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Vocapedia > Media > Journalism > Journalist > Columnist




















































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























 advice column
















sex advice columnist        USA



















muckracking        USA










Slickergate > The Mirror's City Slickers column

how to manipulate the stock market        UK











Russell Wayne Baker    1925-2019        USA










Leslie Hunter Whitten Jr.        USA        1928-2017


Les Whitten (...)

shared a byline

with Jack Anderson

on a nationally syndicated

newspaper column

that mercilessly exposed

Washington’s foibles and frauds

and who once even spied

on J. Edgar Hoover,

the director of the F.B.I.









Thomas Grey Wicker        USA        1926-2011


Tom Wicker,

one of postwar America’s

most distinguished journalists,

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









James Richard Hughes Bacon        USA        1914-2010


James Bacon

spent six decades


Hollywood’s biggest stars

as a reporter, author

and syndicated columnist









columnist    UK
















Daily Mail writer / columnist > Lynda Lee-Potter        UK














columnist        USA








columnist > USA > Mary Tyler Ivins    1944-2007


(...) liberal newspaper columnist

who delighted

in skewering politicians

and interpreting, and mocking,

her Texas culture



Ms. Ivins

waged a public battle

against breast cancer

after her diagnosis in 1999.




In her syndicated column,

which appeared

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        1933-2010










political columnist > William Safire        1929-2009        USA











columnist > Keith Spencer Waterhouse    1929-2009
























New York Post columnist James Brady        USA    1928-2009











Times columnist Alan Coren        1938-2007










New York Times > Opinion > Columnists / Editorials        USA










commentator > Charles Rice McDowell Jr.        USA        1926-2010



for The Richmond Times-Dispatch

who brought a folksy manner

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”











Tom Wicker,

Times Journalist,

Dies at 85


November 25, 2011

The New York Times



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 Texas.

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 newspapers.

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 Maryland.

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 business.

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, Christopher Hill.


In Washington

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 yeeah.”

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 workload.

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, NYT, 25.11.2011,






Sean Hoare knew how destructive

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


Monday 18 July 2011
18.46 BST
Nick Davies
Andy Coulson
This article was published on guardian.co.uk
at 18.46 BST
on Monday 18 July 2011.
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 2011.


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 away."

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,






James Brady,

Columnist Chronicling the Power Elite,

Dies at 80


January 29, 2009
The New York Times


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 seem effortless.”

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 1976.

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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