Mike Wallace has passed on. In this post, I’ll list what I consider to be ten significant Mike Wallace moments.
1. 60 Minutes would be on in my household every Sunday
night. And Mike Wallace would be the first anchor to introduce himself
in the lineup. He’d say “I’m Mike Wallace” as his head went up and
down. My Dad once said that he saw 60 Minutes preach the
Gospel more than the self-appointed Armstrongite preachers who thought
that they had a divine mandate. What my Dad meant by that was that 60 Minutes did us a service by exposing corruption.
2. As someone with an Armstongite background, I absolutely have to mention Mike Wallace taking down Stanley Rader, who was a key figure in Herbert Armstrong’s movement. See here and here for information on that. Not only did I watch the 60 Minutes story,
but I also listened via cassette to Wallace’s unedited interview of
Rader. (A relative of mine somehow had a copy of that.) Rader was a
sharp lawyer and accountant who gave Wallace some good back-and-forth,
but, ultimately, the interview made neither Rader nor the Worldwide
Church of God look that good.
3. My Grandma told me that she once saw Mike Wallace at the airport.
4. In his book Born Again, Charles Colson talked about Mike
Wallace’s interview of him during the Nixon years. Colson said that
Mike Wallace was quite affable, but then the interview started and it
was like “ding, ding, ding”, as Mike jumped on Colson and reminded him
of the bad things Colson did or was accused of doing.
5. At the Hebrew Union College library, I looked at a book that Mike
Wallace wrote about his interviews. Wallace talked about his interview
with Ronald Reagan in 1980. Wallace asked Reagan tough questions, such
as how many African-Americans Reagan appointed as Governor, as well as
confronted Reagan with an extreme statement that Reagan made about the
Vietnam War (I think it was Reagan’s statement that “we could pave
the whole country and put parking stripes on it and still be home by
Christmas”). Wallace acknowledged in retrospect that he was a
little unfair to do that, since a lot of people made dumb remarks during
the Vietnam War! When Wallace took a break from the interview, Nancy
asked him why he was being so tough on Ronnie when she thought he was
their friend, and Ronald Reagan stood near her looking disapprovingly at
Mike. Mike told them that he was just doing his job, and that he
wasn’t trying to be mean!
6. In a Mike Wallace book that I was looking through, Wallace said
that he knew he had someone on the ropes when the interviewee kept
saying Mike’s name. “Mike.” “Mike.”
7. Mike Wallace in 1979 was interviewing the Ayatollah Khomeini of
Iran, which probably took a lot of courage, considering how intimidating
the Ayatollah looked. Wallace challenged Khomeini with a statement by
Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, whom Wallace called a devout Muslim.
Essentially, Sadat said that the Ayatollah Khomeini was a lunatic. A
few years later, Sadat was assassinated.
8. I remember Wallace interviewing an author who was claiming that
Abraham Lincoln was gay. I recall Mike having an odd expression on his
face when the author was saying that, as if Wallace were skeptical. But
maybe I was reading too much into Wallace’s facial expression! (This article goes into Mike Wallace's views on homosexuality. If you read it, be sure to read the whole thing.)
9. I recall seeing Mike Wallace in the 1957 movie, A Face in the Crowd, in which Andy Griffith plays a power-hungry guy who gets a TV show and works with the right-wing.
10. I’d like to watch sometime Mike Wallace’s 1959 interview with Ayn Rand (see here). Both were tough cookies!
R.I.P. Mike Wallace.