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Tom Wicker, Journalist and Author, Dies at 85 (covered JFK assassination)

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alp227 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-25-11 04:14 PM
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Tom Wicker, Journalist and Author, Dies at 85 (covered JFK assassination)
Edited on Fri Nov-25-11 04:19 PM by alp227
Source: NYT

Tom Wicker, one of postwar Americas most distinguished journalists, who covered the assassination of President John F. Kennedy for The New York Times and became the papers Washington bureau chief and an iconoclastic political columnist for 25 years, died on Friday at his home near Rochester, Vt. He was 85 and also the author of 20 books.

The cause was apparently a heart attack, his wife, Pamela Wicker, said.

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 Timess 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 riflemans shots cracking across Dealey Plaza, the wounded president lurching forward in the open limousine, the blur of speed to Parkland Memorial Hospital and the nations 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 J.F.K. itinerary sheet. It filled two front-page columns and the entire second page, and vaulted the writer to journalistic prominence overnight.

Read more:

I recently read Wicker's biography of Dwight Eisenhower.
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cachukis Donating Member (232 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-25-11 04:59 PM
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1. Followed him for years. An iconoclast to the end.
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rtassi Donating Member (486 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-25-11 05:31 PM
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2. +1
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tpsbmam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-26-11 01:21 PM
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3. I'm surprised at the lack of DU attention to Tom Wicker's death
He was a great liberal voice, the kind we pine for.

From HuffPo, written by Gary Hart:

Tom Wicker had a conscience. He championed equal and civil rights and got deeply involved in prison conditions after becoming engaged in the Attica prison riots. Today that sense of conscience has been replaced by snarky opinions, cute personal attacks, denigration of political figures, and insider cleverness. Today's political journalists start from the position that the world would work much better if political leaders would simply govern the way the journalist thinks they should. Mr. Wicker knew that his job was not to govern: his job was to provide a conscience for those who governed, to point out the gap between what was and what should be. He wrote at a time when the word scandal applied to poverty, hunger, homelessness, and injustice.

From the NY Times (where he was a columnist for 25 years):


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 libertarians 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.


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 Atticas 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.

He later wrote a book about it (A Time to Die) which was well received but he was excoriated for being too sympathetic to the prisoners.

Mr. Wickers 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.

Sound familiar? He said this for a LONG time.

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 Insiders Guide to Journalism (2001), Dwight D. Eisenhower (2002), George Herbert Walker Bush (2004) and Shooting Star: The Brief Arc of Joe McCarthy (2006).

For you, Mr. Wicker. I remember your presence & columns well -- your voice is still appreciated.

:loveya: :yourock:

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