Promoting the great Saint McCain: We have no overall view of the career of the late Mike Wallace.
Presumably, he did a lot of good work. Presumably, no one is perfect.
This morning, the New York Times presents a long history of his career. Since Wallace is thought of as an iconoclast, we thought it was worth recalling an instance in which he betrayed a different impulse.
By 1998, the upper-end press corps was increasingly becoming the equivalent of a small, upper-class social club—a wealthy fraternal/sororal order with shared views and rigid group narratives. By 1998, one such narrative involved the moral greatness of the great saint, Saint John McCain.
John McCain was morally great. Bill Clinton and Al Gore were not—were the opposite. Everyone voiced these standard group tales, including a famous iconoclast.
In June 1998, Howard Kurtz reported the swoon for the sainted McCain, a group phenomenon which would soon be known by that name:
KURTZ (6/8/98): The media's fascination with McCain transcends his maverick style. Nor can it be fully explained by his cheerful accessibility...Wow. Kurtz went on to quote other major press figures who were caught in the swoon. (“Al Hunt has written in his Wall Street Journal column that McCain ‘is the most courageous and one of the most admirable men I've ever known in American politics.’”) But Wallace had actually said that he might quit his job to work for McCain if he got the GOP nomination.
The plain truth is that a growing number of journalists want John McCain to run for president. The fact that he's just flirting with the idea makes him all the more desirable.
Mike Wallace, who turned down the chance to be Richard Nixon's press secretary, says of McCain: "I'm thinking I may quit my job if he gets the nomination. . . . I'm impressed by his independence, by his willingness to take on the tough ones. By his honesty about himself. As I look at the current crop, there's something authentic about this man."
By 1998, the upper-end press corps had become a small, corrupt mafia—an inbred group which was devoted to its silly, novelized tales.
John McCain was the world's greatest saint. Starting in March 1999, Gore was the world's biggest liar.
The liberal world still won’t discuss most of this remarkable story. Darlings! Careers hang in the balance! Some things must be ignored!
But Wallace was pushing these fairy tales too. By now, at its upper ends, this was no longer an actual “press corps.”
What was it instead? We've reported for years. You decide!