Time's "Ten Questions" feature is wasted this week on CBS "60 Minutes" hound Mike Wallace. I'm not saying Wallace isn't worth interviewing, but Time managing editor James Kelly gives him a complete book-promoting walk in the park. He doesn't ask about the latest Wallace gaffe in the news, his appearance at an anti-gun Brady Center fundraiser. (See here and here.) He asks about CBS boss Les Moonves being no Bill Paley, but he doesn't ask directly about Dan Rather's Memogate fiasco. (Wallace told the New Yorker he couldn't watch Rather's newscast.) He just nibbles around Wallace's conduct in a 1982 Vietnam documentary that caused Gen. William Westmoreland to sue. He doesn't ask what I would have asked: why did you promote Jack Kevorkian's assisted suicides? The ending is the most ridiculous, with Kelly asking "Your epitaph?" Wallace responds "Tough but fair."
Well, that's the spit take, or it's when Wallace is asked to identify the top interviewers: "Larry King can be very good." (Cynic's translation: I hope to get an hour on Larry's show to plug this book.) Wallace couldn't believe anyone could question his fairness. He didn't see the point:
Kelly asked: "You're famous for the hard-hitting pieces, using hidden cameras and reporters with assumed names, and then you come in and hammer the guy. It made for great TV, but not everyone thought it was fair. See their point?" Wallace replied: "I really don't. Look, because it had not been done before and it had not been seen before, the audience was able to view the process from the inside. It wasn't an ambush. It was an effort to get behind the façade." It wasn't an ambush? Can't Wallace admit that in most cases, it was both an ambush and an attempt to get behind a facade?
This isn't the first time that Time has done a "Ten Questions" puffball for a TV journalist hawking a book. See Andrea Mitchell.
UPDATE: The Boston Herald says NBC (Dateline and Today) will publicize the Wallace book, not CBS. Weird.