Mike Wallace, the legendary newsman, died Saturday night at the age of 93. He died in New Canaan, CT, surrounded by family.
If Mike Wallace ever asked to interview me, I would run in the other direction. To use a term that we toss around these days, Mike Wallace was a beast. He was to controversial interviews what Dale Earnhardt was to stock car racing.
Mike Wallace was one of the founders of the longtime running CBS news program, 60 Minutes. The show has become a rite of passage from young adulthood into mature adulthood. And without Mike Wallace, 60 Minutes simply would not have sustained. Of course, that’s the opinion of a Gen-X-er who only began to enjoy Wallace a couple of years before he retired from his 60 Minutes throw downs–Wallace retired in 2006.
A couple of interviews stick out in my mind. Most recently, when Wallace sat down with Roger Clemens in 2008, just before Roger was fire tested and began to fade into oblivion. 10 years earlier he sat down with Jack Kevorkian, aka Dr. Death–within the interview there was actual footage of Kevorkian administering a lethal injection process to one of his assisted suicide patients.
There wasn’t anyone who Wallace was afraid to sit down with, and there wasn’t a question that he was afraid to ask. He came at his subjects like a linebacker. It’s obvious Matt Lauer, as well as many other news and talk show hosts were greatly influenced by Wallace’s style, yet all the imitation leaves nothing close to a second generation duplication.
Mr. Wallace, you will be greatly missed.