Probably anyone who’s my age (52 for folks who absolutely must know) can trace any interest in journalism on some level to Mike Wallace, who defined the TV news interview for generations of reporters who would follow. Wallace, who died late Satuday at age 93, came into American homes every Sunday for decades via “60 Minutes,” a now iconic show that defied the odds then and every year it endures.
And it endures and endures. The truth is, when first produced, CBS had no idea a weekly newsmagazine series could not only work, but be a hit. In fact, they were pretty sure it would fail.
Its success can be directly traced to the pioneering work of Mike Wallace who begat those who do the job today.
Some called his style abrasive. Some bemoaned his ambush interviewing style. But no one would say he didn’t get results. Personally, I never thought of Wallace as abrasive at all. He was almost always polite and professional. The ambush part is open to interpretation. But when he nailed anyone from lying political power players and shady business operators to con men or medical charlatans, it was damned hard not to cheer him on.
We watched him and his colleagues — Morley Safer, Harry Reasoner and the others each and every week in our household. It was must-see TV for my dad — and by extension his sons. Over the years Mike Wallace had too many memorable moments to count. One, of course, was his interview with Army Gen. William Westmoreland. My personal favorite, though, was when Wallace confronted shady auto mechanics set up along interstate highways.
Ahhh, TV journalism memories. There are few that newspaper people savor. Mike Wallace or “60 Minutes” might factor into every single one.
As a salute to Mike Wallace, I’ve compiled some editorial cartoons about his passing. .
By David Fitzsimmons of the Arizona Star.
By John Dankow of the Columbia Daily Tribune in Missouri.
Taylor Jones of politicalcartooons.com with a little yin and yang of the Wallace legacy. Two looks by the same artist.
By Milt Priggee.