Mike Wallace, the legend at 60 MINUTES died this past weekend. He was 93. But, many people don’t realize that Mike Wallace was also a big fan of President Nixon and was even offered the press secretary position by the president. Wallace really wanted that job, but also had the opportunity at CBS to do the new 60 MINUTES news show. Wallace eventually chose to go with the CBS job. With so many perceived anti-Vietnam War stories that were run over on CBS News, some people believed that a liberal bias might have existed at the network, so Mike Wallace’s love for the former president might come as a bit of a surprise to many persons.
Nixon was an interesting and controversial president even before he completely disgraced himself with his own involvement in the Watergate scandal mess. He was the former two-term vice president under the popular president and general, Dwight Eisenhower. Eisenhower was the first Republican to break a long rule of the Democrats at the White House that extended from the early days of cleaning up the mess of the Great Depression, to leading America through both WWII and the Korean War. Nixon was known for standing up to tough to cold war rivals like Nikita Khrushchev. But, some like Harry Truman didn’t like Nixon much, whom he referred to as a “shifty-eyed Goddamn liar”. But, outside of the late President John F. Kennedy, Nixon was viewed as one of the most skillful politicians of the 1960’s, until Watergate ruined that reputation and Nixon resigned as one of the most hated politicians of all time. And, although he moved the Supreme Court in a direction not conducive to civil liberties or other things, he did promote open relations with China, where China is now one America’s best trading partners and mostly a friend in the world now, and other notable achievements. Nixon was a real mixed bag of much progress on one hand, but other less good elements in abundance as well. Wallace probably was wise not to associate himself so closely with such an administration. Wallace made a worthy decision not to publicly proclaim his politics, and to appear to be more objective for his new story coverage. He was always one of the very best journalists ever.
Wallace also proved that a really well crafted prime time news program like 60 MINUTES could work as entertainment on the ratings hot Sunday night schedule. 60 MINUTES has had an enduring quality for decades now, although most original cast members have either moved on to retirement or even death.
It’s hard to believe that Mike Wallace is gone. I don’t think he wants to accept that either. My best guess is that his ghost still shows up for work at 60 MINUTES to do the show, refusing to accept death, because there’s always that next big news story that only he can manage to cover so well. He was just that good. Evil doers would shake in their boots at the mere mention of the these words, “I’m Mike Wallace”. Mike Wallace kept the evil doers honest, and righted wrongs with his blunt and honest journalism.
Mike Wallace did leave us with a very good newscaster son, Chris Wallace, who works for FOX. And Mike Wallace even wrote an inspirational article for the Christian magazine founded by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, GUIDEPOSTS, even though he himself was Jewish. Wallace did overcome a period of depression to make it to the ripe old age of 93, never really seeming to slow down with his workload until retirement from 60 MINUTES only a few years ago. No modern journalist can compare to Mike Wallace. He was the top of his field.