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Drew Pearson (journalist)

Drew Pearson (journalist)

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Encyclopedia
Andrew Russell Pearson known professionally as Drew Pearson, was one of the best-known American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 columnist
Columnist
A columnist is a journalist who writes for publication in a series, creating an article that usually offers commentary and opinions. Columns appear in newspapers, magazines and other publications, including blogs....

s of his day, noted for his muckraking syndicated newspaper column "Washington Merry-Go-Round," in which he attacked various public persons, sometimes with little or no objective proof for his allegations. He also had a program on NBC Radio entitled Drew Pearson Comments.

Early life and career


Pearson was born in Evanston, Illinois
Evanston, Illinois
Evanston is a suburban municipality in Cook County, Illinois 12 miles north of downtown Chicago, bordering Chicago to the south, Skokie to the west, and Wilmette to the north, with an estimated population of 74,360 as of 2003. It is one of the North Shore communities that adjoin Lake Michigan...

; his parents were Paul Martin Pearson
Paul Martin Pearson
Dr. Paul Martin Pearson was an author, college professor, and a very embattled first civilian Governor of the United States Virgin Islands....

, an English professor at Northwestern University
Northwestern University
Northwestern University is a private research university in Evanston and Chicago, Illinois, USA. Northwestern has eleven undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools offering 124 undergraduate degrees and 145 graduate and professional degrees....

, and Edna Wolfe. When Pearson was six years of age, his father joined the faculty of Swarthmore College
Swarthmore College
Swarthmore College is a private, independent, liberal arts college in the United States with an enrollment of about 1,500 students. The college is located in the borough of Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, 11 miles southwest of Philadelphia....

 as Professor of Public Speaking, and the family moved to Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, joining the Society of Friends, with which the college was then affiliated. After being educated at Phillips Exeter Academy
Phillips Exeter Academy
Phillips Exeter Academy is a private secondary school located in Exeter, New Hampshire, in the United States.Exeter is noted for its application of Harkness education, a system based on a conference format of teacher and student interaction, similar to the Socratic method of learning through asking...

, Pearson attended Swarthmore
Swarthmore College
Swarthmore College is a private, independent, liberal arts college in the United States with an enrollment of about 1,500 students. The college is located in the borough of Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, 11 miles southwest of Philadelphia....

 (1915–19), where he edited its student newspaper, The Phoenix.

From 1919 to 1921, Pearson served with the American Friends Service Committee
American Friends Service Committee
The American Friends Service Committee is a Religious Society of Friends affiliated organization which works for peace and social justice in the United States and around the world...

, directing postwar rebuilding operations in Peć
Pec
Peć or Pejë is a city and municipality in north-western Kosovo and Metohija - Serbia, and the administrative centre of the homonymous district. Governor of city is Ali Berisha....

, which at that time was part of Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

. From 1921 to 1922, he lectured in geography
Geography
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...

 at the University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States,Penn is the fourth-oldest using the founding dates claimed by each institution...

.

In 1923 Pearson traveled to Japan, China, New Zealand, Australia, India, and Serbia, and persuaded several newspapers to buy articles about his travels. He was also commissioned by the American “Around the World Syndicate” to produce a set of interviews entitled “Europe’s Twelve Greatest Men.”

From 1925 to 1928, Pearson continued reporting on international events, including strikes in China, the Geneva Naval Conference
Geneva Naval Conference
The Geneva Naval Conference was a conference held to discuss naval arms limitation, held in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1927. This is a separate conference from the later general disarmament conference, the Geneva Conference ....

, the Pan-American Conference
Pan-American Conference
The Conferences of American States, commonly referred to as the Pan-American Conferences, were meetings of the Pan-American Union, an international organization for cooperation on trade and other issues. They were first introduced by James G. Blaine of Maine in order to establish closer ties...

 in Havana, and the signing of the Kellogg-Briand Pact
Kellogg-Briand Pact
The Kellogg–Briand Pact was an agreement signed on August 27, 1928, by the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, Weimar Germany and a number of other countries.The pact renounced war , prohibiting the use of war...

 in Paris.

In 1929 he became the Washington correspondent for The Baltimore Sun
The Baltimore Sun
The Baltimore Sun is the U.S. state of Maryland’s largest general circulation daily newspaper and provides coverage of local and regional news, events, issues, people, and industries....

. However, in 1931 and 1932, with Robert S. Allen
Robert S. Allen
Robert Sharon Allen was a Washington D.C. correspondent and Washington bureau chief for The Christian Science Monitor....

