Tag Archive: CBS

  • FILE - This May 8, 2006 file photo shows Mike Wallace, longtime CBS "60 Minutes" correspondent, during an interview at his office in New York. Wallace, famed for his tough interviews on "60 Minutes," has died, Saturday, April 7, 2012. He was 93. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)FILE – This May 8, 2006 file photo …
  • This May 8, 2006 file photo shows Mike Wallace, veteran CBS " 60 Minutes" correspondent, waiting in a hallway near his office to see a colleague in New York, Monday May 8, 2006. Wallace, famed for his tough interviews on "60 Minutes," has died, Saturday, April 7, 2012. He was 93. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)This May 8, 2006 file photo shows …

NEW YORK (AP) — Mike Wallace didn’t interview people. He interrogated them. He cross-examined them. Sometimes he eviscerated them.

His reputation was so fearsome that it was often said that the scariest words in the English language were “Mike Wallace is here to see you.”

Wallace, whose pitiless, prosecutorial style transformed television journalism and made “60 Minutes” compulsively watchable, died Saturday night at a care facility in New Canaan, Conn., where he had lived in recent years, CBS spokesman Kevin Tedesco said. He was 93.

Until he was slowed by heart surgery as he neared his 90th birthday in 2008, Wallace continued making news, doing “60 Minutes” interviews with such subjects as Jack Kevorkian and Roger Clemens. He had promised to still do occasional reports when he announced his retirement as a correspondent in 2006.

Wallace, whose career spanned 60 years, said then that he had long vowed to retire “when my toes turn up” and “they’re just beginning to curl a trifle. … It’s become apparent to me that my eyes and ears, among other appurtenances, aren’t quite what they used to be.”

Among his later contributions, after bowing out as a regular, was a 2007 profile of GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, and an interview with Kevorkian, the assisted suicide doctor released from prison in 2007 who died last year.

In December 2007, Wallace landed the first interview with Clemens after the star pitcher was implicated in the Mitchell report on performance enhancing drugs in baseball. The interview, in which Clemens maintained his innocence, was broadcast in early 2008.

Wallace’s “extraordinary contribution as a broadcaster is immeasurable and he has been a force within the television industry throughout its existence,” Leslie Moonves, CBS Corp. president and CEO, said in a statement Sunday.

Wallace was the first man hired when late CBS news producer Don Hewitt put together the staff of “60 Minutes” at its inception in 1968. The show wasn’t a hit at first, but it worked its way up to the top 10 in the 1977-78 season and remained there, season after season, with Wallace as one of its mainstays. Among other things, it proved there could be big profits in TV journalism.

The top 10 streak was broken in 2001, in part due to the onset of huge-drawing rated reality shows. But “60 Minutes” remained in the top 25 in recent years, ranking 15th in viewers in the 2010-11 season.

The show pioneered the use of “ambush interviews,” with reporter and camera crew corralling alleged wrongdoers in parking lots, hallways, wherever a comment — or at least a stricken expression — might be harvested from someone dodging the reporters’ phone calls.

Such tactics were phased out over time — Wallace said they provided drama but not much good information.

And his style never was all about surprise, anyway. Wallace was a master of the skeptical follow-up question, coaxing his prey with a “forgive me, but …” or a simple, “come on.” He was known as one who did his homework, spending hours preparing for interviews, and alongside the exposes, “60 Minutes” featured insightful talks with celebrities and world leaders.

He was equally tough on public and private behavior. In 1973, with the Watergate scandal growing, he sat with top Nixon aide John Ehrlichman and read a long list of alleged crimes, from money laundering to obstructing justice. “All of this,” Wallace noted, “by the law and order administration of Richard Nixon.”

The surly Ehrlichman could only respond: “Is there a question in there somewhere?”

In the early 1990s, Wallace reduced Barbra Streisand to tears as he scolded her for being “totally self-absorbed” when she was young and mocked her decades of psychoanalysis. “What is it she is trying to find out that takes 20 years?” Wallace said he wondered.

“I’m a slow learner,” Streisand told him.

His late colleague Harry Reasoner once said, “There is one thing that Mike can do better than anybody else: With an angelic smile, he can ask a question that would get anyone else smashed in the face.”

Wallace said he didn’t think he had an unfair advantage over his interview subjects: “The person I’m interviewing has not been subpoenaed. He’s in charge of himself, and he lives with his subject matter every day. All I’m armed with is research.”

