RIP, Mike Wallace — UPDATED

“All of us at CBS News and particularly at ’60 Minutes’ owe so much to Mike. Without him and his iconic style, there probably wouldn’t be a ’60 Minutes.’ There simply hasn’t been another broadcast journalist with that much talent. It almost didn’t matter what stories he was covering, you just wanted to hear what he would ask next. Around CBS he was the same infectious, funny and ferocious person as he was on TV. We loved him and we will miss him very much.”

– CBS News Chairman and “60 Minutes” Executive Producer, Jeff Fager.

Read more.

UPDATE: My former colleague from CBS, Joe Peyronnin, has an appreciation posted at Huffington Post, and throws some light on one of the darker chapters of Wallace’s life:

In 1982, CBS aired a documentary, The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception. The documentary alleged that U.S. Army General William Westmoreland deliberately underestimated the enemy’s troop strength to win American’s continuing support for the war. Westmoreland sued Mike and CBS for $120 million. During the bitter trial Mike was hospitalized for depression. In the end, Westmoreland settled the suit with just an apology from CBS.

The fact is that beneath that tough exterior, Mike Wallace continued to struggle with depression after the Westmoreland trial. Speaking of depression, he once said, “You feel lower than a snake’s belly.” He first publicly admitted he attempted suicide in an interview with his friend and colleague Morley Safer. He credited his wife Mary Wallace with having saved his life.

Later he spoke out more freely about his struggles with depression in hopes of ending the stigma that is associated with mental illness. He was honored by many leading mental health organizations, including the Mental Health Association of New York City, for having the courage to go public so that others may learn.

“For people who are contemplating suicide, contemplate, who are so damn scared and in pain and all of those things are true when you’re in a bad clinical depression.” Mike once said in an interview on WLIW-TV. “Take a look at me, that what I’ve learned is that because I was saved I had 20 more years of very productive life.”

Comments

  1. pagansister says:

    I heard this on the news this evening and didn’t realize he was a man of 93. A long life in which he contributed much to the world of broadcast journalism. I always enjoyed watching him do his interviews—he didn’t mince words. :o) May he rest in peace.

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