Tag Archives: Terry Ganey

Missouri film wins Chinese ‘Oscar’

A film that recounts the Joplin Globe’s coverage of the deadly tornado that devastated that southwestern Missouri city in May 2011 has won the China Academy Award for Documentary Film in the Foreign Language category.

The Missouri film, “Deadline in Disaster,” beat competition that included a National Geographic project that focused on the decade of the 1980s and a BBC documentary on the history of the world.

More than 160 people were killed in the Joplin tornado, including an employee of the newspaper. The documentary recounted how the newspaper staff overcame personal hardships to help the community cope with the tragedy.

“Deadline in Disaster” was funded by the Missouri Press Association Foundation, and was directed by Beth Pike and Stephen Hudnell, both Emmy-award winning journalists. Also assisting in the project was Scott Charton, a former Associated Press correspondent.

More information about the film can be found at the website http://www.deadlineindisaster.com

Mills to step down as dean of Mizzou’s School of Journalism

Dean Mills, who has served as dean of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism for nearly 25 years, announced Feb. 6 that he would be stepping down effective Aug. 31.

“I realize I can’t hold onto this job forever just because I continue to enjoy it,” Mills wrote in an email to his colleagues. “It’s time (some of you might say way past time) for the school to have a new dean.”

Mills will remain on the campus in a part-time position as director of the fellows program at the Reynolds Journalism Institute, an enterprise launched and funded during Mills’ tenure to experiment with new ways to deliver journalism.

Steve Weinberg, author of a history of the world’s oldest journalism school, said Mills leaves a legacy that includes expansion of the school’s international connections, especially in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

With Mills leading the journalism school, the female faculty was expanded “with the gender gap closing significantly,” Weinberg said.

Mills earned a doctorate in communications in 1981 from the University of Illinois. Before coming to Missouri in 1989, he served as director of the Pennsylvania State University’s School of Journalism before becoming coordinator of graduate study in communications at California State University-Fullerton.

Mills also served as Moscow bureau chief for the Baltimore Sun in 1969 and worked as a reporter in Washington, D.C., between 1972 and 1975.

Senator bars television coverage of committee session

A state senator has barred television coverage of his committee’s consideration of legislation criminalizing the enforcement of federal gun laws in Missouri.

As the senate’s General Laws Committee prepared Jan. 28 to consider the bill, chairman Brian Nieves announced: “Executive sessions are not videotaped, so videos will need to be turned off at this point.” Earlier, Nieves had ordered a reporter for a Columbia-based television station to remove his camera and tripod from the committee room.

“This is the first time I can ever remember that television coverage of a hearing was effectively prohibited since executive committee meetings were opened up in the early ’70s,” said Phill Brooks, the dean of the press corps and the director of the state government reporting program of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

Nieves, a Republican from Washington, is the sponsor of the bill that would declare invalid federal gun laws and make it a crime for a federal employee to enforce them. The bill would also let school districts to designate trained teachers to carry concealed weapons.

The bill also would require a federal agent to notify the local sheriff before serving a warrant. A similar bill passed by the legislature last year failed to become law after Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed it.

According to Brooks, after the first hearing on the bill last week, Nieves announced that tripods would not be allowed in the committee room, and that a 24-hour notice would have to be given to his office for a camera to be brought in to videotape the meeting.

“Without a tripod, you’d get terrible shaky video,” Brooks said.

Television cameras mounted on tripods are used to cover all other legislative committee meetings.

On Monday, Nieves’ office was given notice by KOMU-TV, Channel 8 in Columbia, of a request to cover Tuesday’s hearing. Jessica Johnson, Nieves’ assistant, responded to the request with an email saying, “Yes, it is OK for them to video today. However, the senator is requesting that no tripods or machines that prevent the view of people be used.”

Brooks said that not only were tripods banned, but cameras were to be placed behind the seating for general public, meaning for video “all you will have is the back of the heads of the witnesses.”

