Fox newsman Chris Wallace Wednesday paid homage to three key
figures in his career and gave a shout out to a fourth.
Wallace was the recipient of the National Press Foundation's
Sol Taishoff Award for Broadcast Journalism, given out at NPF's annual awards
dinner in Washington Wednesday night. Taishoff, founder of Broadcasting & Cable magazine, was an old friend of Wallace's
stepfather, the late CBS newsman Bill Leonard. He said that made the award that
much more special. "It means a great deal to me to receive an award
especially in [Taishoff's] name."
Wallace said that Leonard, Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes,
and Wallace's father, Mike Wallace, were the three key figures in his
development as a journalist. He gave his stepfather props for pioneering
election coverage and helping come up with 60
Minutes and CBS Sunday Morning.
But he said the most memorable broadcasts were the pretend ones he and his stepfather
did on family trips whenever the Oldsmobile reached an odometric milestone -- 10,000
miles, 25,000 miles.
"We would do a CBS News special report, throwing it to
Chris to talk about what the car's success meant to the U.S. auto industry or
interviewing the assembly line worker who had put together the car. Yes, the
specials were overproduced and they always came in over budget, but I thought
they were just great."
Wallace had unalloyed praise for his Ailes, calling him the
best boss he had ever worked for. Wallace's resume includes long stints at ABC
News and NBC News. "This is a man who created an enormously influential
source of information for the American people out of nothing." Whether you like
it or not, he told the audience, in 15 years Fox has gone from zero to "a
central part of the national conversation."
Wallace turned serious as he talked about his father, CBS
newsman Mike Wallace. "I spent so much of my early life trying to get out
from under his shadow," he said. "Now as my father nears his 94th
birthday and is slipping away, I don't want you to forget him. He was vibrant,
and funny, and demanding, and a great reporter."