Mike Wallace interviewing then WCCO general manager John Culliton in 1996./photo by Allen Smith
Mike Wallace, who passed away over the weekend, had a reputation for standing up for the little guy. That was certainly the case in May 1996 when he flew to Minneapolis on his own dime to help out on the 25th anniversary of the Minnesota News Council, a group of professionals and citizens who considered grievanances against news organizations. The group dissolved last year.
"He had a pretty big fight with (executive producer) Don Hewitt about it because Don didn't believe in citizens getting involved in journalism," said Rob Brown, a public-relations agent who helped arrange Wallace's visit. "When Gary Gilson (the Council's executive director) invited Mike he said, 'Dammit, I'm there."
According to a story by my former colleague Noel Holston, Wallace was welcomed at Orchestra Hall by the Irondale High School band playing the fight song for his alma mater, The University of Michigan. An opera singer and ex-Gopher quarterback Rickey Foggie were also on hand to pay tribute.
When someone remarked how good he looked at the then age of 78, Wallace replied: "I've lived a life beyond reproach."