The crew of MSNBC’s Morning Joe praised the life and work of Mike Wallace on Monday but it was co-host Mika Brzezinski who recalled the iconic newsman from personal experience.
“There are a few greats left … that are who they are off the air, on the air and it’s not performance,” Brzezinski said.
Wallace, one of the original correspondents for CBS’ “60 Minutes,” died Saturday night in New Haven, Conn., with his family by his side. Wallace was 93.
New Yorker editor David Remnick, a guest on “Morning Joe,” said he wanted to give a “rounded portrait” of Wallace.
“I didn’t like the stunts and the hidden cameras,” Remnick said, “and the kinda gotcha interviews on little guys who had a little scam going and all of a sudden all of power of ’60 Minutes’ is brought onto them. It was a lot of theater going on and for somebody in print that’s a kinda weird and alien thing, even for some people in television.”
But, Remnick said, “What I liked most about him is that most TV journalism is too soft. He was something very different.”
Brzezinski jumped in to praise Wallace’s interviewing style.
“The full essence of Mike Wallace’s work is often seen in small beautiful moments in interviews and had nothing to do with hijinks,” she said.
MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell also recalled Wallace’s impact journalism.
“There are very few people in our business who are not imitators. He was the original,” she said. “He was the first really tough interrogator in journalism and his questions … and just the way he melded performing and journalism was extraordinary.”
George Stephanopoulos, on Good Morning America Monday, called Wallace a “true television legend.”
“He never lost his enthusiasm, never got jaded, and even when he was asking very tough questions he had a little twinkle in his eyes,” Stephanopoulos said. “He interviewed everyone and was the master of the tough question.”
On Fox & Friends Monday morning, Beth Knobel, co-author of Mike Wallace’s book “Heat and Light: Advice for the Next Generation of Journalists” and former CBS News Moscow bureau chief remembered Wallace’s transformation from a “tiger” in the newsroom to a “pussycat.”
“Mike really invented advocacy journalism,” she said. “He invented the interview and he made people understand it’s ok to ask a tough question and to keep asking it until somebody answered it.”
“I think earlier on in his career, I hear was a real tiger and could be very, very tough and demanding. By the time we started working together in the late 90s, he was kind of a pussycat. He was really wonderful to work with on our book. Just very giving and really down to earth.”
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