Mike Wallace, ’60 Minutes’ Producer Reprimanded for Secret Camera Interview
NEW YORK (AP) _ Mike Wallace, dean of CBS’ ″60 Minutes,″ and a producer have been reprimanded for secretly videotaping an interview with a freelance writer.
″This is without equivocation a violation of CBS News guidelines, a violation of journalistic standards, an ethical violation and I won’t tolerate that,″ said CBS News President Eric Ober, who rebuked both men Wednesday.
Ober said it was ″very, very bad judgment″ on the part of Wallace and producer Bob Anderson, who secretly videotaped Karon Haller during a visit to Wallace’s ″60 Minutes″ office about two weeks ago.
Haller covered the story of a man indicted for helping his terminally ill father commit suicide.
She discussed the story with Wallace, but was uncomfortable about appearing on camera. Anderson told Ober he rigged the secret camera so he could reassure Haller later about the way she conducted herself, Ober said.
″I thought I was working alongside them,″ Haller told The Washington Post. ″I didn’t think they were going to zero in on me.″
Ober said he didn’t know why Haller wasn’t shown the videotape immediately after the interview.
Anderson told the Post he had planned to seek Haller’s permission to use the footage and it was a coincidence that he notified her shortly after a Post reporter asked about the matter.
Under CBS News guidelines, only Ober or his vice president, Joe Peyronnin, can authorize use of a hidden camera, and then only when it’s the only way to get a story.
″Ober is very upset and I don’t blame him,″ Wallace, 76, told the Post. A newsman since the 1940s, he has been co-editor of ″60 Minutes″ since its 1968 debut.
The broadcast has been among the Top 10 shows for the past 16 consecutive seasons, and TV’s No. 1 show in three decades.
Anderson is a former CBS News foreign editor who’s been a newsman for more than 20 years. Ober first hired him as a producer when both men worked at Philadelphia’s WCAU-TV in 1976.
Ober said he, Peyronnin and ″60 Minutes″ executive producer Don Hewitt learned of the taping Wednesday.
While ″60 Minutes″ pioneered use of the hidden-camera interview, Ober said CBS is using it less and less ″because the technique was overused and needed to be reined in.″