CBS News

What was the accusation?

In March 1981, during a 60 Minutes interview with San Diego Federal Savings and Loan for a story about home-improvement fraud, CBS News correspondent Mike Wallace made a facetious remark about why allegedly defrauded people sign their contracts without reading them: “They’re probably too busy eating their watermelon and tacos.” While Wallace’s remark, reported later by the Los Angeles Times, appeared to stereotypically target black and Spanish-speaking people, Wallace maintained that his remark was “casual,” “off the record,” and “partly intended to elicit any possible ‘latent racist’ views on the part of the bank executive he was interviewing.” Wallace conceded, though, that “[in] hindsight, it’s conceivable that [he] made a mistake,” with CBS News eventually releasing its own statement of apology to the public.  

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“CBS News regrets, as does Mike Wallace, his offhand remark during a break in an interview. The story as it was broadcast on ’60 Minutes’ was accurate and fair and in no way reflected that remark.”


Schwartz, T. (1982, January 12). Wallace taped in ethnic remark. The New York Times. Retrieved from