In Hack Heaven

Bios of dead journos reveal tricks good muckrakers carried off: booze, lies, big truths

It's unclear whether Mary McGrory ever faced that kind of pressure as a columnist for The Washington Star and The Washington Post, but she was cut from the same cloth as Murrow. She was an engaging stylist and enterprising reporter who defended the little people and stuck it to the man. ("No great men call me," she said upon receiving an award in 1998. "You know who calls me? Losers. I am their mark.") She had contempt for McCarthy (whom she called an "Irish bully"), made Nixon's enemies list, and was an early opponent of the war on Iraq.

The best thing about McGrory, as with all the great journalists of her generation, is that she specialized in being herself and made decisions that would give her maximum freedom as a journalist. One suspects not having a husband or children didn't hurt, just as Bob Edwards's decision to stay on at NPR will probably extend his creative output in the long run. If only more journalists today knew how to place so much emphasis on producing quality work, and so little on going along with the tide.

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