True Journalism in ‘Mike Wallace is Here’

by Christian Ramos on August 19, 2019

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Solid Rock Fist Up]

In this day and age of modern television media, there’s a fine balance between fact and “fake news” journalist and opinionator. This is no longer the days when the hard questions were asked and the interviewee had a moment to sit and think about it all. Today, we live in such a cutthroat world of television news, there’s too much to go around. This isn’t the days of yesteryear when a man like Mike Wallace of CBS and the groundbreaking 60 Minutes would get to the root of interviews and take down mighty Sequoias.

In the new documentary Mike Wallace is Here, Avi Belkin (director) shows off this near mythical man and how for over half a century showed America the hard truth, and showed that later on in our own future after his passing, we need to look back and wake up to the possible dangers ahead. 

I grew up watching 60 Minutes. Yes, I was probably the only kid in my class who was interested in the ticking clock every Sunday night. I still am too. My time came through after Mike Wallace’s departure, but his story forever lives on. Starting out as an adman on television, he worked his way to the news division of CBS, a spot once home to the great Edward R. Murrow. In 1968, Wallace received the offer of a lifetime when a new television news magazine 60 Minutes would air weekly and showcase a variety of news stories, interviews and special interest programming. Premiering during the height of Vietnam and other political upheaval, the show would be a powerhouse for Wallace and news journalism. The Watergate scandal even further pushed Wallace into the spotlight, as his connections with many of the white house staff lead to an interview.

The documentary highlights some very notable interviews as stated above, but none so outlandish as Wallace speaking to the leader of Iran and quoting from another lead of his mental incompetence. Wallace didn’t look to ask easy questions to world leaders, even movie stars. Barbra Streisand on air called him a son of a bitch, and the legendary Bette Davis was appalled at Wallace calling her difficult to work with. 

This was a very well made documentary and one that peaked my interest the moment I heard about it on Wallace’s former home, CBS! I’m familiar with Wallace prior through the film The Insider. Mike Wallace is Here takes of course, a very personal look at this man, through his personal heartbreak, the lowest points in both his career and personal life and the outlook of the world through his eyes and what he wanted out of it. Many of his colleagues were interviewed for the film and all praised Wallace at being one of the best damn new journalists ever. And for the world today, we need more folks like Wallace helping lead the way.

Christian Ramos is a classic film fan, having had the dream to host Turner Classic Movies for years now. He also has a large amount of Oscar trivia in his head, remembers dressing as Groucho Marx one Halloween, and cherishes the moment Julianne Moore liked his tweet.

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