Wallace himself became a dramatic character in several projects, from the stage version of “Frost/Nixon,” when he was played by Stephen Rowe, to the 1999 film “The Insider,” based in part on a 1995 “60 Minutes” story about tobacco industry whistle-blower Jeffrey Wigand, who accused Brown & Williamson of intentionally adding nicotine to cigarettes. Christopher Plummer starred as Wallace and Russell Crowe as Wigand. Wallace was unhappy with the film, in which he was portrayed as caving to pressure to kill a story about Wigand.

Operating on a tip, The New York Times reported that “60 Minutes” planned to excise Wigand’s interview from its tobacco expose. CBS said Wigand had signed a nondisclosure agreement with his former company, and the network feared that by airing what he had to say, “60 Minutes” could be sued along with him.

The day the Times story appeared, Wallace downplayed the gutted story as “a momentary setback.” He soon sharpened his tone. Leading into the revised report when it aired, he made no bones that “we cannot broadcast what critical information about tobacco, addiction and public health (Wigand) might be able to offer.” Then, in a “personal note,” he told viewers that he and his “60 Minutes” colleagues were “dismayed that the management at CBS had seen fit to give in to perceived threats of legal action.”

The full report eventually was broadcast.

Wallace maintained a hectic pace after CBS waived its long-standing rule requiring broadcasters to retire at 65. In early 1999, at age 80, he added another line to his resume by appearing on the network’s spinoff, “60 Minutes II.” (A similar concession was granted Wallace’s longtime colleague, Don Hewitt, who in 2004, at age 81, relinquished his reins as executive producer; he died in 2009.)

Wallace amassed 21 Emmy awards during his career, as well as five DuPont-Columbia journalism and five Peabody awards.

In all, his television career spanned six decades, much of it spent at CBS. In 1949, he appeared asMyron Wallace in a show called “Majority Rules.” In the early 1950s, he was an announcer and game show host for programs such as “What’s in a Word?” He also found time to act in a 1954 Broadway play, “Reclining Figure,” directed by Abe Burrows.

In the mid-1950s came his smoke-wreathed “Night Beat,” a series of one-on-one interviews with everyone from an elderly Frank Lloyd Wright to a young Henry Kissinger that began on local TV in New York and then appeared on the ABC network. It was the show that first brought Wallace fame as a hard-boiled interviewer, a “Mike Malice” who rarely gave his subjects any slack.

Wrote Coronet magazine in 1957: “Wallace’s interrogation had the intensity of a third degree, often the candor of a psychoanalytic session. Nothing like it had ever been known on TV. … To Wallace, no guest is sacred, and he frankly dotes on controversy.”

Sample “Night Beat” exchange, with colorful restaurateur Toots Shor. Wallace: “Toots, why do people call you a slob?” Shor: “Me? Jiminy crickets, they musta been talking about Jackie Gleason.”

In those days, Wallace said, “interviews by and large were virtual minuets. … Nobody dogged, nobody pushed.” He said that was why “Night Beat” ”got attention that hadn’t been given to interview broadcasts before.”

It was also around then that Wallace did a bit as a TV newsman in the 1957 Hollywood drama “A Face in the Crowd,” which starred Andy Griffith as a small-town Southerner who becomes a political phenomenon through his folksy television appearances. Two years later, Wallace helped create “The Hate That Hate Produced,” a highly charged program about the Nation of Islam that helped make a national celebrity out of Malcolm X and was later criticized as biased and inflammatory.

After holding a variety of other news and entertainment jobs, including serving as advertising pitchman for a cigarette brand, Wallace became a full-time newsman for CBS in 1963.

He said it was the death of his 19-year-old son, Peter, in an accident in 1962 that made him decide to stick to serious journalism from then on. (Another son, Chris, followed his father and became a broadcast journalist, most recently as a Fox News Channel anchor.)

Wallace had a short stint reporting from Vietnam, and took a sock in the jaw while covering the tumultuous 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. But he didn’t fit the stereotype of the Eastern liberal journalist. He was a close friend of the Reagans and was once offered the job of Richard Nixon’s press secretary. He called his politics moderate.

One “Night Beat” interview resulted in a libel suit, filed by a police official angry over remarks about him by mobster Mickey Cohen. Wallace said ABC settled the lawsuit for $44,000, and called it the only time money had been paid to a plaintiff in a suit in which he was involved.