, he anonymously published a book called Washington Merry-Go-Round and its sequel. When the Sun discovered Pearson had co-authored these books, he was promptly fired. Late in 1932, Pearson and Allen secured a contract with the Scripps–Howard syndicate, United Features
United Media
United Media is a large editorial column and comic strip newspaper syndication service based in the United States, owned by The E.W. Scripps Company. It syndicates 150 comics and editorial columns worldwide. Its core business is the United Feature Syndicate and the Newspaper Enterprise Association...

, to syndicate a column called “Washington Merry-Go-Round.” It first appeared in Eleanor "Cissy" Patterson
Cissy Patterson
Eleanor Josephine Medill "Cissy" Patterson was an American journalist and newspaper editor, publisher and owner...

’s Washington Herald
Washington Herald
The Washington Herald was an American daily newspaper in Washington, D.C., from October 8, 1906, to January 31, 1939. The Herald merged with the Washington Times on February 1, 1939, to become the Washington Times-Herald, which was purchased and merged with The Washington Post in 1954....

on November 17, 1932. But as World War II escalated in Europe, Pearson’s strong support of Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

, in opposition to Patterson and the Herald’s isolationist position, led to an acrimonious termination of Pearson’s and Allen’s contract with the Herald. In 1941 The Washington Post
The Washington Post
The Washington Post is Washington, D.C.'s largest newspaper and its oldest still-existing paper, founded in 1877. Located in the capital of the United States, The Post has a particular emphasis on national politics. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia editions are printed for daily circulation...

picked up the contract for the “Washington Merry-Go-Round.”

Radio and film


From 1935 to 36, Allen and Pearson broadcast a 15-minute program twice a week on the Mutual Broadcasting System
Mutual Broadcasting System
The Mutual Broadcasting System was an American radio network, in operation from 1934 to 1999. In the golden age of U.S. radio drama, MBS was best known as the original network home of The Lone Ranger and The Adventures of Superman and as the long-time radio residence of The Shadow...

. They continued with a 30-minute music and news show, Listen America, in 1939–40, ending their partnership in 1941. Pearson continued alone on NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 with Drew Pearson Comments from 1941 to 1953 for a variety of sponsors (Serutan
Serutan
Serutan was an early fiber-type laxative product which was widely promoted on U.S. radio and television from the 1930s through the 1960s. It was manufactured by the J. B. Williams Co., which was founded in 1885 and bought out by Nabisco in 1971....

, Nutrex, Lee Hats, Adam Hats). His commentary was broadcast through 1968 on the now-defunct Intermountain Network.
In addition to radio, Pearson appeared in a number of Hollywood movies, such as the 1951 science fiction film The Day the Earth Stood Still and RKO's Betrayal from the East
Betrayal from the East
Betrayal from the East is a 1945 film starring Lee Tracy and Nancy Kelly. The movie was directed by William A. Berke and based on the book, Betrayal from the East: The Inside Story of Japanese Spies in America, by Alan Hynd.-Cast:...

, a World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 propaganda movie. In the former film, Pearson is the only journalist who urges calm and restraint (versus the fear and paranoia evoked by his colleagues) while Washington is panicked by the escape of the alien visitor Klaatu
Klaatu (The Day the Earth Stood Still)
Klaatu is the humanoid alien protagonist in the 1951 science fiction film The Day the Earth Stood Still and its 2008 remake. Klaatu is famous in part because of the phrase "Klaatu barada nikto!" used in the classic film and its re-use in the Bruce Campbell cult comedy film Army of Darkness, as well...

. In the latter movie, Pearson narrated, in his “now it can be told” style, an alleged exposé that accused Japanese Americans of being part of a Japanese conspiracy to engage in acts of terrorism and espionage. The movie was based on the 1943 best-selling book Betrayal from the East: The Inside Story of Japanese Spies in America by Alan Hynd. Pearson also appeared as himself in City Across the River (1949).

On a January 8, 1950, broadcast of CBS radio’s “The Jack Benny Program,” Pearson was the subject of a joke gone wrong. Anouncer Don Wilson was to say he heard Jack bought a new suit on Drew Pearson, but said Pearson’s name wrong; Don said “Drear Pewson.” Later on in the show, comedic actor Frank Nelson was asked by Benny if he was the doorman. Changing the script, Nelson said, “Well who do you think I am ... Drear Pewson?" The audience laughed for almost 30 seconds.

