Mike Wallace may be hanging up his safari jacket, but the not-quite-retiring 60 Minutes correspondent still knows how to keep folks on the edge of their seats.
Accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Television Bureau of Advertising at the group’s Annual Marketing Conference in New York last week, Wallace left the audience breathless when he took a swipe at
the man who had just preceded him at the podium, Belo Corp. Vice Chairman Jack Sander.
No sooner had Sander left the stage after accepting B&C’s Broadcaster of the Year award with a gracious speech that celebrated the First Amendment in broadcasting, than Wallace stepped up and said, "I guess I’m going to have to be the skunk in this garden party, but your Broadcaster of the Year, Jack, made a bad decision several years back."
He then reminded the stunned audience that, in 1998, Sander had ordered five Belo-owned CBS
affiliates not to air Wallace’s report showing a tape of Dr. Jack Kervorkian administering a lethal injection.
As 1,200 broadcasters shifted uneasily in their seats, Wallace the Righteous became Wallace the Mensch. Turns out Wallace, who’d never met Sander before, had confronted him on this matter moments before the two were honored.
"I told Mr. Sander before lunch about my displeasure over his decision back then," he said. "And he admitted to me he’d questioned ever since if he had made the right decision. That’s the kind of man Jack Sander is: big enough to admit he might have made a mistake."
The crowd sighed in relief.