Jack Newfield, 1938-2004


Jack's father died when he was four, so Jack, propelled by loss in his own life, became a father to a generation of journalists. His two children, Rebecca and Joey, shared him with Maggie Haberman, Joanne Wasserman, Stu Marques, Marcia Kramer, Tom Robbins, Jim Callaghan, Paul Berman, Joe Conason, Jill Gardner, John P. Avlon, Bill Bastone, Mark Jacobson, myself, and many others. We still feel his hand guiding us whenever our fingers hit the keys. We will hear his whispered advice for thousands of stories yet to be written: Discover. Dissect. Dig. Track. Reveal. Confront. Besiege. Level. Care.

The journalists he adopted loved Jack Newfield, just like his lifelong brothers and sisters in type—Hentoff, Breslin, Pete Hamill, Murray Kempton, Nick Pileggi, Paul DuBrul, José Torres, Paul Cowan, Jules Feiffer, Eric Breindel, Joyce Wadler, Arthur Browne, Stanley Crouch, Norman Mailer, Gil Spencer, Victor Navasky, James Ridgeway, Wallace Matthews, Alex Cockburn, Dave Seifman, Fred Dicker, Susan Brownmiller, Juan Gonzalez, and Bob Caro.

For these fellow truthtellers, and for his readers across four decades, there is no better tribute than the one he quoted himself, in the final pages of his memoir, taken from a speech Martin Luther King delivered just 60 days before his assassination:

"I don't want a long funeral. I'd like somebody to say that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody. Say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. That I was a drum major for righteousness. And all the other shallow things won't matter. I won't have any money to leave behind. I won't have the fine and luxurious things to leave behind. I just want to leave a committed life behind."


Research Assistance: Eric Cantor, Deborah S. Esquenazi, and Daniel Ten Kate

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