URL to article: http://frontpagemag.com/2012/04/13/remembering-mike-wallace/
Was there anyone who more surely embodied everything unpalatable about the traditional news media?…
Channel surfing the other night, I ran across All the President’s Men for what felt like the thousandth time. I came in about twenty minutes before the end, and – not for the first time – I felt compelled to watch it to the end. What a splendidly written, brilliantly directed, terrifically acted movie! What a stirring story! What a beautiful piece of filmmaking, from the cinematography to the lighting design! And what a crock!
All the President’s Men converted a generation of innocent, impressionable, pre-Internet Americans – myself included – into unthinking fans of the mainstream news media. Some people in the government might be out to screw us over, and certainly every last man and woman in corporate America was up to no good, but the knights in shining armor at the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the network news divisions were there to come to our rescue – to save our freedoms and preserve our Constitution, wielding the truth like a shining sword.
As I watched Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, in the last shot of the film, taking down Richard M. Nixon one typewriter keystroke at a time, my thoughts naturally turned to Mike Wallace, who since his death the other day at the age of 285 – sorry, 93 – has been celebrated by many commentators as the quintessential embodiment of the crusading, principled, virtuous mainstream news media in its now-bygone, widely lamented heyday. His death, indeed, has provided his colleagues in the traditional media with a magnificent opportunity – which many of them, of course, have seized upon – to try to resurrect the heroic myth perpetrated by All the President’s Men and many other films. (Remember, for example, another Redford film from 1976, Three Days of the Condor, in which he’s betrayed and hunted down by the CIA and ends up, incriminating evidence finally in hand, at the entrance to the New York Times building, the logo of that newspaper symbolizing his, and justice’s, salvation?) A typical posthumous tribute to Wallace in the Washington Post began as follows: “Mike Wallace had a glorious career at CBS, racking up 21 Emmy awards and an endless reel of great interviewing moments. And to think that this fantastic career….” Check, please!