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Ira Rosen Dishes On Mike Wallace, Chris Cuomo & More Of TV’s 'Talented A-Holes' In New Tell-All Book

ira rosen ticking clock behind the scenes at  minutes memoir mike wallace chris cuomo
Source: ONE TOUGH PODCAST

Feb. 7 2021, Updated 12:51 p.m. ET

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In a bombshell memoir, Ira Rosen got candid about working for 60 Minutes — and even gave the inside scoop on Mike Wallace, Chris Cuomo and more broadcasters.

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"I’d rather work with a talented a**hole than a nice person without talent," Rosen wrote in Ticking Clock: Behind the Scenes at 60 Minutes, which will be released on February 16.

True to that statement, Rosen recalled witnessing an apparent meltdown from Wallace shortly after getting hired on 60 Minutes in 1980, according to excerpts obtained by the New York Post

The then 26-year-old producer was on assignment to investigate union violence in Los Angeles, but while Wallace was on his way to L.A., a source Rosen had talked into being interviewed bailed.  

"Mike went crazy," Rosen recalled, adding that senior producer Allan Maraynes was the one to break the bad news to Wallace. 

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"Wallace cursed Allan, told him that he was a failure as a producer and that he would be demoted as soon as we returned to New York. It was the most astonishing verbal abuse I had ever witnessed." 

"If you are going to listen to everything he says, you will go crazy, so I figured out a way to go into a cone of silence," Maraynes said afterward. 

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This wasn’t the first outburst Rosen witnessed for the next four decades, as he learned the ropes from the investigative journalist. The legendary phrase "Mike Wallace is here" also "applied to those working with him as well."

Pre #MeToo era, Wallace was reportedly known for his “neanderthal behavior” towards women, as he snapped bra straps and bottoms. "What the hell is her problem?" Wallace said when a female producer slapped him. 

Today staff "might call HR, hire an attorney, and threaten a very public lawsuit," Rosen wrote. "In those days the possibility of such actions never even crossed my mind." 

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"Mike would send his producers out to steal a source or a character who was key to a story, and then he would quickly film it before the other correspondent found out," Rosen wrote, as Wallace allegedly took stories from Ed Bradley and Morley Safer

"Months would go by in which Safer would not speak to Wallace, even though their offices were next door to each other."

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Yet, Wallace’s behavior wasn’t abnormal.

"If she [Diane Sawyer] was overly friendly and began to kiss you on the cheeks to say hello, chances are she was trashing you behind your back," Rosen said. While Sawyer and Barbara Walters are said to have pretended to be cordial, the pair were far from friends. 

The feud played out even more in 1998 when Sawyer and Walters co-anchored a Sunday night show. 

"They fought over who greeted the TV audience and who said good night," Rosen recalled. Eventually, Walters was allowed to open the show, while Sawyer would sign off, but Walters would often get the final “good night” in as the last word. 

"They even counted the number of words each one had, introducing the stories."

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In 2003, Rosen was asked to mentor Cuomo in investigative journalism, and he "reluctantly agreed." 

"Cuomo greeted me with, 'I understand that you are my new b**ch,'" Rosen recalled.

"He lost me at hello. That son of a b**ch Cuomo, I thought, he is definitely going to go far in this business."

Rosen partnered with Wallace’s son Chris Wallace and "found myself in the weird position of passing along the lessons I learned from his father to his son."

In 1997, the father and son did not speak for almost a year after Wallace allegedly derailed Chris’ story on Chris Rock by convincing the comedian to do a sit-down with him on 60 Minutes. Instead, they "solved" the feud by passing the story to Ed Bradley.

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