April 12, 2012 5:09am PT by Erin Carlson
CBS News Chief Jeff Fager Pays Tribute to Mike Wallace (Video)
Jeff Fager, CBS News chairman and executive producer of 60 Minutes, honors Mike Wallace in a manner the brash late newsman would have appreciated: with the unvarnished truth.
"You can't really compare anybody to him because he was that unique," Fager said Wednesday night at the party for THR's 35 Most Powerful People in Media. "He was tough. I mean, he was a prick. In person too. And that's what we loved about him. Everything he felt, (it) just came right out of him. And he was a wonderful reporter who really just wanted to get to the truth. That was his motivating role in life. 'Just get me to the truth,' and one way or the other, he found out. He got to the truth."
The legendary 60 Minutes correspondent died Saturday at the age of 93, drawing a groundswell of tributes from colleague Leslie Stahl to son (and Fox News anchor) Chris Wallace and many more.
"We've been distracted this week because Mike Wallace died, so that's been the focus of all my attention," Fager said. "Talk about a powerhouse. I mean, that's a guy who had an impact. A big impact. Wonderful man."
Fager, honored among THR's most media-powerful along with CBS' Steve Kroft and other TV luminaries, said Wallace is "right up there in an elite list with very few people -- Walter Cronkite, (and) at CBS News, certainly Ed Murrow. That's how big Mike was. 60 Minutes wouldn't exist if it wasn't for Mike Wallace."
Wallace, who made a name through his aggressive, pull-no-punches reporting style, leaves behind a legacy of storied sitdowns with the rich, powerful and infamous. He was the first correspondent hired at 60 Minutes, where he interviewed everyone from the Ayatollah Khomeini to Barbara Streisand, asking the former if he were crazy and making the latter cry.