Day: April 8, 2012

Remembering Mike Wallace 1918-2012

I was a Mike Wallace fan and have missed his unique style of reporting and his bold journeys into territory few other newscasters and journalists would dare venture into.

On March 14, 2006, Wallace announced his retirement from 60 Minutes after 37 years with the program.

CBS

Video compilation of Mr. Wallace’s career…

For half a century, he took on corrupt politicians, scam artists and bureaucratic bumblers. His visits were preceded by the four dreaded words: Mike Wallace is here.

Wallace took to heart the old reporter’s pledge to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. He characterized himself as “nosy and insistent.”

So insistent, there were very few 20th century icons who didn’t submit to a Mike Wallace interview. He lectured Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, on corruption. He lectured Yassir Arafat on violence.

He asked the Ayatollah Khoumeini if he were crazy.

He traveled with Martin Luther King (whom Wallace called his hero). He grappled with Louis Farrakhan.

And he interviewed Malcolm X shortly before his assassination.

He was no stranger to the White House, interviewing his friends the Reagans . . . John F. Kennedy . . . Lyndon Johnson . . . Jimmy Carter. Even Eleanor Roosevelt.

Plus all those remarkable characters: Leonard Bernstein, Johnny Carson, Luciano Pavarotti, Janis Joplin, Tina Turner, Salvador Dali, Barbra Streisand. His take-no-prisoners style became so famous he even spoofed it with comedian Jack Benny.

It’s hard to believe, but when Wallace was born in 1918 there wasn’t even a radio in most American homes, much less a TV.

As a youth, Wallace said, he was “an overachiever. I worked pretty hard. Played a hell of a fiddle.”

At the University of Michigan, where his parents hoped he’d become a doctor or lawyer, he got hooked instead on radio. And by 1941, Mike was the announcer on “The Green Hornet.”

“My family didn’t know what to make of it – an announcer?” he recalled.

He was soon the hardest-working announcer in broadcasting.

When television arrived in the 1950s, Wallace was everywhere . . . variety shows, game shows, dramas, commercials.

But it was an interview show called “Nightbeat,” first broadcast in 1956, that Wallace remembered fit him like custom-made brass knuckles. “We decided to ask the irreverent question, the abrasive question, the who-gives-a-damn question.”

Some, like labor leader Mike Quill, had never been spoken to that way. “Go ahead and ask your stupid questions,” he retorted.

Neither had mobster Mickey Cohen, whom Wallace asked, “How many men have you killed, Mickey?”

Continue here…

How Romney Fibs—and Gets Away With It

mitt romneyI’ve listened to lie after lie from Mitt Romney and often wondered how he gets away with it.  The media seem to gloss over Romney’s lies, never challenging him on them.

Apparently David Corn of Mother Jones was channeling my thoughts.  He wrote a very good article on the topic…

David Corn-Mother Jones

“Romney sharpens criticism of Obama.” “Romney blasts Obama’s ‘hide and seek’ presidency.”

These were some of the headlines accompanying media reports of Mitt Romney’s speech to the Newspaper Association of America on Wednesday. The GOP front-runner’s address was a harsh assault on President Barack Obama and marked another effort on Romney’s part to present himself as the inevitable Republican nominee and to strike at the incumbent president rather than his remaining and hobbling-along GOP primary rivals. But as important—if not more so—as his biting and sarcastic tone was the fact that Romney repeatedly tossed off false accusations against Obama. And he did so—and got away with this—in front of a large audience of journalists.

[…]

Here are a few examples:

* In slamming Obama’s stimulus package, Romney declared, “The administration pledged that it would keep unemployment below 8 percent…it has been above 8 percent every month since.” This charge—a favorite on the right—has been debunked repeatedly. Obama never promised to bring unemployment below 8 percent. Two economists on his presidential transition staff produced a report prior to Obama’s inauguration projecting unemployment would fall below 8 percent if Obama’s stimulus were to be enacted. But this projection came with all the usual caveats, and it was written before the full impact of the economic crash under way was realized. (In fact, the stimulus did lift employment as this projection predicted, yet the economic hole was deeper than most economists at the time assumed.) The Washington Post‘s “Fact Checker” has deemed the 8 percent accusation false. Yet Romney and others keep on repeating it.

* Romney reiterated the canard that Obamacare is “a government takeover of health care. “PolitiFact judged that assertion—widely used by conservatives—as the lie of the year for 2010. Moreover, would Romney describe the health care plan he passed as governor of Massachusetts as a “state government takeover of health care”?

* Romney blasted Obama for not having any fiscal plan, noting the president has “failed to…propose a serious plan to solve our entitlement crisis.” He added that Obama had “zero” economic ideas. This is absurdly false. The president tried mightily to negotiate a Grand Bargain deficit reduction accord with House Speaker John Boehner. A month after that effort collapsed, Obama proposed a major jobs creation bill and released a 100-page plan outlining his preferred policies for bolstering the economy and reducing the deficit. Romney can oppose these proposals, but it is a blatant misrepresentation to say that Obama has served up absolutely no ideas for economic growth and deficit reduction.

Continue reading here for more examples…