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The journalist Molly Ivins
was a professional Texas contrarian.
Credit Molly Ivins Collection,
Briscoe Archives/Magnolia Pictures
‘Raise Hell’ Review: For Molly Ivins, Writing Was Fighting
An admiring documentary
takes a look at the celebrated Texas journalist
who vanquished foes with wit and loathing.
Sept. 5, 2019
sex advice columnist
Slickergate > The Mirror's
City Slickers column
how to manipulate the stock market
Russell Wayne Baker 1925-2019
Leslie Hunter Whitten Jr.
Les Whitten (...)
shared a byline
with Jack Anderson
on a nationally syndicated
that mercilessly exposed
Washington’s foibles and frauds
and who once even spied
on J. Edgar Hoover,
of the F.B.I.
Thomas Grey Wicker USA
one of postwar America’s
wrote 20 books,
covered the assassination
of President John F. Kennedy
New York Times
and became the paper’s
Washington bureau chief
and an iconoclastic
for 25 years
James Richard Hughes Bacon USA
spent six decades
as a reporter, author
and syndicated columnist
Daily Mail writer / columnist > Lynda Lee-Potter
columnist > USA > Mary Tyler Ivins 1944-2007
(...) liberal newspaper columnist
in skewering politicians
and interpreting, and mocking,
her Texas culture
waged a public battle
against breast cancer
after her diagnosis in 1999.
In her syndicated column,
in about 350 newspapers,
Ms. Ivins cultivated
the voice of a folksy populist
who derided those who she thought
acted too big for their britches.
She was rowdy and profane,
but she could filet her opponents
with droll precision.
Alan Rhun Watkins
political columnist > William Safire
columnist > Keith Spencer Waterhouse 1929-2009
New York Post columnist James Brady
Times columnist Alan Coren
New York Times > Opinion > Columnists /
commentator > Charles Rice McDowell Jr.
for The Richmond Times-Dispatch
who brought a folksy
to a regular stint on the PBS program
“Washington Week in Review”
and to a prominent role in Ken Burns’s
PBS series “The Civil War”
Dies at 85
November 25, 2011
The New York Times
By ROBERT D. McFADDEN
Tom Wicker, one of postwar America’s most distinguished
journalists, who wrote 20 books, covered the assassination of President John F.
Kennedy for The New York Times and became the paper’s Washington bureau chief
and an iconoclastic political columnist for 25 years, died on Friday at his home
near Rochester, Vt. He was 85.
The cause was apparently a heart attack, said his wife, Pamela Wicker.
On Nov. 22, 1963, Mr. Wicker, a brilliant but relatively unknown White House
correspondent who had worked at four smaller papers, written several novels
under a pen name and, at 37, had established himself as a workhorse of The
Times’s Washington bureau, was riding in the presidential motorcade as it wound
through downtown Dallas, the lone Times reporter on a routine political trip to
The searing images of that day — the rifleman’s shots cracking across Dealey
Plaza, the wounded president lurching forward in the open limousine, the blur of
speed to Parkland Memorial Hospital and the nation’s anguish as the doctors gave
way to the priests and a new era — were dictated by Mr. Wicker from a phone
booth in stark, detailed prose drawn from notes scribbled on a White House
itinerary sheet. It filled two front-page columns and the entire second page,
and vaulted the writer to journalistic prominence overnight.
Nine months later, Mr. Wicker, the son of a small-town North Carolina railroad
conductor, succeeded the legendary James B. Reston as chief of The Times’s
48-member Washington bureau, and two years later he inherited the column —
although hardly the mantle — of the retiring Arthur Krock, the dean of
Washington pundits, who had covered every president since Calvin Coolidge.
In contrast to the conservative pontificating of Mr. Krock and the genteel
journalism of Mr. Reston, Mr. Wicker brought a hard-hitting Southern
liberal/civil libertarian’s perspective to his column, “In the Nation,” which
appeared on the editorial page and then on the Op-Ed Page two or three times a
week from 1966 until his retirement in 1991. It was also syndicated to scores of
Riding waves of change as the effects of the divisive war in Vietnam and
America’s civil rights struggle swept the country, Mr. Wicker applauded
President Lyndon B. Johnson and Congress for passage of the Civil Rights Act of
1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but took the president to task for
deepening the American involvement in Southeast Asia.
He denounced President Richard M. Nixon for covertly bombing Cambodia, and in
the Watergate scandal accused him of creating the “beginnings of a police
state.” Nixon put Mr. Wicker on his “enemies list,” but resigned in disgrace
over the Watergate cover-up. Vice President Spiro T. Agnew upbraided Mr. Wicker
for “irresponsibility and thoughtlessness,” but he, too, resigned after pleading
no contest to evading taxes on bribes he had taken while he was governor of
The Wicker judgments fell like a hard rain upon all the presidents: Gerald R.
