Photo: AP / Bebeto Matthews
When Mike Wallace passed away this weekend, we lost a journalism legend. The broadcast legend and “60 Minutes” host passed away Saturday April, 7 at the age of 93 in a New Canaan, Connecticut care facility.
For more than half of a decade, Wallace lit up the small screen with his in-depth investigative interviews. From celebrities Bette Davis, Johnny Carson and political figures, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, his four decades at CBS’ “60 Minutes” led to 21 Emmy Awards, with Wallace taking home his last at the age of 89.
Sometimes you wondered whether you were watching an interview or a cross-examination in a courthouse. The always infamous broadcaster pushed the boundaries of journalism by asking the questions no one else dared.
Next week’s “60 Minutes” plans to pay tribute to the broadcaster next Sunday. Today, We celebrate his life by taking a look at five of Wallace’s top interviews from the show, highlighting some of the toughest questions the journalist ventured to ask.
5. 1991: Barbra Streisand
During his interview with Streisand, Wallace insulted the singer telling her he didn’t like her 30 years ago because she was self-absorbed. Streisand holds her own despite appearing to simultaneously fight back tears and the urge to attack Wallace.
“20 to 30 years of psychoanalysis, I ask myself, what is she trying to learn?”
“I’m a slow learner.”
“How many years have you been in psycho therapy?”
4. 1979: Ayotollah Khomeini
Wallace asked Iran ruler Ayotollah Khomeini what he thought of Egyptian President calling him a “lunatic” and a “disgrace to Islam” in this brief clip.
3. June 8, 1964: Malcolm X
Wallace discusses invisible movements in the African American Harlem environment and the community’s hostility against policemen slightly before his assassination.
“Mr. Malcom, you have suggested that there are all sorts of movements in Harlem that we don’t know about? … banding together in what sorts of movements?”
2. March 22, 1998: Dr. Jack Kevorkian
CBS aired a controversial videotape in 1998 that showed Dr. Jack Kevorkian injecting terminally ill patient Thomas Youk who suffered from Lou Gehrig’s Disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
The segment, which lasted more than 13 minutes, was the first euthanasia telecast on any of the major networks. Many argued whether the “60 Minutes” presentation was done with the journalistic ideals of informing the public or solely to boast ratings.
Wallace: “You were engaged in a political, medical, macabre publicity venture, right?
Wallace: “And in watching these tapes, I feel there’s something almost ghoulish in your desire to see the deed done.”
Kevorkian: “Well, it could be, I can’t argue with that. Maybe it is ghoulish. I don’t know. It appears that way to you, I can’t criticise you for that. but the main point is the last part of your statement: that the deed be done.”
1. 1982: General William Westmoreland
Wallace caught General Westmoreland in a pickle when he revealed that Westmoreland chose not to inform Congress, the President or even the joint chiefs of staff of evidence collected by his intelligence chief of a larger enemy number during the Vietnam War.
When Wallace pressed why he didn’t share this information, why it would have been a political bombshell to reveal the information, Westmoreland retorted:
“The people in Washington were not sophisticated enough to understand and evaluate this thing and neither was the media.”
Westmoreland later sued Wallace and CBS for $120 million. The case was settled out of court, but not before losing CBS some of its accreditation and driving Wallace to a mental breakdown.
Mike Wallace’s 2006 interview with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad where the Iranian president continuously turns the tables on the journalist, including a moment where he questions whether he’s a representative of the zionist regime or a journalist?
We also recommend watching Wallace’s interview with “Brave New World” author, Aldous Huxley discussing the enemies of freedoms in the United States.
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