The following is excerpted from the Deseret News. To read the full article, CLICK HERE.
Fifty years ago, at the apex of Richard Nixon’s ignominious political career, the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting went to the president’s worst nemesis — a portly father of nine who taught Sunday School on the Sabbath and brought presidents and dictators to their knees on weekdays.
Jack Anderson’s 1972 Pulitzer Prize reporting, which exposed just one of Nixon’s scandals, came after three decades of building his reputation as a Washington outsider. He was proudly despised by his colleagues in the press who openly called him primitive, unsophisticated and crass, with the bombast of a carnival barker and polyester suits held up by suspenders from cheap haberdashers. Newsweek dubbed him a “pitiless self-appointed judge of human propriety” whose socks drooped. Time implied that some members of his Latter-day Saint congregation would “choke on the words” when they called him Brother Anderson. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover said he was “lower than the regurgitated filth of vultures.”
Yet, a jury of his peers could not withhold their greatest prize from him because, as history judges him 50 years later, the irascible Anderson from Utah was the father of unflinching investigative journalism.
He was a second-generation “muckraker,” proudly inheriting the title from his mentor, Washington syndicated columnist Drew Pearson. Other muckrakers had preceded them, but it was perhaps Anderson who grew the business into full flower and won himself journalistic respect in the process. Anderson’s column, called the Washington Merry-Go Round, was a strange hybrid in the press — a daily column that was syndicated in hundreds of newspapers, produced by a small team of usually rookie investigative reporters specializing in bringing down public servants who forgot their public trust.
In an era of contentious politics and journalism, Jack Anderson’s career still casts a long shadow.
Wherever he went, Anderson earned the taint of showman. When the staid press corps covered congressional hearings from the gallery, Anderson demanded hearings on his own stories and elbowed his way in to testify. When lawmakers would skulk past a bank of microphones outside the hearing room, offering “no comment” on his exposés, Anderson would commandeer the cameras and hold his own press conferences deploying an ease with words learned as a street-corner missionary. While hunting Nazis hiding in Argentina, Anderson befriended Nicholas Eichmann, the son of Adolph Eichmann, the imprisoned architect of the Holocaust. Anderson invited Nick to spend a few weeks in the family home in the D.C. suburbs, where he settled comfortably in with the Anderson kids while Jack pumped Nick for stories about his father.
By day Anderson wielded the most feared pen in Washington. By night, he went home to nine rowdy children and his wife Olivia “Libby” Farley, a Latter-day Saint girl from a coal-mining town in West Virginia, who preferred sweat pants over Washington couture. Once when the Andersons were vacationing in Atlantic City, they happened to be staying at a hotel where President Lyndon Johnson was partying with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The president recognized Anderson and invited him to join the party. Libby was already in their room, changing out of her evening wear for a promised walk on the boardwalk. Jack called up to the room to invite her to the party, and she arrived in her favorite uniform — casual slacks, a cheap blouse and scuffed shoes. Jack whispered, “Libby, we’re guests of the president of the United States. Why didn’t you wear your dress?” She quietly reminded him that they were supposed to be going for a walk, with or without the president. LBJ kept Libby by his side the rest of the evening, charmed by her lack of pretense.
To read the full article, CLICK HERE.