Ford, for continuing the war in Vietnam; Jimmy Carter, for “temporizing” in the
face of soaring inflation and the Iranian hostage crisis; Ronald Reagan, for
dozing through the Iran-contra scandal, and the elder George Bush, for letting
the Persian Gulf war outweigh educational and health care needs at home. Mr.
Wicker’s targets also included members of Congress, government secrecy, big
business, corrupt labor leaders, racial bigots, prison conditions, television
and the news media.
In the 1970s, Mr. Wicker, whose status as a columnist put him outside the
customary journalistic restrictions on advocacy, became a fixture on
current-events television shows and addressed gatherings on college campuses and
in other forums. Speaking at a 1971 “teach-in” at Harvard, he urged students to
“engage in civil disobedience” in protesting the war in Vietnam. “We got one
president out,” he told the cheering crowd, “and perhaps we can do it again.”
A Prison Uprising
Mr. Wicker had many detractors. He was attacked by conservatives and liberals,
by politicians high and low, by business interests, labor leaders and others,
and for a time his activism — crossing the line from observer to participant in
news events — put him in disfavor with many mainstream journalists. But his
speeches and columns continued unabated.
His most notable involvement took place during the uprising by 1,300 inmates who
seized 38 guards and workers at the Attica prison in upstate New York in
September 1971. Having written a sympathetic column on the death of the black
militant George Jackson at San Quentin, Mr. Wicker was asked by Attica’s rebels
to join a group of outsiders to inspect prison conditions and monitor
negotiations between inmates and officials. The radical lawyer William M.
Kunstler and Bobby Seale, chairman of the Black Panther Party, also went in, and
the observers took on the role of mediators.
Mr. Wicker, in a column, described a night in the yard with the rebels:
flickering oil-drum fires, bull-necked convicts armed with bats and iron pipes,
faceless men in hoods or football helmets huddled on mattresses behind wooden
barricades. He wrote: “This is another world — terrifying to the outsider, yet
imposing in its strangeness — behind those massive walls, in this murmurous
darkness, within the temporary but real power of desperate men.”
Talks broke down over inmate demands for amnesty and the ouster of Russell G.
Oswald, the state corrections commissioner. Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller rejected
appeals by the observers to go to Attica, and after a four-day standoff,
troopers and guards stormed the prison. Ten hostages and 29 inmates were killed
by the authorities’ gunfire in what witnesses called a turkey shoot; three
inmates were killed by other convicts, who also beat a guard to death.
Afterward, many prisoners were beaten and abused in reprisals.
Mr. Wicker wrote a book about the uprising, “A Time to Die” (1975). Most critics
hailed it as his best book, although some chided him for sympathizing with the
inmates. “Attica,” a television movie starring Morgan Freeman as a jailhouse
lawyer and George Grizzard as Mr. Wicker, was made by ABC in 1980.
Fiction and Nonfiction
Mr. Wicker produced a shelf of books: 10 novels, ranging from potboilers under
the pen name Paul Connolly to murder mysteries and political thrillers, and 10
nonfiction books that re-examined the legacies of ex-presidents, race relations
in America, the press and other subjects.
Mr. Wicker’s first nonfiction book was “Kennedy Without Tears: The Man Beneath
the Myth” (1964), a 61-page look back that some critics said recapitulated
popular notions of an orator of charm and wit but did not penetrate the armor of
sentiment growing over the dead president.
“JFK and LBJ: The Influence of Personality Upon Politics,” (1968), was better
received. It analyzed the character of the two presidents to explain why Kennedy
was unable to push many programs through Congress and why Johnson’s credibility
was a casualty of the Vietnam conflict.
Mr. Wicker’s “On Press” (1978) enlarged on complaints he had made for years: the
myth of objectivity, reliance on official and anonymous sources. Far from being
robust and uninhibited, he wrote, the press was often a toady to government and
Published shortly before Mr. Wicker retired, “One of Us: Richard Nixon and the
American Dream” (1991) offered a surprising reassessment of the president he had
scorned 20 years earlier. Nixon, credited with high marks in foreign policy,
mainly for opening doors to China, actually deserved more notice for domestic
achievements, Mr. Wicker argued, especially in desegregating Southern schools.
