Magazine article Insight on the News

Mike Wallace Changes His Tune. (News Alert!)

Magazine article Insight on the News

Mike Wallace Changes His Tune. (News Alert!)

Article excerpt

At a media forum at the Brookings Institution, Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes was, for a change, on the hot seat, answering questions about the past, present and future of broadcast news. Like many of those he interviews, Wallace did a bit of a reversal under tire. Asked why the media were not reporting on terrorism issues before Sept. 11, the veteran broadcaster replied in part that "We were fat, happy and arrogant." When asked by the panel moderator if he included 60 Minutes in that assessment, Wallace replied, "I'm including all of American journalism."

Eventually, the moderator agreed to open the floor to questions and turned first to a reporter from INSIGHT, who cited controversial remarks Wallace made at an earlier "ethics roundtable." Back in the 1980s, a moderator asked a panel of newsmen, including Wallace, what they would do if they were traveling with and covering enemy forces and realized U.S. troops were walking into a deadly ambush.

Another panelist, ABC's Peter Jennings, initially said he would try to warn the troops, but the scrappy Wallace disagreed, insisting that his duty as a reporter would outweigh his sentiments as an American. Jennings quickly came around, but U.S. military personnel both on and off that roundtable expressed outrage at the Wallace remarks.

So naturally INSIGHT's reporter asked Wallace if he still holds those views about protecting a news source at the expense of the lives of others and whether that would apply today to a reporter covering, say, Hamas terrorists in Palestine when the newsman had direct knowledge of a pending suicide attack on civilians. …

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