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Author Reveals A Softer Side To CBS Newsman Mike Wallace
Originally published on Mon April 9, 2012 1:20 pm
Remembrances of legendary CBS newsman and long-time 60 Minutes co-host Mike Wallace were still pouring in after his death over the weekend. Wallace died at age 93.
Jeff Fager, the chairman of CBS News and 60 Minutes executive producer, said of the famously hard-nosed interviewer that "He loved the fact that if he showed up for an interview, it made people nervous."
Former first lady Nancy Reagan called him "an old school journalist and one of the most astute people I've met."
60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer said of Wallace that he "took to heart the old reporter's pledge to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."
But Todd Richissin, writing for The Huffington Post, offers up a contrast to Wallace's take-no-prisoners public image. Richissin, who interviewed Wallace and his son, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, for a book titled Fathers & Sons, relates the elder Wallace telling the story of another son, Peter, who died in a climbing accident in 1962 at age 19:
During our interview, with Chris at his side, Mike recounted how he hadn't heard from Peter, who had been hiking around Europe, so he tracked down the youth hostel where he'd been staying. People there told him Peter had planned to climb a mountain near the Gulf of Corinth.
So, Mike hired a guide and a donkey and found himself riding to the top of a cliff.
I could see pain appearing on Mike Wallace's face as he recounted this story, and I could have interjected something, anything, to ease things for him just a bit, but I didn't. I'm not sorry for that. It helped me get to know him.
"We sat down to catch our breath, and we're sitting there like this," Mike Wallace told me, hunched over, forearms on his knees. "I looked down, and about 150 feet down we saw somebody — and there he was."
That's when his eyes started to well a bit, which I'm counting as crying, because I know that Mike Wallace will be remembered mostly as the granite-nosed, zero-nonsense, "Give me a break!" tough guy, and by his signature emotion, outrage.