“My reporter made the decision, and I agreed with it, that we would put up the tripod in the normal place where cameras have always been located to cover committee hearings,” Brooks said. “And if the senator objected, he could tell us.”

Nieves had one of his staff order the reporter, Michael Doudna, a journalism school student, to remove the camera and tripod.

There was no explanation for Nieves’ prohibition of videotaping of the committee’s executive session, in which senators discuss and vote on the bills before them. Doudna returned to the committee room without his camera to cover the meeting. The committee approved the bill.

Nieves did not respond to the GJR’s emailed and telephoned requests for an interview. But his assistant, Johnson, shared her email exchange regarding the television coverage request.

“Senator Nieves would prefer that you take up any further concerns you may have with that actual reporter,” Johnson said.

Loesch’s celebrity turns her journalism professor into a cynic

Publisher’s Note: An earlier version of this story posted online did not contain contain final edits. This version is the same as the one printed in the GJR magazine distributed to subscribers.

When the Missouri Legislature failed to override Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a tax cut bill, St. Louis Post-Dispatch political reporter Kevin McDermott knew where to find the far right’s reaction.

Dana Loesch.

“FIFTEEN WORTHLESS REPUBLICANS!” Loesch screamed into the Twittersphere shortly after 15 Missouri House Republicans refused to join the override attempt. Loesch’s quote appeared high in McDermott’s story.

“Most political writers in the state have to pay attention to what she’s saying not because she’s a font of wisdom,” McDermott explained. “As a conservative barometer, she represents a certain part of the right-wing spectrum.”

St. Louis Tea Party founder Dana Loesch, 35, is a St. Louis radio broadcaster. She’s never sought public office nor covered a political campaign as a journalist. But she developed a following as a popular local Internet blogger. Now in the world of strong opinion, where facts get lost amid all the shouting, Loesch’s in-your-face conservative persona has received an outsized share of notoriety.

“People of Dana’s ilk are a part of what radio is today,” said Frank Absher, executive director of the St. Louis Media History Foundation. “She’s wise to take advantage of the fact that her shtick is what’s going on now.”

Absher pointed out that, in the 1930s, millions listened spellbound to Father Charles Coughlin, a radio broadcaster who supported Hitler’s policies while railing against Jewish bankers.

“Everybody was listening to the guy rant on with vile anti-Semitic comments,” Absher said. “But people listened to him, and radio stations carried him.”

For Loesch (pronounced “Lesh”), matching a right-wing agenda to a compelling on-the-air presence contributed to her emergence. Television networks, for fear of being labeled as a part of the “liberal media conspiracy,” added a place for her at the roundtable of Sunday morning news talk shows.

Her views on the national debt, presidential politics and foreign policy were shared with millions of viewers along with the likes of George Will, Donna Brazile and Jon Karl. She debated constitutional law with Eliot Spitzer.

Loesch, who did not respond to repeated requests for an interview, has come a long way from her days as a part-time blogger for the Post-Dispatch. Loesch graduated from Fox High School in Jefferson County and attended St. Louis Community College at Meramec before transferring to Webster University to study journalism, according to a profile in the St. Louis Riverfront Times.

Don Corrigan, a professor of journalism at Webster’s School of Communications, remembers her as Dana Eaton (her maiden name) who transferred in with a group of Meramec students.

“She didn’t have the same fire in the belly as the others, and I was amazed when she started popping up on all these websites and news shows and sounding so strident,” Corrigan said. “To me, she was a small, shy girl trying to get through. She didn’t stand out at all, compared to the others who were excited by journalism.”

Eaton was a student in Corrigan’s print journalism class. Watching her now, he doubts she has the intellectual grounding to really be steeped in conservative philosophy.

“I suspect she’s developed this persona and she knows how to use the talking points, but she’s not the kind who has read the books that make you the classic intellectual conservative who speaks to issues from some kind of depth,” Corrigan said.

Dana Eaton dropped out of Webster after meeting Chris Loesch, her husband-to-be. She disclosed some of her own personal background while guest hosting the Glenn Beck program.

