ABC’s Tribute to Mike Wallace Showcases Swipes at Ronald Reagan

ABC’s Sunday night tribute to Mike Wallace, who passed away Saturday night, highlighted several swipes at Ronald Reagan, thus, inadvertently or not, painting the “legendary” 60 Minutes correspondent as something less than an impartial journalist. Or maybe ABC News just enjoyed re-playing those hits on the late conservative President.    

World News anchor David Muir began with a clip of Wallace, from either 1976 or during the 1980 campaign, demanding of Reagan: “How many blacks are there on your top campaign staff, Governor?” Reagan replied: “I couldn’t honestly answer you now.” To which Wallace snapped: “That speaks for itself.” Unsaid: At the time, 60 Minutes didn’t have any non-white reporters.

 


Audio: MP3 clip

Muir proceeded to assert “his interview subjects knew the tough questions would come and yet they would answer.” Viewers then saw Rosalynn Carter denouncing Reagan along the same lines Wallace had: “I think this President makes us comfortable with our prejudices.” Apparently the “tough question” from Wallace was his follow-up: “That’s not very nice, what you are saying.”

Next, Muir regurgitated “this tense back and forth with Nancy Reagan” in which Wallace demanded: “What was your husband’s role in Iran-Contra?” And: “You’re going to be in Japan and I’m told it’s a $2 million two weeks.”

A MRC CyberAlert post from May of 2006, “Mike Wallace Retires: A Look Back Through
the MRC's Archive
,” recounted:

To mark his retirement, Sunday's 60 Minutes will be devoted to a tribute to Mike Wallace. From the MRC's archive, some comments and views from Wallace that you can be certain will not be mentioned Sunday night: Wallace proclaimed that if he were traveling with enemy soldiers he would not warn U.S. soldiers of an impending ambush, was "astonished" wounded vets back the Iraq war, declared only a "[expletive] up" America could elect Bush, insisted the liberal bias charge is "damn foolishness," lent his name to a fundraiser for a pro-gun control group, doubted Bush's "validity," mocked President's Bush's smarts and belief in freeing people from oppression as he demanded, "Who gave George Bush the duty to free people around the world?" and voted for Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader.

From the Sunday, April 8 ABC World News:

DAVID MUIR: Mike Wallace defined Sunday nights in America for more than a generation. His interviews, his interrogations as legendary as the answers themselves. Here with Ronald Reagan, running for President.

WALLACE TO REAGAN: How many blacks are there on your top campaign staff, Governor?

RONALD REAGAN: I couldn’t honestly answer you now.

WALLACE: That speaks for itself.

.....

MUIR: His interview subjects knew the tough questions would come and yet they would answer. Roslaynn Carter after her husband lost to Ronald Reagan.

ROSALYNN CARTER: I think this President makes us comfortable with our prejudices.

WALLACE: That’s not very nice, what you are saying.

CATER: But it’s the way I feel and I think it’s true.

MUIR: Years later, this tense back and forth with Nancy Reagan.

MIKE WALLACE TO NANCY REAGAN: What was your husband’s role in Iran-Contra?

NANCY REAGAN: Nothing. I mean-

WALLACE: He was President of the United States.

NANCY REAGAN: It was what -- I don't know enough about Iran-Contra, Mike, to talk to you intelligently about it.

WALLACE: You’re going to be in Japan and I’m told it’s a $2 million two weeks.

NANCY REAGAN: They’re getting two of us.

WALLACE: It’s going to be a well recompensed two weeks.

NANCY REAGAN: It is for everybody who goes there. Which you probably know. And you really didn’t need that question.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center