Who really said, 'The four most frightening words in the English language are "Mike Wallace is here" '?

Myron Leon "Mike" Wallace died Saturday. He was 93. "60 Minutes," which will dedicate next week's show to Wallace, has a collection of some of his most notable interview clips. Howard Kurtz ponders: "Perhaps our mourning for these titans of yore reflects a longing for a simpler time, when right and wrong was as clear-cut as Mike Wallace chasing a bad guy down the street." Martin Lewis says Wallace was indirectly responsible for Beatlemania. And Seymour Hersh remembers getting soundly scooped by Wallace. Josh Gerstein was scooped by him, too.

An interesting question: Who really said "The four most frightening words in the English language are 'Mike Wallace is here' "?

The Los Angeles Times attributes it to Joseph Coors. "Wallace had such a fearsome reputation as an interviewer that 'Mike Wallace is here to see you' were among the most dreaded words a newsmaker could hear," writes David Bauder. In the Washington Post, Adam Bernstein wisely goes with the passive tense: "For anyone hiding a secret, it was often said, four of the most dreaded words in the English language were 'Mike Wallace is here.'” In an AP gallery: "His reputation preceded him: 'The four most dreaded words in the English language: Mike Wallace is here,' as the saying goes." Someone get an investigative journalist on this pronto!

His college newspaper, The Michigan Daily, remembers its famous alum, including a great story about him confusing his parents with a job announcement, and a couple of campus controversies involving him.
  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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