“I was a broke, unwed student from a single-parent household when I became pregnant with my first child,” she said.

Loesch has had money troubles. St. Louis County Court records show she was sued in 2002 by a New Hampshire corporation for failing to pay a credit-card bill. When she did not appear in court, a default judgment was issued, ordering payment of $2,008 in principal, interest and fees.

Jefferson County Circuit Court records show the Missouri Department of Revenue filed a case against Christopher and Dana Loesch in January 2011, seeking $2,009 in back taxes. A tax lien was filed, and in June of this year the amount was repaid.

Loesch came to public attention during political protests, and from posting a blog titled “Mamalogues,” a weekly fixture on the Post-Dispatch website. Her candid and clever writing discussed the travails of a housewife raising two children.

Then, luck and timing advanced her career. She co-founded the St. Louis Tea Party just as television networks searched for a conservative voice.

“There weren’t a ton of Tea Party people who did well on TV, and she did,” said Eric Boehlert, a senior fellow at Media Matters for America, a site dedicated to correcting conservative misinformation in the media. “If you go back to 2009, they desperately had to have that Tea Party voice, and she benefited from that.”

Loesch’s beauty, poise and gleaming white teeth met the standards for a medium in which appearance matters as much as substance.

Pontificating on all things political and social, she makes no claim to being fair and balanced. She entertains people while feeding their anger. Sometimes her supercharged rhetoric has caused problems.

When approving of Marines urinating on Taliban fighters’ bodies in Afghanistan, Loesch said, “I’d drop trou and do it, too.” CNN commentator Piers Morgan has banned her from his show for a remark she made following the beheading of a British soldier.

Still, Loesch gets invited to public speaking engagements. Guns and abortion are favorite topics. She explained the Constitution at a Tea Party rally in Wisconsin, talked up the Second Amendment to Colorado gun activists and advised conservative Republican women in South Carolina.

Boehlert believes Loesch has two public personalities. The one on “ABC This Week” is that of a thoughtful representative of the right. The other is her name-calling social media character.

“She really does occupy the sophomore, junior-high level in debates, with some really nasty personal smears and using Twitter for name-calling,” Boehlert said.

Loesch has contributed to our deep political divide. In their book, “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks, how the American constitutional system collided with the new politics of extremism,” Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein wrote about the business model of extremism that pits the far right against the far left.

“CNN has settled on having regular showdowns pitting a bedrock liberal against a bedrock conservative,” the authors wrote. “For viewers, there is reinforcement that the only dialogue in the country is between polarized left and right, and that the alternative is cynical public relations with no convictions at all.”

Loesch is part of that dialogue.

She has a number of detractors and supporters. The blog “Dana Busted” tracks her mistakes and refers to her as “a serial liar.” Wonkette, the left-leaning online magazine, has called her “a sniveling rage sack.” The Libertarian Republican, a website devoted to the most conservative elements of the GOP, says she is “America’s sexiest right-winger.”

Loesch’s career got a boost in October 2010, when Andrew Breitbart, a conservative publisher, hired her to be a contributing editor to his news aggregation site Breitbart.com. She also supplied copy to BigJournalism.com.

Boehlert, the author of “Bloggers on the Bus: how the Internet changed politics and the press,” said Loesch’s writing approach was an adaption of right-wing radio, “with name-calling and factual errors, and knowing that your listeners are never going to call and seek corrections.”

Last June, Loesch wrote a piece for a right-wing blog, RedState, which erroneously claimed the Supreme Court’s decision recognizing the rights of same-sex couples was a big loss for Democrats. Loesch wrote that Democrats had pushed for passage of the federal anti-gay-marriage law, the Defense of Marriage Act, which the high court struck down.

McDermott called her on the mistake in his own online posting, pointing out she was getting “creative in outlining” the history of the law. What Loesch had written was the “opposite of true,” McDermott said.

