Mike Wallace is Here

Walter Cronkite read a teleprompter. Dan Rather was a bagman for dirty tricks. Mike Wallace gave us a style of journalism that hit the fan…and it stung and stuck. Either he’s the last toughass muckraker or he sowed the seeds of fake news, but as he proclaims in director Avi Belkin’s docu-bio, “the press’s business is NOT to be loved!” Before there was “BREAKING NEWS” as we come on the air, the Edward R. Murrow school of double standard, “gotcha” reporting was solidified behind one man: Wallace. In his early TV programs, he interviewed 1950s newsmakers from Frank Lloyd Wright to Rod Serling and Mickey Cohen, eliminating decorum by asking insulting questions as though it was a professional courtesy. And as with Bill O’Reilly (who cites Wallace as the force behind his career!), the worst offense to Wallace was having an interviewee refuse to answer his questions, even when those questions were embedded with bias designed to incriminate people. After CBS bought the idea (stolen from Life magazine!) of news magazine 60 Minutes, Mike Wallace became the voice of authority with stories spotlighting Watergate, the cigarette industry, kiddie porn and General Westmoreland, who sued over the reporting of US casualty figures. If you’ve ever asked, “how did it come to this?” Mike Wallace invented tabloid journalism – for good or bad!