“I’m Mike Wallace.”

“I’m Harry Reasoner.”

“I’m Dan Rather.  Those stories and more, tonight on 60 Minutes.”

Of those three groundbreaking journalists who, along with producer Don Hewitt, founded the television news magazine, 60 Minutes, only Dan Rather is left.  Charles Osgood announced the loss of Wallace this morning in a late interstitial segment of CBS Sunday Morning, a couple hours ago.

And yeah, it startled me, as surely as it startled a lot of other people, in and out of the news world.  Mike Wallace as an investigative news reporter was astonishing, thorough, fair but utterly tenacious in pursuit of a story, whether he was interviewing Ayatollah Ruhallah Khomeini or a used-car salesman who indulged in turning back odometers on his inventory.  He spoke with people as disparate as Rod Serling on the eve of the premiere of a new series, called The Twilight Zone and singing powerhouse Tina Turner.  Wallace interviewed Malcolm X hardly days before his assassination and traded verbal shots with Louis Farrakhan.  Wallace’s interviews could be entertaining, informative or both.  They were never dull.

Certainly, 60 Minutes has carried on the tradition of Wallace’s style of journalism begun by Wallace and Reasoner and Rather; the show remains both respectable and formidable over 40 years from its first broadcast.  Yet Mike Wallace brought something special to it, something notable and unique, perhaps because he was among the first to bring such a bulldog-tenacity to any interview with him.  I know I liked watching and listening to him.  I missed him when he retired from regular participation in 60 Minutes, and more than once would observe some less-than-honest news maker on the tube and muse to myself, “Boy, I would love to see Wallace tackle THIS turkey!”

And now he’s gone … and life will go on, of course … which changes not in the slightest how much I will miss the tone of his voice and the incisiveness of his questions and the joy I gained from watching and listening to the handiwork of a truly skilled and talented news reporter.

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Investigative reporters like Mike Wallace are truly the last of a dying breed from a bygone era long ago.  These people had well-earned respect and credibility across the whole spectrum of society.  They asked the hard questions that needed to be asked and held no punches.  It's a travesty that our current news media operates in such a deplorable manner.  Unfortunately, I don't believe we can ever return to the days of Mike Wallace when the media performed with such a high level of integrity.

Here is a tribute to Mike Wallace, assembled by his long-time associate and friend, Morley Safer

I didn't know he was an atheist, …wow.

I never said he WAS an atheist ... but he WAS a significant investigative news reporter, one I admired a LOT, and I thought his passing was worthy of note.

Sorry, I wasn't trying to imply that you "said" he was, I just assumed he was considering the group. No harm.

Too bad Andy Rooney didn't have that influence on him.

Hmph ... didn't know Andy was an atheist ... though his irascible attitude could be taken as such.  Did Andy ever actually come out?

Oh yes, very much so, …and often.

“Why am I an atheist? I ask you: Why is anybody not an atheist? Everyone starts out being an atheist. No one is born with belief in anything. Infants are atheists until they are indoctrinated. I resent anyone pushing their religion on me. I don’t push my atheism on anybody else. Live and let live. Not many people practice that when it comes to religion.”  Boston Globe, 30 May 1982

“I am an atheist… I don’t understand religion at all. I’m sure I’ll offend a lot of people by saying this, but I think it’s all nonsense.” From a speech at Tufts University, Nov. 18, 2004.

“I don’t differentiate much, except in degree, between people who believe in religion from those who believe in astrology, magic or the supernatural.”

“We all ought to understand we’re on our own. Believing in Santa Claus doesn’t do kids any harm for a few years but it isn’t smart for them to continue waiting all their lives for him to come down the chimney with something wonderful. Santa Claus and God are cousins.”

“I just wish this social institution [religion] wasn’t based on what appears to me to be a monumental hoax built on an accumulation of customs and myths directed toward proving something that isn’t true.”

“Christians talk as though goodness was their idea but good behavior doesn’t have any religious origin. Our prisons are filled with the devout.”

“I’d be more willing to accept religion, even if I didn’t believe it, if I thought it made people nicer to each other but I don’t think it does.”

~ Andy Rooney

Well, far freaking out!  Learn something new every day!




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