But accuracy, objectivity, inquiry and verification are not to be found in Loesch’s toolbox. She is not a journalist and does not claim to be. In a lawsuit Loesch filed last year against Breitbart.com, she called herself a “writer, speaker and commentator whose profile has risen nationwide.”

In the lawsuit, filed in federal court in St. Louis, she claimed to be in “indentured servitude in limbo.” She had attempted to break her contract, and the suit said Breitbart.com had refused to release her while, at the same time, it refused to publish her work. By that time, Breitbart had passed away. The suit was later settled.

With the loss of the Breitbart.com platform, some think Loesch’s career has hit a flat spot. But she still has a perch at “The Dana Show,” a three-hour afternoon talkfest on KFTK-FM in St. Louis, and occasional television appearances. Her place seems secure on conservative radio.

Absher, who worked for five different radio stations in the St. Louis market before he retired, said a good general manager puts people on the air who attract listeners. Why are the airwaves filled with so many conservative commentators? Absher’s theory is that “liberals won’t embrace extreme radio, while conservatives will go to where people are saying what they want to hear. We seek out those things which don’t challenge us too much.”

Loesch’s former journalism professor has been affected by all the attention Loesch has received.

“I had good journalists and writers who struggled to find jobs,” Corrigan said. “They were hard-working students who were enthused and studied hard. Now they work for Podunk weeklies for $20,000 to $30,000 a year.

“All the stuff she says on TV shows she’s shallow, but in a way the criticism here is for our media, because they actually propped up somebody like that as a legitimate spokesperson. I give her credit for being adept at pushing the right buttons to get where she is. There is no credit to be given to our form of television today, or for the people who have given us this made-up persona. It’s made me very cynical about the media world that we live in.”

(Gateway Journalism Review publisher William Freivogel contributed information for this story.)

Terry Ganey is the St. Louis editor of Gateway Journalism Review. He has more than 40 years’ experience as an investigative reporter and political correspondent, and he has worked for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

 

 

Private papers paint fuller picture of legendary reporter

In 1976, Aloysia Hamalainen went to work in the Washington bureau and eventually became its office manager extraordinaire. Her maiden name was Aloysia Pietsch (pronounced peach) then, and as how everyone in the bureau was addressed by last name, that’s how she was known even after she married.

Aloysia Hamalainen

By then, Raymond Brandt had retired and had died. But sometime after Hamalainen took her post, Brandt’s nephew came in with papers that had been found among his property.

“These papers were removed from the office when Brandt retired and were out of the office for 20 to 30 years,” Hamalainen recalled. “They were private papers that Brandt brought home because he apparently didn’t want anybody else to see them.”

In addition to Charles Ross’ letter to Bruce Bliven, among the papers is a brief response from the New Republic editor. “I can only say that I regret deeply that I didn’t have this information in the office when we wrote our few lines about Paul Anderson,” Bliven wrote.

(Ross died of a heart attack in the White House Dec. 5, 1950, while serving as Harry S Truman’s press secretary. Ross’ papers are housed at the Truman Library in Independence, Mo., but this exchange between Ross and Bliven over Anderson’s death is not among them.)

Brandt’s papers are kept at the State Historical Society of Missouri in Columbia, but the memos that were traded between him and Reese are not part of that collection. Neither is the correspondence between Brandt and a Memphis State University student who had written in 1965 to ask about Anderson. The letters are among the papers preserved by Hamalainen.

The student was writing a biographical sketch on Anderson, and he pestered Brandt with questions: “If possible, I would like to know what type of reporter he was, as seen by his co-workers. Also, how he went about getting a story and what he did with it after he had gotten it. In addition, what you would consider to be his biggest assets and his biggest shortcomings.”

A few days later, Brandt sent his response: “I regret that I do not have the time to give you adequate information about the complex, contradictory character of the late Paul Y. Anderson as a reporter and as a person. Several years ago, a graduate of the Columbia University School of Journalism, after more than a year’s study of Anderson’s writing and interviews with persons who had known him, concluded the true story could best be told in a novel.”

