"60 Minutes" Correspondent Morley Safer Remembers Colleague Mike Wallace
Wallace, first correspondent hired for "60 Minutes," died on Saturday
NEW YORK - CBS and the world of journalism are mourning the death of Mike Wallace. The first correspondent ever hired for "60 Minutes" died Saturday night.
CBS correspondent Drew Levinson talked with one of Wallace’s longtime colleagues about his life and his impact.
His friend and 60 minutes colleague of 40 years Morley Safer last saw him a year and a half ago.
"He was the same old feisty Mike, (ahem) wonderfully aggressive wonderfully critical," Safer said.
Wallace's passing may have been quiet but his life as a journalist was anything but.
Wallace was a tenacious interviewer who backed away from nothing.
For example, in his interview with the Ayatollah Khomeini during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, Wallace quoted Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
"He calls you imam, forgive me – his words not mine – a lunatic," Wallace said to Khomeini.
Wallace helped pioneer the ambush interview.
"He loved villains; he loved going after them and once on the broadcast would eviscerate them," Safer said. "There is the joke that the worst thing anybody can hear is ‘Mike Wallace is here to see you.’ It was no joke, as you know from watching for four decades of ‘60 Minutes,’ people sometimes became catatonic when they saw him."
Wallace could irritate anyone including his boss Don Hewitt.
But Safer said there was a softness to him not seen on television.
"He was a very sensitive guy about all kinds of things he could be very sentimental.”
Sentimental, yes – but he'll be remembered for being the pit bull journalist he was, and those who knew him say that's the way he'd like it.
Wallace's last “60 Minutes” interview came in January of 2008 when he interviewed Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens about his alleged steroid use.
“60 Minutes” will dedicate its broadcast next Sunday night to Wallace.