The great investigative journalist Seymour M. Hersh has this memory of Mike Wallace, the “60 Minutes” superstar who died Saturday night at the age of 93:
In January, 1974, I was a reporter at the Washington bureau of the [New York] Times and had stumbled on a great story. I had gone off to Oregon to interview a Navy yeoman named Charles Radford who had earlier handled the most sensitive intelligence and other data for Henry Kissinger, and who had ended up in the middle of what clearly was a White House spying ring — yet another legacy of Watergate. Radford had passed some of Kissinger’s secrets to Admiral Thomas Moorer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who—because he was suspicious of Kissinger’s wheeling and dealing—had been cut out of much of what was going on in the White House. I had found Radford, who had been quietly reassigned and buried in a new job on the west coast, and interviewed him, and was flying with him back to Washington for further interviews. It was a Saturday late afternoon flight, and I had already filed a piece based on my initial interviews for the Sunday Times, which was planning, so I understood, to play the story big on Page One. We had a layover of an hour or so in Denver and we both went off to make a few phone calls; Radford said that he wanted to check in with his wife and children. Radford boarded the Denver-Washington flight at the very last moment. I asked him if there was anything important going on back home. No, he said, but some radio guy from New York called me and we had a long talk. Radio guy? Yeah, he said, Mike something. Wallace? I asked. “That’s it.”
You’ve got to remember that it was a Saturday night in New York City. Mike had seen or been tipped off about my scheduled Times piece quoting Radford, made some calls, found Radford’s wife, and somehow persuaded her that she had to give her husband the message to call him immediately at CBS. When Radford did, Wallace interviewed him from the Denver airport. He immediately splashed the interview all over CBS radio. Wallace had scooped me by interviewing Radford while I was flying with him in tow. I was more embarrassed than angry. The Old Man had shown me his moves, and taken my candy away.
- Scooped by Mike Wallace (newyorker.com)
- Legendary ’60 Minutes’ Correspondent Mike Wallace Dead At Age 93 (newyork.cbslocal.com)
- Nancy Reagan Mourns Loss Of Mike Wallace, Friend For 75 Years (losangeles.cbslocal.com)
- AP Photos: A half century of Mike Wallace’s career (hosted.ap.org)