part of one of those bright boy-and-girl breakfast chats that amused sleepy-eyed housewives and other early risers long ago.
But he eventually settled into the milieu of hard-nosed investigative journalism that came to be the trademark of the
It was a tribute to his mailed fist in a velvet glove that it was written that the most intimidating four words in the English language were "
But television after all is first and foremost a visual medium. Wallace and his prime producer on "60 Minutes,"
More often than not, however, Wallace excelled in probing the essentials of what made his subjects tick, applying what could be called a polite but edgy insistence toward them that often was revealing whether or not he elicited straight answers.
He was in a sense the airwave antithesis of
My own limited encounters with
There has always been a certain rivalry between television and print reporters, and in the writing press a modicum of jealousy about our television brethren's notoriety and fatter salaries. But none of it applied very much toward
A look back at Mike Wallace's legacy
"60 Minutes" correspondent Mike Wallace transformed journalism, leaving a legacy of tough questioning and great interviewing
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