Terry Ganey is the St. Louis editor of Gateway Journalism Review. He has more than 40 years’ experience as an investigative reporter and political correspondent, and he has worked for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

 

The tragic end of Paul Y. Anderson

Paul Y. Anderson isn’t a household name like Woodward and Bernstein. But Anderson’s Teapot Dome stories in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch were to the first half of the 20th century what the Watergate stories were to the last half.
At the time of Anderson’s suicide, a decade after the Teapot Dome disclosures, the New Republic blamed Joseph Pulitzer II’s Post-Dispatch and its famed managing editor, O.K. Bovard, for mistreating Anderson. That claim is contested by a previously unreported letter provided to GJR’s St. Louis editor, Terry Ganey. It provides a new take on the sad end of the famous reporter – and a reminder of a day when the Post-Dispatch was at the center of Washington reporting.

 

If it hadn’t been for a doctor’s order that sent Charles Ross home to recuperate, we probably wouldn’t know as much as we do now about the demise of Paul Y. Anderson, one of the greatest reporters in the history of the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Forced to take a few days off from his job as the editor of the newspaper’s editorial page, Ross had time to compose a five-page typewritten letter describing the tragic arc of Anderson’s storied career, and how the newspaper’s management, including publisher Joseph Pulitzer II and managing editor Oliver K. Bovard, attempted to salvage it.

“They did, all of us did, everything for him that was humanly possible to do,” Ross wrote. “Suffice it that Paul refused – or was unable – to bring himself under control. Certainly he was given every opportunity to do so.”

In the end, before turning on himself, Anderson would turn on Bovard and Pulitzer, too, at least according to Ross.
Written 75 years ago, Ross’ letter came at the end of a year of major changes at the Post-Dispatch, which by 1938 had achieved national journalistic prominence thanks to Pulitzer’s support, Bovard’s management and Anderson’s legwork.

That year began with Anderson’s dismissal. In August, Bovard resigned. And in December, Anderson took his own life with an overdose of sleeping pills.

Books about Pulitzer and Bovard have documented Anderson’s alcoholism as the reason for his firing. Now more details about the troubles that plagued him near the end of his career – and how the Post-Dispatch attempted to deal with them – have emerged from documents saved by Aloysia Pietsch Hamalainen, the former office manager of the Post-Dispatch bureau in Washington, D.C.

The papers include memos, letters and reports. Some of the documents show up in other collections, such as the papers of Joseph Pulitzer II in the Library of Congress. But others, such as Ross’ letter, have come to light for the first time.

Dated Dec. 20, 1938, the correspondence from Ross – who later became Harry S Truman’s press secretary – is most valuable. It was written by a man who had worked side by side with Anderson on some of the newspaper’s biggest stories. Ross sometimes covered for Anderson when he couldn’t do his work – and, as Anderson’s colleague and supervisor, Ross sometimes found himself “in the embarrassing position of having the confidence of both sides.”
The letter, addressed to Bruce Bliven, the editor of the New Republic, was written in response to an editorial note about Anderson’s death that appeared that month in the magazine under the headline, “A Great Reporter Dies.”

The editorial said Anderson had left the Post-Dispatch because of “a needless and trivial misunderstanding” between him and Bovard, “and two hot-tempered men impulsively broke off a happy relation of many years’ standing.” The editorial went on to say such an incident would be avoided by rules being developed by the Newspaper Guild “against unilateral, arbitrary action by employers.”

The point of Ross’ letter was that the New Republic’s account was “almost wholly erroneous.” There was no misunderstanding between Anderson and Bovard, a managing editor of great renown.

“Paul’s dismissal,” Ross wrote, “was the result of frequent and protracted absences from duty over a period of five years or longer. To say that these lapses were due to drunkenness would oversimplify the matter, for Paul’s drinking was both cause and effect. Unless you knew Paul, I could not, short of a book beginning with his boyhood in Tennessee, hope to make his weakness clear. I give you my word that there was never a man more generously, more patiently, treated by an employer than was Paul by the Post-Dispatch management.”

