Proper after getting employed at “60 Minutes,” Ira Rosen witnessed one in all Mike Wallace’s signature meltdowns.
It was 1980 and Rosen, then 26, was on his first project for the legendary information program, investigating union violence in Los Angeles. The newly minted junior producer had spent weeks sweet-talking a federal investigator into agreeing to look on digicam with Wallace, CBS Information’ prime correspondent. However whereas Wallace was in transit to the West Coast, the supply bailed out.
Senior producer Allan Maraynes broke the dangerous information as he drove Wallace into city from the airport, with Rosen within the again seat.
“Mike went loopy,” Rosen writes, grabbing fistfuls of paperwork from Maraynes’ briefcase and hurling them into his face as he struggled to maintain the car on the street.
“Wallace cursed Allan, advised him that he was a failure as a producer, and that he can be demoted as quickly as we returned to New York. It was essentially the most astonishing verbal abuse I had ever witnessed.”
Later, a shell-shocked Rosen requested Maraynes how he withstood the tantrum.
“I tuned him out,” his colleague defined wearily. “If you’re going to take heed to every part he says, you’ll go loopy, so I found out a method to enter a cone of silence.”
That incident set the blueprint for Rosen’s subsequent 4 many years.
“I’d somewhat work with a gifted asshole than a pleasant individual with out expertise,” Rosen writes in “Ticking Clock” (St. Martin’s), out Feb. 16, his memoir about his profession at “60 Minutes” and its rivals, ABC’s “20/20” and “Primetime Stay.”
Fortunately for him, the TV information enterprise is stacked with gifted assholes.
When Rosen joined “60 Minutes,” Wallace, then 62, was a journalism legend, identified for his hard-hitting exposés and hard interviews that held wrongdoers’ ft to the hearth. The CBS advert division made his repute a slogan — “The 4 most feared phrases within the English language: Mike Wallace is right here.”
“Sadly,” Rosen says ruefully, “that utilized to these working with him as properly.”
Wallace gave Rosen his large break, taught him the ropes of investigative journalism and offered a grasp class in interviewing and showmanship — all whereas spewing a relentless barrage of invective and belittlement.
In public and in personal, Wallace “appeared to outline his life by how a lot bother he might trigger.” He delighted in loudly quizzing Rosen about his intercourse life when the 2 had been out to dinner and wrecked Rosen’s wedding ceremony by whispering darkish feedback to the daddy of the bride (“Does she know what she is moving into?” he stated, sighing deeply. “I’ve to let you know about him — wait, the marriage is beginning”).
On the workplace, he was infamous for his “Neanderthal conduct” towards girls, snapping their bra straps and slapping their bottoms. When one feminine producer reacted with a livid smack within the face, Wallace was perplexed.
“What the hell is her drawback?” he puzzled aloud.
Co-workers right this moment “may name HR, rent an legal professional, and threaten a really public lawsuit,” Rosen admits. “However in these days the opportunity of such actions by no means even crossed my thoughts.”
Certainly, since Wallace left the airwaves in 2008, a string of CBS Information correspondents and executives — together with Charlie Rose, CEO Leslie Moonves, and “60 Minutes” boss Jeff Fager — have been ousted over allegations of sexual misconduct.
It wasn’t solely underlings who acquired the Wallace remedy. He ran roughshod over his fellow correspondents, too, usually poaching tales from colleagues Ed Bradley and Morley Safer.
“Mike would ship his producers out to steal a supply or a personality who was key to a narrative, after which he would shortly movie it earlier than the opposite correspondent came upon,” Rosen writes.
Safer, particularly, took offense at these thefts. “Months would go by during which Safer wouldn’t converse to Wallace, regardless that their places of work had been subsequent door to one another.”
Selecting fights with colleagues “will get your blood shifting,” Wallace as soon as advised Rosen. “It makes you are feeling alive.”
Though Wallace’s conduct was excessive, he wasn’t alone. Rosen writes that the business is rife with divas and head circumstances who make life depressing for his or her crews.
The “two-faced” Diane Sawyer was notorious for her behind-the-back insults. “If she was overly pleasant and started to kiss you on the cheeks to say hiya, chances are high she was trashing you behind your again,” Rosen dishes.