The most publicized lawsuit against him was by retired Gen. William C. Westmoreland, who sought $120 million for a 1982 “CBS Reports” documentary, “The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception.” Westmoreland dropped the libel suit in 1985 after a long trial. Lawyers for each side later said legal costs of the suit totaled $12 million, of which $9 million was paid by CBS.

Wallace once said the case brought on depression that put him in the hospital for more than a week. “Imagine sitting day after day in the courtroom hearing yourself called every vile name imaginable,” he said.

In 1996, he appeared before the Senate’s Special Committee on Aging to urge more federal funds for depression research, saying that he had felt “lower, lower, lower than a snake’s belly” but had recovered through psychiatry and antidepressant drugs. He later disclosed that he once tried to commit suicide during that dark period. Wallace, columnist Art Buchwald and author William Styron were friends who commiserated often enough about depression to call themselves “The Blues Brothers,” according to a 2011 memoir by Styron’s daughter, Alexandra.

Wallace called his 1984 book, written with Gary Paul Gates, “Close Encounters.” He described it as “one mostly lucky man’s encounters with growing up professionally.”

In 2005, he brought out his memoir, “Between You and Me.”

Among those interviewing him about the book was son Chris, for “Fox News Sunday.” His son asked: Does he understand why people feel a disaffection from the mainstream media?

“They think they’re wide-eyed commies. Liberals,” the elder Wallace replied, a notion he dismissed as “damned foolishness.”

Wallace was born Myron Wallace on May 9, 1918, in Brookline, Mass. He began his news career in Chicago in the 1940s, first as radio news writer for the Chicago Sun and then as reporter for WMAQ. He started at CBS in 1951.

He was married four times. In 1986, he wed Mary Yates Wallace, the widow of his close friend and colleague, Ted Yates, who had died in 1967. Besides his wife, Wallace is survived by his son, Chris, a stepdaughter, Pauline Dora, and stepson Eames Yates. His wife declined to comment Sunday.


Associated Press writer Deepti Hajela, former Associated Press writer Polly Anderson and National Writer Hillel Italie contributed to this report.

Christine Lagarde Christine Lagarde said austerity was only one of the measures needed to overcome the debt crisis

Inappropriate spending cuts could “strangle” growth prospects, the head of the IMF has warned.

Austerity programmes must be tailored to each economy, Christine Lagarde said, and not be “across the board”.

The International Monetary Fund has been one of those stressing the need for countries to cut their debts, but some fear this could hit growth.

The correct response to the eurozone debt crisis has been a major debate at World Economic Forum in Davos.

“We are not suggesting there should be fiscal consolidation across the board,” Ms Lagarde stressed.

“Some countries have to go full-speed ahead to do this fiscal consolidation, but other countries have space and room. They should explore what to do… in order to help themselves.

“It has to be tailor-made.”

One of those expressing concerns about the possible implications of fiscal consolidation at the gathering at the Swiss ski resort was US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

He told the annual meeting of political and business leaders on Friday that there was a risk of a recessionary “cycle” from austerity measures.

“There is a risk that every disappointment in growth will be met with an austerity that will feed the decline, and that is a cycle you have to arrest to solve financial crises,” Mr Geithner said.

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George Soros has warned that Europe is likely to face a “lost decade”


Crisis-hit countries such as Greece and Spain are implementing deep government spending cuts and raising taxes in order to try to bring down their deficits.

“For parts of Europe for a long time, there will be no alternative to very substantial adjustment in budget deficits,” Mr Geithner said.

He is one of a number of leaders who have said this week that the deficit-cutting measures have been an important step in addressing the eurozone debt crisis.

Ms Lagarde echoed those on Saturday: “There is work under way. There is progress, as we see it,”

But some see these policies as potentially very damaging. Financier George Soros told the BBC that the fiscal cuts, which Germany supports, could even lead to a “lost decade” of economic stagnation in Europe.

“This German insistence on austerity could destroy the European Union,” he said. “This is reality, this is the harsh reality that we need to face.

“It is not written in stone, the future is not predetermined. We determine the future, so it would be well within the possibilities of the authorities to change it.”

A document, reportedly leaked to the Financial Times, has suggested that Germany could be asking for Greece to do more, including giving up the financial control of its tax and spending decisions to an administrator appointed by Brussels.


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For the first time in a while leaders meeting here don’t seem to be stalked by the fear that the eurozone might blow up”

image of Stephanie Flanders Stephanie Flanders Economics editor, BBC News, Davos

Austerity is only one part of the solution, Christine Lagarde said.