And for good reason. Anderson was considered one of the greatest journalists of his time. For most of his 24 years with the Post-Dispatch, Anderson had filed compelling stories that beat the competition and sold newspapers. And for some time, the publisher and the editor held out hope that he could do so once again.

ANDERSON’S WORTH

In 1931, when the American Mercury’s Samuel Tait Jr. reflected on the lofty status of the Post-Dispatch, he singled out Anderson. “The Post-Dispatch might perhaps get along without Anderson, but it would not be the paper it is by a long, long way,” Tait wrote. “In almost every one of the achievements which have lifted it out of the gumbo, he has done a large share of the lifting.”

H.L. Mencken used the editorial page of the Baltimore Sun to call Anderson “one of the finest journalists in the country.”
Anderson risked his life to get news. His investigations put people in prison. His byline appeared over the major stories of the era: the Scopes trial in Dayton, Tenn., and the Leopold and Loeb murder trial in Chicago.

“His positive genius for reporting and writing put him in a class almost by himself,” Bovard had written to Pulitzer in 1927 when they dwelt on the topic of Anderson’s salary. “He is the ideal type of analytical reporter who gets all the salient facts and presents them in such a way as to give the dullest reader their relative values, and in a way to stir him to appreciate what he is reading, as contrasted with the more recorder type, with whom the lives of news editors are cursed, and who see only the surface indications.”

When Bovard sent Pulitzer the payroll records of Ross and Anderson, he wrote, “I think Anderson is really worth a good deal more than his present figure, and I have no doubt he could command more in the open market.”

Anderson was involved in the first two Pulitzer prizes the Post-Dispatch won for news reporting. In 1927, the Post-Dispatch’s John T. Rogers won the prize for stories that resulted in the resignation of a federal judge in the face of impeachment on corruption charges. The newspaper gave Anderson and Ross $500 each for their work contributing to that investigation.

In 1929, Anderson won the reporting prize for his investigation of what happened to $2.7 million in bonds that were part of a slush fund in the “Teapot Dome” scandal. Anderson first grappled with the story in 1922, and stayed with it on and off for six years.

His work exposed what had gone on during the Warren Harding administration, when lucrative leases to rich government oil reserves were turned over to private companies.

Anderson had exposed the “Watergate” of his time.

The Pulitzer Prize included a $1,000 award for Anderson, who earlier had received a $2,500 bonus from the Post-Dispatch for “general excellence.” In the 1930s, with the country in the depths of the Depression, the paper annually paid Anderson more than $16,000, which according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics would have the purchasing power of $223,000 today.

WITNESS TO VIOLENCE

According to “Never Been a Time,” Harper Barnes’ book about the 1917 East St. Louis, Ill., race riots, Anderson witnessed the deaths of more than a dozen African-Americans who had been lynched or shot. A special U.S. House committee that later investigated the riots said Anderson reported “what he saw without fear of consequences” and despite running “a daily risk of assassination.”

Barnes’ book described Anderson as “emotionally erratic, tough but brittle, given to bitter moods.” It also said Anderson was already drinking heavily, which was not unusual for newspapermen of the time, “but he went about it with a relentless lack of joy.”

Later working from the Washington, D.C., bureau of the Post-Dispatch, Anderson wrote about Army troops, with bayonets on their rifles, breaking up demonstrations of veterans seeking payment of military bonuses in the summer of 1932. “Paul Anderson heard an officer bark a command and then saw cavalrymen charge the crowd with drawn sabers,” according to “The Bonus Army” by Paul Dickson and Thomas Allen.

“Men, women and children fled shrieking across the broken ground,” Anderson wrote in a story that appeared in the Baltimore Sun. By then, Anderson’s copy was being shared with other newspapers, something Pulitzer had suggested to Bovard as a way of appeasing Anderson, who wanted wider exposure on the East Coast.
Anderson also was contributing articles regularly to the Nation and other national magazines, something Bovard and Pulitzer had approved in 1927, although the managing editor feared the additional work would affect his reporter’s performance.

