The Darkest Man at The Door: A Reflection on Mike Wallace vs. Ahmadinejad
Mike Wallace was a relentless newsman who admittedly enjoyed the fact that his reputation alone often made his interview subjects nervous. My post earlier this week, Remembering Mike Wallace: Lessons from a Master Interviewer, closed with the line: “RIP, Mr. Wallace. I’m glad I was able to see you (on TV, not at my office door).”
As my mind and eyes wandered through old Mike Wallace interview clips I began to think about some of the ‘scary’ figures to darken my office door. The answer was obvious and immediate. It was not a tweakin’ troubled musician, ruthless raiding CEO or ‘roid raged athlete (but they are scary too). Not that I needed the prompt, but the most despicable person to walk into my office (more specifically, studio) was also interviewed by Mike a year earlier.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited NYC on 9/24/2007. The United States government had this dog on a very tight leash – a 30 mile radius from The United Nations in NYC. The delusional dictator’s schedule included an early stop at the UN followed by a late morning address to the prominent national and international media assembled at the National Press Club in DC (NPC). Since they were 170 miles outside of the no-go zone the little man with the big entourage and bigger smirk came to Medialink (where I was COO) – 3 blocks away- at the request of our client, the NPC.
It was surreal. Security, sweeps, secrecy … Lights, cameras, action.
At 11:15 am I looked outside my office window and saw that 45th street between 3rd and Lex was business as usual. At 11:17 am it was clear. No cars, busses or taxis. No business people, residents or tourists. Barricades and security. NYPD. FBI. SWAT. At 11:30 am with only the absolutely necessary personnel in place, the president of the Republic of Iran sat in our studio and participated in a satellite press conference. The rest of our NY staff huddled behind “the two Larrys” – me and Larry Moskowitz, Medialink’s CEO and founder – on the other side of the office behind glass but guarded doors.
After a gathering of his ensemble in our boardroom for midday prayers … The madman who visited Medialink was off to Columbia University to enrage and disgust more people.
Unfortunately, the little dictator is still in power. Mike Wallace, is not.
But Mike’s legacy is very much alive, and that includes his revealng interview of Ahmadinejad in front of the American public – 12 months before the creep darkened my door.
Larry is president of Latergy, a video services boutique that provides multimedia content strategy, production, distribution and measurement services to professional communicators. Prior to Latergy, Thomas pioneered online video marketing and PR as co-founder and president of PR Newswire’s MultiVu and COO of Medialink Worldwide, a NASDAQ company that was sold to a VC-backed competitor. He lives in NJ with his wife, Sherry Lynn, and their plethora of pups. Contact him at lthomas@Latergy.com.