Mike Wallace, who passed away Saturday night, was the lion of broadcast news who led the incomparable team at 60 Minutes for 40 years.
He was the man who invented the modern ambush interview, appearing suddenly from behind a potted plant or unannounced at the front door of an unsuspecting corrupt politician or greedy businessman.
He was an all around class act, who made the mold for investigative reporters like me who tried to follow in his footsteps.
He was dogged, thorough, tenacious, inventive, creative, and unafraid whether taking on the Ayatollah Khomeini during the 1979 hostage crisis or big tobacco when it was really big and untouchable and knowingly killing millions from cancer.
With his wonderful wife Mary and her kids Pauline, Aames, and Angus who survive him, along with his son Chris Wallace, my colleague now at Fox News, Mike was always gracious and welcoming to me and my family, which meant a lot to someone who always considered himself an outsider in the news business.
I remember what a thrill it was when we shared the cover of TV Guide back in 1983.
Mike also had the same kind of checkered professional past I do---once hosting talk shows and game shows and other light stuff frowned on by the heavy news establishment. But for 60 years he ignored the critics and kept pushing ahead, doing the stories others wished they could do, about topics like Watergate and interviews with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King and Putin of Russia.
He made a couple of mistakes along the way, with General William Westmoreland and a couple of other incidents, but who doesn’t occasionally underreport or overstate? And far more often, he did wonderful work, as reflected in his twenty Emmy awards.
He was 93 was he passed, and as the special edition of ’60 Minutes’ planned for next Sunday will make clear, Mike Wallace had one of the greatest runs in broadcast history.