Sunday, April 8, 2012

10 Significant Mike Wallace Moments

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.

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