Mr. Wicker later wrote “Tragic Failure: Racial Integration in America,” (1996),
arguing that black Americans should abandon the Democratic Party and forge a new
liberal movement. And he produced “On the Record: An Insider’s Guide to
Journalism” (2001), “Dwight D. Eisenhower” (2002), “George Herbert Walker Bush”
(2004) and “Shooting Star: The Brief Arc of Joe McCarthy” (2006).
His political novel “Facing the Lions” (1973) was on The Times best-seller list
for 18 weeks. His later novels were “Unto This Hour” (1984), a Civil War story
on the best-seller list for 15 weeks; “Donovan’s Wife” (1992), a satire on
sleazy politics; and “Easter Lilly” (1998), about a black woman tried for the
murder of a white jail guard in the South.
A Young Journalist
Mr. Wicker was a hefty man, 6 feet 2 inches tall, with a ruddy face, jowls,
petulant lips and a lock of unruly hair that dangled boyishly on a high
forehead. He toiled in tweeds in pinstriped Washington, but seemed more suited
to a hammock and straw hat on a lazy summer day. The casual gait, the easygoing
manner, the down-home drawl set a tone for audiences, but masked a fiery
temperament, a ferocious work ethic, a tigerish competitiveness and a stubborn
idealism, qualities that made him a perceptive observer of the American scene
for more than a half century.
Thomas Grey Wicker was born on June 18, 1926, in Hamlet, N.C., the son of
Delancey David, a railroad freight conductor, and Esta Cameron Wicker. He worked
on his high school newspaper and decided to make journalism his career.
After Navy service in World War II, he studied journalism at the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill, graduating in 1948. Over the next decade, he was
an editor and reporter at several newspapers in North Carolina, including The
Winston-Salem Journal, eventually becoming its Washington correspondent.
Mr. Wicker married the former Neva Jewett McLean in 1949. The couple had two
children and were divorced in 1973. In 1974, he married Pamela Hill, a producer
of television documentaries. Besides his wife, he is survived by the children of
his first marriage, a daughter, Cameron Wicker, and a son, Thomas Grey Wicker
Jr.; two stepdaughters, Kayce Freed Jennings and Lisa Freed; and a stepson,
In 1957-58, Mr. Wicker was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, and in 1959 became
associate editor of The Nashville Tennessean. In 1960, Mr. Reston hired him for
The Times’s Washington bureau, one of “Scotty’s boys,” a cadre of protégés that
included Max Frankel, Anthony Lewis and Russell Baker.
Mr. Wicker covered Congress and the Kennedy White House, the 1960 political
campaigns and presidential trips abroad. His output was prodigious — 700
articles in his first few years, many of them on the front page, others in the
form of news analysis in The New York Times Magazine or the Week in Review.
His work was often entertaining as well as informative. “The most familiar voice
in Ameriker lahst yeeah warz that of a Boston Irishman with Harvard overtones
who sounded vaguely like an old recording of Franklin D. Roosevelt speeded up to
90 r.p.m.’s,” Mr. Wicker wrote for the magazine, summing up 241 Kennedy speeches
in his first year in the presidency. “Nor will the Beacon Street ‘a’ and the
Bunker Hill ‘r’ fall any less frequently on the American eeah in the coming
Mr. Wicker was named chief of the Washington bureau on Sept. 1, 1964, at the
insistence of his mentor, Mr. Reston, who had asked to be relieved. While the
job involved managerial duties, Mr. Wicker was an indifferent administrator. He
continued to cover Washington and national news, and to write news analyses and
magazine articles. In 1966, he took on Mr. Krock’s column, adding to his
In 1968, after complaints by Times editors in New York that Mr. Wicker was
devoting too much attention to his writing, The Times announced that James
Greenfield, a former Time magazine reporter and State Department official, would
replace him as bureau chief.
Mr. Wicker and some colleagues, who saw the move as an effort to rein in the
relative independence the bureau had enjoyed under Mr. Reston, vehemently
opposed the appointment. The publisher, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, withdrew Mr.
Greenfield’s name and named Mr. Frankel as bureau chief. Mr. Wicker became
associate editor, a title he retained until his retirement, and after 1972 wrote
his column from New York.
Besides columns and books, Mr. Wicker wrote short stories and freelance articles
that appeared in The Atlantic, Esquire, Harper’s, Life, The New Republic, The
New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, Playboy, Rolling Stone and Vogue. He
received many awards and honorary degrees from a dozen universities.
Tom Wicker, Times Journalist, Dies at 85,
Hoare knew how
the News of the World could be
The courageous whistleblower
who claimed Andy Coulson
knew about phone hacking
had a powerful motive for speaking out
This article was published on guardian.co.uk
at 18.46 BST
on Monday 18 July
A version appeared on p2 of the Main section section
of the Guardian
on Tuesday 19 July 2011.