Washington Merry-Go-Round


The "Washington Merry-Go-Round" column started as a result of the anonymous publication in 1931 of the book, Washington Merry-Go-Round (New York: Horace Liveright and Co.), co-written with Robert S. Allen
Robert S. Allen
Robert Sharon Allen was a Washington D.C. correspondent and Washington bureau chief for The Christian Science Monitor....

. The book was a collection of muckraking news items concerning key figures in public life that challenged the journalistic code of the day. In 1932 it was followed by a second book, More Merry-Go-Round. Pearson and Allen were successful enough in their books to become co-authors of the syndicated
Print syndication
Print syndication distributes news articles, columns, comic strips and other features to newspapers, magazines and websites. They offer reprint rights and grant permissions to other parties for republishing content of which they own/represent copyrights....

 column, the "Washington Merry-Go-Round," that same year.

According to his one-time partner, Jack Anderson
Jack Anderson
Jack Northman Anderson was an American newspaper columnist, syndicated by United Features Syndicate, considered one of the fathers of modern investigative journalism...

, Pearson saw journalism as a weapon to be used against those he judged to be working against the public interest. When forced to choose between a story's accuracy and Pearson's desire to pursue a person whose views he disliked, Pearson had no qualms about publishing the story anyway. In relating his disclosures on Washington politicians, newsmakers, and the politically connected, Pearson frequently resorted to a pattern of combining factual or corroborated leaked news items together with fabricated or unsubstantiated details, the latter designed to emphasize and sensationalize the basic story. Pearson's method included paying waiters and chauffeurs to eavesdrop on their charges, gleaning information on politicians from political enemies, bribing a navy clerk to reveal classified data, or even ordering a subordinate to break into the desk of a prominent Washington attorney. A favorite Pearson tactic was to reveal salacious details of a subject's sexual proclivities for the purpose of embarrassment or intimidation.

During World War II, Pearson's column not only revealed embarrassing news items, but expanded to criticize the Roosevelt administration's conduct of the war, in particular U.S. foreign policy regarding Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 and the Soviet Union. As a supporter of the Soviet Union's struggle against Nazi Germany, Pearson demanded that the Allied Command create a second front in Europe in 1943 to assist the Soviets. When Pearson's demands were not met, he began to openly criticize Secretary of State Cordell Hull
Cordell Hull
Cordell Hull was an American politician from the U.S. state of Tennessee. He is best known as the longest-serving Secretary of State, holding the position for 11 years in the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during much of World War II...

, James Dunn
James Clement Dunn
James Clement Dunn was an American diplomat and a career employee of the United States Department of State. He served as the Ambassador of the United States to Italy, France, Spain, and Brazil.-References:**...

, and other State Department officials, whom Pearson accused of hating Soviet Russia. After one of Pearson's more virulent columns accused Secretary of State Hull and his deputies of a conscious policy to “bleed Russia white,” President Roosevelt convened a press conference in which he angrily accused Pearson of printing statements that were a lie "from beginning to end", jeopardizing United Nations unity, and committing an act of bad faith towards his own nation. The president concluded his statement by calling Pearson “a chronic liar.”

Pearson was the first to report the 1943 incident of General George S. Patton
George S. Patton
George Smith Patton, Jr. was a United States Army officer best known for his leadership while commanding corps and armies as a general during World War II. He was also well known for his eccentricity and controversial outspokenness.Patton was commissioned in the U.S. Army after his graduation from...

's slapping of soldier Charles Kuhl
Charles Kuhl
Charles Herman Kuhl was a American soldier who became the target of General George S. Patton's ire in a 1943 incident which made nationwide headlines in the United States during World War II.-Life and career:...

. Pearson, whose reputation had been severely damaged after President Roosvelt had publicly called him a "chronic liar", wanted to settle scores with the Roosevelt administration. Ernest Cuneo
Ernest Cuneo
Ernest L. Cuneo was a lawyer, newspaperman, author, and intelligence liaison. He was also a professional football player in the National Football League.-Athletics:...

, a friend of Pearson and a official of the Office of Strategic Services
Office of Strategic Services
The Office of Strategic Services was a United States intelligence agency formed during World War II. It was the wartime intelligence agency, and it was a predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency...

, suggested to Pearson that a sensational, exclusive news story would make people forget Roosevelt's criticism. Cuneo offered Pearson details of General George S. Patton
George S. Patton
George Smith Patton, Jr. was a United States Army officer best known for his leadership while commanding corps and armies as a general during World War II. He was also well known for his eccentricity and controversial outspokenness.Patton was commissioned in the U.S. Army after his graduation from...

