Variety Editor Recalls His Mike Wallace Moment

There was understandably no shortage yesterday of cable news, Twitter, Facebook and Internet tributes to the late, great Mike Wallace. One of FishbowlLA’s favorite Sunday reminiscences was provided by Variety TV editor Andrew Wallenstein.

Two decades ago, Wallenstein was interviewed by Wallace for a 60 Minutes piece about Holocaust revisionism. As the editor-in-chief of the Queens College’s student newspaper, he had chosen – like several others around the country – to deliberately publish an incendiary ad from the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust. Wallenstein speculates that perhaps he was singled out for media attention because he was Jewish and stationed on a campus whose student body was close to one-third Jewish as well. From his Variety blog post:

Publicizing the ad was at the core of the rationale behind my decision. I wanted to raise awareness about the very existence of Holocaust revisionism, even at the risk of legitimizing what my many detractors felt was best left ignored…

The one memorable exchange I recall from the taping didn’t even make air, when one of my newspaper colleagues giving a rather lengthy answer to a perfunctory question, which led Wallace to cut her off with a somewhat rude reprimand that left everyone laughing.

Wallenstein writes that the encounter helped solidify his desire to become a journalist. After much less exciting internships in 1994 at New York magazine and Ad Age, Wallenstein was hired by the latter publication in January 1995. He was with THR before joining Variety, and has contributed to NPR since 2003.

Previously on FishbowlLA:
LA Journos Pay Tribute to Mike Wallace