Wallace's greatest legacy as a journalist was his ability to merge investigative reporting with television in a way let that viewers see the story unfold before their very eyes. He became famous as the pioneer of the "gotcha" moment, where he would put his subjects before the camera to grill them about whatever nefarious deeds they might be hiding. He also wasn't afraid to challenged some of the powerful people in the world, or say unflattering things to their face. But mostly, he was just a darn good reporter. Seymour Hersh at The New Yorker has the best anecdote about getting scooped by Wallace while on a trip with his own source.
CBS has posted many highlights from his career at the network, which include being a founding correspondent on 60 Minutes. We've included some of those clips and a few of other memorable moments that we were available online below.
* * * * *
The Hate that Hate Produced (1959): A full-length documentary about "black racism" that introduced the Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad, and that Nation of Islam to much of America. The whole thing is on YouTube, but here is Part 1:
The first episode of 60 Minutes in 1968.
The Shah of Iran (shortly before the Iranian revolution) admitting to the execution of political opponents.
Asking Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini about Egypt's Anwar Sadat calling him a "disgrace to Islam" and a "lunatic."
Interviewing former General William Westmoreland about Vietnam. (Westmoreland later sued Wallace for libel for reporting that he misled Americans about the war.)
The story of tobacco industry whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand that inspired the movie The Insider.
Finally, one of the best Saturday Night Live parodies of all time, inspired by Wallace's trademarked interview style.