“Anderson, as you know, is intense and conscientious and not the kind to do anything with his left hand,” Bovard wrote to Pulitzer. The editor feared for Anderson’s health, and mentioned a breakdown the reporter had suffered that “remains as a warning against overexertion.”

Among the documents included in the trove assembled by Hamalainen is a telegram from Bovard sent to Anderson in early 1937 advising him to take a doctor’s advice and “knock off 10 days or two weeks, at the end of which time I should hope you will be in good working form.”

 

CHILDHOOD BITTERNESS

 

Anderson was born in 1893 in Knoxville, Tenn., and at age 3 his father was killed in an industrial accident. Edmund Lambeth, a journalism professor who wrote a chapter about Anderson in a volume on journalists for the “Dictionary of Literary Biography,” believes the death of Anderson’s father played a role in the reporter’s later work as a muckraker. Lambeth suspected that anger and bitterness over the loss of his father generated “much of the energy that was later to be channeled into long hours of investigative reporting.”

Although he never finished high school, Anderson worked his way up into reporting positions at the Knoxville Journal, the St. Louis Times and the St. Louis Star. He joined the staff of the Post-Dispatch just when Bovard was fashioning it into a crusading newspaper.

 

At about the same time, Bovard hired Ross to open the newspaper’s first bureau in Washington, D.C. Ross, a childhood friend of Harry Truman, had been teaching journalism in the first school of its kind at the University of Missouri.

Anderson tried to persuade the newspaper to send him to Washington, too, and when his request was rejected,

Anderson quit and went there on his own as a freelancer. Anderson’s performance there convinced Bovard to rehire him to work with Ross and Raymond P. Brandt, who had joined the bureau in 1923.

Brandt, who had been one of Ross’ students at MU, took over the bureau in 1934, when Pulitzer named Ross to replace Clark McAdams as editorial page editor.

Documents and memos in Hamalainen’s possession show that during the time Ross and Brandt ran the bureau, the Post-Dispatch management made several attempts to help Anderson deal with alcoholism.

According to Ross’s letter to Bliven, Anderson would have been fired five years before the fact by any other publication.

“Paul’s retention by the Post-Dispatch in spite of his notorious neglect of duty was a source of constant wonderment to all his colleagues in Washington who knew anything about his relations with the Post-Dispatch,” Ross wrote.
Anderson’s frequent absences were explained to the main office as “a result of a nervous collapse – which, in a sense, was true,” Ross wrote. “I recall reporting one such collapse to O.K. Bovard, and his orders were to get Paul, at office expense and whatever expense, into the best possible hands at once, for as long a time as might be necessary for a cure.”

In 1937, according to Ross, Pulitzer made a special trip to Washington to tell Anderson that his fate was in his hands, that the Post-Dispatch wanted him to stay on and that Pulitzer personally wanted him to remain. “This was after a number of bad sprees that had kept Paul out of our paper for weeks at a time.”

According to Ross, Pulitzer told Anderson that if his conduct again made his work unsatisfactory to Bovard, Anderson’s dismissal would automatically go into effect.

On Dec. 1, 1937, Bovard sent Anderson a letter saying his lack of performance had forced him to suspend Anderson with pay until Pulitzer returned from a foreign trip. “It is with reluctance that I do this, but there is no other course open to me,” Bovard wrote. “The paper has need of the services of every man in the Washington bureau every day at this time, and I must of course think of the paper first in this situation.”

 

DISMISSAL AND SUICIDE

 

At the beginning of 1938, in response to instructions, Brandt sent detailed memos to Pulitzer and Bovard outlining Anderson’s absences, and instances in which drinking interfered with Anderson’s work during the previous two years. Brandt concluded that Anderson had missed “somewhere between 12 and 20 weeks.” “It is my personal observation that he suffers illness only when he has been drinking,” Brandt wrote to Pulitzer.

When Pulitzer returned from a trip abroad, the automatic dismissal contained in the warning of a year earlier went into effect.

