Bob Simon for The Daily Beast: Mike Wallace Was an Inquisitor With a Tender Soul

April 9th, 2012

The Daily Beast
April 9, 2012
By, Bob Simon

Mike Wallace invented the TV interview. That was on Nightbeat more than 50 years ago and no one has matched him since.

Somehow, before an interview even began, Mike could spot exactly where his subject was vulnerable and he’d go straight for it. His deadliest weapons were an arched eyebrow and silence.  He never had to say, “Do you expect me to believe that?” His face said it all.

He could make the grand inquisitor look like a softie.

I often wondered why people agreed to be interviewed by him. I think it was somehow comparable to what once made some men volunteer to go a round with Muhammad Ali. The ultimate test. Can I get through this alive?

Mike and I got off to a bad start. It was 1967, and I was working  the overnight shift on the news desk. Mike dropped by around 2 in the morning decked out in a tuxedo. He was quite pleased with himself; so much so that after a while, I couldn’t help myself. I said, “Hey Mike, you’d better get that tux back to the shop or they’ll charge you for another day.” Everyone laughed. Not Mike.

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