Sawyer can be all smiles when she bumped into Barbara Walters in ABC’s hallways, chuckling over rumors that the 2 had been at odds — and dropping the act the second Walters was out of vary.
“Contained in the elevator, Diane checked out me and stated, ‘I hate that girl. Don’t consider a phrase she says. She knifes me any likelihood she will get,’ ” Rosen writes. “She had the look of somebody who wished vengeance.”
In 1998, when ABC execs made Sawyer and Walters co-anchors of a Sunday evening present, their secret enmity made the pressured collaboration a nightmare.
“They fought over who greeted the TV viewers and who stated good evening,” Rosen recollects. After a lot negotiation, Walters was given welcome duties and Sawyer had accountability for the sign-off. However nobody might cease Walters from including a ultimate “good evening” a second after Sawyer bid the viewers adieu, giving her the final phrase each week and enraging her on-air accomplice.
“They even counted the variety of phrases each had, introducing the tales,” Rosen writes. “It was a complete catastrophe.”
Chris Cuomo, now a CNN anchor, introduced little journalism expertise — however a heaping serving to of entitlement — to ABC when he landed a correspondent’s job there.
“His brother [now-Gov. Andrew Cuomo] nicknamed Chris ‘Mansion Boy’ as a result of Chris spent his teen years on the governor’s Albany mansion” throughout their father’s administration, Rosen snickers.
In 2003, execs at “Primetime Stay” requested Rosen to mentor Cuomo in investigative journalism.
“I reluctantly agreed,” Rosen writes. “Cuomo greeted me with, ‘I perceive that you’re my new bitch.’ ”
“He misplaced me at hiya,” Rosen recollects. “That son of a bitch Cuomo, I believed, he’s positively going to go far on this enterprise.”
Whereas his caustic vanity was unwelcome at ABC, Cuomo made it a part of his act on cable.
Katie Couric infuriated Rosen throughout her quick and sad “60 Minutes” stint.
“Lazy and disengaged, and thought she was smarter than all of us who labored on the present,” he judges. “She wasn’t.”
In 2008, on the top of Hillary Clinton’s presidential major battle with Barack Obama, “60 Minutes” scored a coup: Each candidates agreed to let the present behind the scenes of their campaigns to movie twin segments that will run in the identical Sunday evening slot. Couric was assigned the Clinton interview.
However whereas producers wished to problem the previous first girl with weighty questions, Couric was decided to go together with her trademark perkiness. She tossed Rosen’s script and went for the fluff.
“How do you do it? … I’m speaking about pure stamina,” Couric started as Rosen steamed on the sidelines.
Clinton answered with a laundry record of grandmotherly inanities: “I take nutritional vitamins. I drink tea, not espresso anymore … Wash your fingers on a regular basis. And in case you can’t, use Purell.”
“The interview went downhill from there,” Rosen gripes. “I saved considering, ‘For this, they’re paying Katie $15 million a 12 months?’ ”
Mike Wallace by no means mellowed with age. At ABC, Rosen partnered with Chris Wallace, who had a fractious relationship along with his father each personally and professionally.
“I now discovered myself within the bizarre place of passing alongside the teachings I realized from his father to his son,” Rosen recollects.
In 1997, as Chris Wallace ready a narrative on comic Chris Rock, his father derailed it — by convincing Rock to do a sit-down with him as an alternative, since “60 Minutes” had higher scores.
“This was a betrayal on so many ranges. I felt I needed to name Mike,” Rosen writes.
“ ‘Mike, why would you rip off your child?’ I requested.
“ ‘He’ll recover from it,’ Mike replied.”
Rosen begged him to rethink, saying, “Your selection is easy. You’ll be able to have Chris converse at your funeral, or you are able to do the profile of Chris Rock.”
“Fifteen minutes later, Mike referred to as. ‘I solved the issue. I gave the story to Ed Bradley.’ ”
Father and son didn’t converse to at least one one other for practically a 12 months.
However when Mike Wallace died in 2012 at 93 years outdated, Chris nonetheless paid tribute to his father:
“My dad was every part you noticed on tv: fascinating and humorous, difficult and exasperating,” he stated in an announcement. “And whereas work usually got here first for him, over the past 20 years, he labored laborious to make connections along with his household. He grew to become my greatest buddy.”