It was last modified at 07.18 BST on Tuesday 19 July
At a time
when the reputation of News of the World journalists is at rock bottom, it needs
to be said that the paper's former showbusiness correspondent Sean Hoare, who
died on Monday, was a lovely man.
In the saga of the phone-hacking scandal, he distinguished himself by being the
first former NoW journalist to come out on the record, telling the New York
Times last year that his former friend and editor, Andy Coulson, had actively
encouraged him to hack into voicemail.
That took courage. But he had a particularly powerful motive for speaking. He
knew how destructive the News of the World could be, not just for the targets of
its exposés, but also for the ordinary journalists who worked there, who got
caught up in its remorseless drive for headlines.
Explaining why he had spoken out, he told me: "I want to right a wrong, lift the
lid on it, the whole culture. I know, we all know, that the hacking and other
stuff is endemic. Because there is so much intimidation. In the newsroom, you
have people being fired, breaking down in tears, hitting the bottle."
He knew this very well, because he was himself a victim of the News of the
World. As a showbusiness reporter, he had lived what he was happy to call a
privileged life. But the reality had ruined his physical health: "I was paid to
go out and take drugs with rock stars – get drunk with them, take pills with
them, take cocaine with them. It was so competitive. You are going to go beyond
the call of duty. You are going to do things that no sane man would do. You're
in a machine."
While it was happening, he loved it. He came from a working-class background of
solid Arsenal supporters, always voted Labour, defined himself specifically as a
"clause IV" socialist who still believed in public ownership of the means of
production. But, working as a reporter, he suddenly found himself up to his
elbows in drugs and delirium.
He rapidly arrived at the Sun's Bizarre column, then run by Coulson. He
recalled: "There was a system on the Sun. We broke good stories. I had a good
relationship with Andy. He would let me do what I wanted as long as I brought in
a story. The brief was, 'I don't give a fuck'."
He was a born reporter. He could always find stories. And, unlike some of his
nastier tabloid colleagues, he did not play the bully with his sources. He was
naturally a warm, kind man, who could light up a lamp-post with his talk. From
Bizarre, he moved to the Sunday People, under Neil Wallis, and then to the News
of the World, where Andy Coulson had become deputy editor. And, persistently, he
did as he was told and went out on the road with rock stars, befriending them,
bingeing with them, pausing only to file his copy.
He made no secret of his massive ingestion of drugs. He told me how he used to
start the day with "a rock star's breakfast" – a line of cocaine and a Jack
Daniels – usually in the company of a journalist who now occupies a senior
position at the Sun. He reckoned he was using three grammes of cocaine a day,
spending about £1,000 a week. Plus endless alcohol. Looking back, he could see
it had done him enormous damage. But at the time, as he recalled, most of his
colleagues were doing it, too.
"Everyone got overconfident. We thought we could do coke, go to Brown's, sit in
the Red Room with Paula Yates and Michael Hutchence. Everyone got a bit carried
It must have scared the rest of Fleet Street when he started talking – he had
bought, sold and snorted cocaine with some of the most powerful names in tabloid
journalism. One retains a senior position on the Daily Mirror. "I last saw him
in Little Havana," he recalled, "at three in the morning, on his hands and
knees. He had lost his cocaine wrap. I said to him, 'This is not really the
behaviour we expect of a senior journalist from a great Labour paper.' He said,
'Have you got any fucking drugs?'"
And the voicemail hacking was all part of the great game. The idea that it was a
secret, or the work of some "rogue reporter", had him rocking in his chair:
"Everyone was doing it. Everybody got a bit carried away with this power that
they had. No one came close to catching us." He would hack messages and delete
them so the competition could not hear them, or hack messages and swap them with
mates on other papers.
In the end, his body would not take it any more. He said he started to have
fits, that his liver was in such a terrible state that a doctor told him he must
be dead. And, as his health collapsed, he was sacked by the News of the World –
by his old friend Coulson.
When he spoke out about the voicemail hacking, some Conservative MPs were quick
to smear him, spreading tales of his drug use as though that meant he was
dishonest. He was genuinely offended by the lies being told by News
International and always willing to help me and other reporters who were trying
to expose the truth. He was equally offended when Scotland Yard's former
assistant commissioner, John Yates, assigned officers to interview him, not as a
witness but as a suspect. They told him anything he said could be used against
him, and, to his credit, he refused to have anything to do with them.