“A good many of us – friends of Paul’s – felt that the shock of his dismissal might save him from himself, and it did, for a while, but only for a while,” Ross wrote.

Beginning Feb. 28, Anderson went to work in the Washington bureau of the St. Louis Star-Times. His byline also appeared regularly over weekly pieces he filed with the Nation.

But his firing seemed to deepen his bitterness. “Paul’s malice after his dismissal went to great lengths,” Ross’ letter said.

“Paul turned on Bovard after his dismissal and put it out in Washington that he had been fired ‘by a Communist.’ Later, after Bovard’s resignation, Paul spread it around town, and around the country, that both he and Bovard were the victims of a Tory publisher. There was nothing further from the truth.”

On July 29, 1938, Bovard resigned, citing differences with Pulitzer over philosophy and financial cuts Pulitzer had imposed. Although the two men had worked together for many years, the distance between them had grown during the

Depression and over the policies of President Franklin Roosevelt. Pulitzer thought the recovery program tended too much toward socialism, while Bovard believed it didn’t go far enough.

Three days after Bovard resigned, Anderson let loose in the Star-Times, contending the Post-Dispatch had abandoned its position as “a great liberal newspaper.” Anderson said it began when Ross replaced McAdams in 1934 as editor of the editorial page. “McAdams remained devoted to the aims of the New Deal,” Anderson wrote. “His employers turned against it, and in 1936 the paper supported (Republican presidential nominee Alf) Landon.”

Writing in a column in the Nation, Anderson contended the Post-Dispatch had “shifted so far to the right that the masthead bearing its founder’s ‘platform’ is virtually suspended in space.”

Benjamin Reese, the city editor, succeeded Bovard. Shortly afterward, Reese and Brandt exchanged memos that reflected a belief that opinion had been seeping into the bureau’s news reporting.

“The fact that there is to be no more editorializing in the Washington news should increase the effectiveness and prestige of the Post-Dispatch and the Washington bureau,” Brandt wrote on Aug. 15.

In his response three days later, Reese replied: “We are moving along with only one change: Mr. Bovard has retired and we have closed ranks. The only change in policy is that we will not editorialize in the news.”

That fall, Anderson attempted suicide by remaining in a closed garage with his car’s engine running. He was rescued by friends.

Sam O’Neal, Anderson’s colleague in the Star-Times bureau, later wrote that, since joining the newspaper, Anderson “had sought earnestly to rid himself of the alcoholic habit” and attempted the suicide after a relapse.“He told associates frequently since then that if he finally found he could not control his desire for alcohol, he finally would destroy himself,”

O’Neal wrote.On Dec. 5, Missouri Attorney General Roy McKittrick sued Anderson to recover $5,817 in delinquent income taxes and penalties. A day later, Anderson, 45, told his housekeeper he was tired of living and took an overdose of pills. He died two hours later at a hospital.

But Anderson was writing until the end. The day before his death, the last of his four-part series of interviews with Thomas E. Dewey, then a crime-fighting New York prosecutor, appeared in the Star-Times. The same Dec. 10 issue of the Nation that contained his death notice also published a column he had written, titled, “Economics for Congressmen.”

The eulogies given for Anderson still have meaning today.

At a memorial service in Washington, D.C., Sen. George Norris, a progressive Republican from Nebraska, said it was “a loss that will be felt generations to come, because he passed away when the world needs more than ever the fighters for the under privileged and the victims of the abuse of power by those who control our economic life.”

One letter writer to the Nation wrote: “In a day of a prostituted and debauched press, Paul Anderson and the papers which opened their columns to his talents stand out as beacon lights.”

Lambeth, a professor emeritus at the MU School of Journalism, said Anderson’s career was noteworthy because it kept investigative reporting alive in the 1920s and 1930s. Later investigative journalists cited Anderson as a precedent for their own work.

Terry Ganey is the St. Louis editor of Gateway Journalism Review.  He has more than 40 years’ experience as an investigative reporter and political correspondent, and he has worked for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.