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In a career spanning six decades, CBS veteran journalist Mike Wallace asked tough questions and inspired many who followed in his footsteps. After his death at the age of 93 Saturday, journalists expressed their admiration for the iconic newsperson.
“He asked the Ayatollah Khoumeini if he were crazy,” Safer said. “He traveled with Martin Luther King (whom Wallace called his hero). He grappled with Louis Farrakhan. And he interviewed Malcolm X shortly before his assassination.”
ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer released a statement about her former 60 Minutes colleague, writing: “Mike’s energy and nerve paced everyone at Sixty Minutes. His was the defining spirit of the show. He bounded through the halls with joy at the prospect of the new, the true, the unexpected.”
CNN’s Anderson Cooper tweeted: “Just heard of the death of Mike Wallace. A true original. What an amazing career and remarkable man.”
In a phone interview with Fox News, the network’s President Roger Ailes said Wallace was “a bit of a controversial character throughout his career,” and was “one of the toughest interviews.” Ailes said Wallace “will always be in the pantheon of greats in television and journalism.”
Ailes revealed that President Richard Nixon, who was notoriously suspicious of the press, once told him “that guy Wallace is okay.” Ailes believes it is because Wallace once escorted First Lady Pat Nixon away from a pack of questioning journalists, an act the president saw as a kindness.
Among the journalists Wallace inspired was his son, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace. ABC Correspondent Jake Tapper expressed his support for the younger Wallace, tweeting: “my deepest condolences to my friends at @CBS and to Chris Wallace of @FoxNewsSunday on the passing of his father, Mike Wallace.”
ABC News President Ben Sherwood called Wallace an “intrepid journalist” who used television “to powerful ends.” Sherwood continued: “Every Sunday night America tuned in to see what questions he would ask and who would be exposed to his hard charging quest for the truth. Mike’s tough questioning inspired generations of journalists. Our thoughts are with our former colleague Chris and his entire family.”
20/20 co-anchor Chris Cuomo noted the news came on Easter Sunday, tweeting: “On a day of re-birth…sad news. Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes fame has passed. Hopefully his legacy of asking tough questions lives on.”
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, whom Wallace profiled in 2007, remembered the journalist as someone with “integrity, charm, character.”
Bravo’s Andy Cohen called Wallace an “incredible reporter,” writing “we need more like him.”
Piers Morgan Tonight Producer Jonathan Wald marveled at Wallace’s storied career, tweeting: “Mike Wallace never seemed to age on tv and his work was timeless. They don’t make careers like that anymore.”
CBS announced Sunday it will air a special on Wallace’s career April 15, where his admirers and colleagues will undoubtedly have more to say.
Watch Safer’s tribute below.
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