His health never recovered. He liked to say that he had stopped drinking, but he
would treat himself to some red wine. He liked to say he didn't smoke any more,
but he would stop for a cigarette on his way home. For better and worse, he was
a Fleet Street man.
Sean Hoare knew how destructive the News of the World
could be, G, 18.7.2011,
Columnist Chronicling the Power Elite,
Dies at 80
January 29, 2009
The New York Times
By WILLIAM GRIMES
James Brady, who helped start the Page Six gossip column at The New York
Post, chronicled the doings of the New York power elite in columns for
Advertising Age and Crain’s New York Business and wrote a gripping memoir of his
combat experience in the Korean War, died on Monday after collapsing at his home
in Manhattan. He was 80.
His daughter Fiona Brady said that the cause had not been determined but that he
had a stroke several years ago.
For more than 30 years Mr. Brady turned a knowing eye on the literati,
fashionistas and tycoons who defined life at the top in Manhattan. He also
interviewed Hollywood celebrities for Parade magazine. But nearly any topic that
caught his fancy made it into his columns.
In his final “Brady’s Bunch” column in Advertising Age in 2005, he reviewed some
of the subjects that he had written about over the years. They included Paris
and Coco Chanel, war and peace, “the Hamptons, football, red wine, TV, Scott
Fitzgerald, skiing with my grandchildren and Elaine’s restaurant.”
The list went on. And on.
“He was a throwback to the Damon Runyon days of newspapermen,” the gossip
columnist Liz Smith, who worked for Mr. Brady at Harper’s Bazaar and The Post,
said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “He did just about everything, and
probably 28 other things I don’t even know about. He worked hard, and he made it
James Winston Brady grew up in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, and worked his way
through Manhattan College as a copyboy at The Daily News in New York. After
being called up from the reserves by the Marine Corps, he went to Korea in 1951
and wound up leading a rifle platoon in some of the heaviest combat of the war.
He later wrote about his Korean experience in an acclaimed memoir, “The Coldest
War” (1990), one of his several books about Korea and the Marines, including
“The Scariest Place in the World” (2005), “Why Marines Fight” (2007) and the
novels “The Marines of Autumn” (2000) and “The Marine” (2003). Just days before
he died, he finished editing “Hero of the Pacific: The Life of Legendary Marine
John Basilone,” to be published by Wiley in November.
On returning to the United States, he was hired as a business news reporter by
Women’s Wear Daily. Its parent company, Fairchild Publications, later sent him
to Washington to cover Capitol Hill and to London and Paris to run its bureaus
there. In Paris he became a good friend of Coco Chanel, who, for reasons
unknown, called him “mon petit indien” (“my little Indian”).
In 1958 he married Florence Kelly, who survives him. In addition to his daughter
Fiona, of the Riverdale section of the Bronx, he is also survived by a brother,
Msgr. Tom Brady of Brooklyn; another daughter, Susan Konig of Croton-on-Hudson,
N.Y.; and four grandchildren.
Mr. Brady returned to New York as publisher of Women’s Wear Daily in 1964 and
later started its spinoff publication W. In 1971 he took over the editorship of
Harper’s Bazaar, but his efforts to inject a more youthful note into the
publication earned him a quick exit, although he put his misadventures to good
use in the publishing memoir “Superchic” (1974).
He was quickly hired by Clay Felker to develop and write the “Intelligencer”
column for New York magazine, and, just as quickly, lured away by the publisher
Rupert Murdoch, then extending his reach from Australia and Britain to the
United States. Mr. Brady initially edited The National Star (now The Star), the
supermarket tabloid, and then moved to The Post after Mr. Murdoch bought it in
Whether Mr. Brady alone gave birth to Page Six remains in dispute, but he was
present at the creation, gave the column its name and was its first editor,
briefly, before being called on to edit Mr. Murdoch’s latest acquisition, New
York magazine. He returned to Page Six as editor in the early 1980s.
A taste for the high life and an upbeat, gregarious nature made Mr. Brady a
marathon chronicler of the upper reaches of Manhattan social life, where he was
a curious enthusiast rather than a climber. He began writing a column for
Advertising Age in 1977, and when Crain’s New York Business started up in 1984,
he simply doubled his output with a column there, too. The social material that
did not find its way into his columns fed into a series of novels set in the
Hamptons. (He had a summer house in East Hampton, N.Y.)
Beyond New York, he was familiar to millions of readers as the author of “In
Step With,” a weekly celebrity profile for Parade magazine, which he began
writing in 1986. His last Parade column, on Kevin Bacon, is scheduled to appear
on Feb. 15.
James Brady, Columnist
Chronicling the Power Elite, Dies at 80,
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