She, and others on the panel, stressed the importance of reinforcing what is being referred to as the “firewall”, a much-expanded rescue fund made up of funds pledged by eurozone members.

“It is critical that the eurozone members actually develop a clear, simple, firewall that can operate both to limit the contagion and to provide this sort of act of trust in the eurozone so that the financing needs of that zone can actually be met,” she said.

The IMF managing director also spoke of the hundreds of billions of dollars of extra funds she wants to raise to support any crisis-hit countries, especially if a economic downturn takes hold.

Holding up her designer handbag she said: “I am here with my little bag to collect a bit of money.”

“There will be needs in the eurozone, no doubt about it, but in central and eastern Europe there will be needs as well. And in other countries including in low income countries, including in middle income countries, there will be needs. Short term for some, long term for others.”

The UK has been one of those resistant to pledging extra funds for the IMF to help eurozone countries, but there have been indications in recent days that its stance is softening.

“I think there is a case for increasing IMF resources and I think that will also be a way of demonstrating that the world wants to help… solve the world’s problems,” UK Chancellor George Osborne told the Davos audience.

But, like his US counterpart Tim Geither, he said any additional help would be conditional upon Eurozone countries demonstrating they were doing all they could do help fellow members.

“There aren’t going to be further contributions to the IMF from other G20 countries, including Britain, unless we see the colour of their money, and I think that’s a reasonable request.”

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Insider’s guide: Why business leaders go to Davos

Debt deal

For the first time in a while, leaders meeting in Davos don’t seem to be stalked by the fear that the eurozone might blow up, the BBC’s economics editor Stephanie Flanders reports.

But many of the sessions have been discussing what still needs to be done.

“The fact that we’re still, at the beginning of 2012, talking about Greece – again – is a sign that this problem has not been dealt with,” George Osborne said.

“The danger here is that the tail wags the dog throughout this crisis. In other words, the inability to deal with specific problems with the periphery causes shock waves across the whole European economy and the world economy,” he added.

Talks reconvened on Saturday between the Greek government and representatives of its private creditors, including banks and hedge funds.

It is hoped that a deal to renegotiate the country’s debt can be concluded before a meeting of the European Council on Monday. An agreement is a precondition for receiving further bailout funds from European authorities and the IMF.

“Concluding the deal that will lead to a more sustainable situation in Greece, I think actually is fundamental to stability in the Eurozone,” Mr Osborne said.

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Davos 2012

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk to the White House on 14 December 2011
Michelle Obama said it would not surprise her if the president relayed her thoughts to staff

US First Lady Michelle Obama has challenged a new book’s account of her role in the White House, saying critics have long attempted to portray her as “some kind of angry black woman”.

The Obamas, by New York Times reporter Jody Kantor, portrays her as a behind-the-scenes force in the White House.

It also describes tensions between her and ex-chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.

In an interview with CBS News, Mrs Obama said she loved being First Lady, but had concerns for her two daughters.

Mrs Obama said Mr Emanuel, who left the White House a year ago and is now mayor of Chicago, was a dear friend who she “never had a cross word” with.

While she pushed back against the notion she sits in political meetings, Mrs Obama did not deny being an important voice to her husband.

“I am his biggest ally,” Mrs Obama said. “I am one of his biggest confidants. But he has dozens of really smart people who surround him. That’s not to say that we don’t have discussions and conversations.

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Review of The Obamas

In the opening pages of The Obamas, Kantor sets out the terms of her project: “In public, they smiled and waved, but how were the Obamas really reacting to the White House, and how was it affecting the rest of us?” The questions are at once labored and absurd. The state of a marriage is a poor guide to the course of a presidency.

David Remnick, The New Yorker

“I guess it’s more interesting to imagine this conflicted situation here and a strong woman. But that’s been an image that people have tried to paint of me since the day Barack announced [he would run for president] – that I’m some angry black woman,” she said.

“I just try to be me. And my hope is that over time people get to know me,” she told CBS. “And they get to judge me for me.”

She told CBS that she had not read the book, or similar reports.

Neither Obama granted an interview for the book, but Ms Kantor said that she had based her accounts on interviews with both current and former White House staff.

“It’s a game, in so many ways, that doesn’t fit,” Mrs Obama said. “Who can write about what I feel? What third person can tell me what I feel?”

If conflicts do arise, she said, communication happens between the two staffs at the White House – Mr Obama’s in the West Wing and Mrs Obama’s in the East Wing.

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