's slapping of a private soldier, Charles Kuhl
Charles Kuhl
Charles Herman Kuhl was a American soldier who became the target of General George S. Patton's ire in a 1943 incident which made nationwide headlines in the United States during World War II.-Life and career:...

, which he had learned from others in the War Department. In typical Pearson style, the columnist’s version of the slapping incident bore little relation to that of the actual event, conflated the details of two separate incidents involving Patton, and falsely claimed that General Patton would "not be used in important combat anymore." Allied Headquarters denied that Patton had received either an official reprimand or a relief from combat duty, but confirmed that Patton had slapped a soldier with his gloves. Demands for Patton to be recalled and sent home soon arose in Congress as well as in newspaper articles and editorials across the country. However, public opinion was largely favorable to Patton. While Patton was later reassigned and his career advancement slowed, he was not relieved, but continued to serve in the European theater, where he would later command the famous U.S. Third Army. Pearson's broadcast and subsequent article on Patton's alleged behavior sufficiently raised the suspicions of Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson
Henry L. Stimson
Henry Lewis Stimson was an American statesman, lawyer and Republican Party politician and spokesman on foreign policy. He twice served as Secretary of War 1911–1913 under Republican William Howard Taft and 1940–1945, under Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the latter role he was a leading hawk...

 that he requested Army General Joseph T. McNarney
Joseph T. McNarney
Joseph Taggart McNarney was a United States Army Air Forces general officer who served as Military Governor of occupied Germany.-Early years:...

 to “put an inspector on the War Department to see who has been leaking out information. Pearson’s articles are about three-quarters false but there’s just a germ of truth in them that someone must have given him.”

After Pearson reported that General Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was an American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army. He was a Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the...

 was actively campaigning for his own promotion, MacArthur sued Pearson for defamation, but dropped the suit after Pearson threatened to publish love letters from MacArthur to his Eurasian paramour, Isabel Rosario Cooper.

In 1943 Pearson hired David Karr
David Karr
David Harold Karr, born David Katz was a controversial American journalist, businessman, and Communist....

, a disgraced former employee of the Office of War Information as his chief aide. That year, a U.S. Civil Service Commission hearing had concluded that Karr was both untruthful and unreliable. Karr earned a reputation as an unscrupulous investigative reporter who misrepresented himself to sources. In 1944, Karr, a supporter of far left political causes and a former employee of the Communist newspaper The Daily Worker, became active in Vice President Henry Wallace
Henry A. Wallace
Henry Agard Wallace was the 33rd Vice President of the United States , the Secretary of Agriculture , and the Secretary of Commerce . In the 1948 presidential election, Wallace was the nominee of the Progressive Party.-Early life:Henry A...

's effort to remain on the presidential ticket. Karr once obtained a confidential State Department report to President Roosevelt on Joseph Stalin by claiming to be on Vice President Wallace's staff, and was the subject of two separate FBI espionage and loyalty investigations during the war.

In 1945, Pearson hired Jack Anderson for the staff of his column, the "Merry-Go-Round".

Post-war activities


Following World War II, Pearson was largely responsible for the "Friendship Train
Friendship Train
The 1947 U.S.-to-Europe or American Friendship Train collected foodstuffs from American donors for transport to the people of France and Italy. Contemporaneous with the Marshall Plan, it provided desperately needed assistance in the aftermath of World War II, but was primarily a token gesture of...

" which raised over 40 million dollars in aid for war-torn Europe. On December 18, 1947 the much-needed food, medicine, and supplies arrived in France.

He had a role in the downfall of U.S. Congressman John Parnell Thomas, Chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, in 1948. After revelations in Pearson's column, Thomas was investigated and later convicted of conspiracy to defraud the government for hiring friends who never worked for him, then depositing their paychecks into his personal accounts. Pearson was a staunch opponent of the actions of Senator Joseph McCarthy
Joseph McCarthy
Joseph Raymond "Joe" McCarthy was an American politician who served as a Republican U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957...

 and other attempts by Congress to investigate Soviet and communist influence in government and the media, and eagerly denounced the political opportunism, demagoguery, and scurrilous allegations by Senator McCarthy and the House Committee.

In May 1948, Pearson leaked news in the Washington Post that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Justice Department
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

 were talking to Preston Thomas Tucker
Preston Tucker
Preston Thomas Tucker was an American automobile designer and entrepreneur.He is most remembered for his 1948 Tucker Sedan , an automobile which introduced many features that have since become widely used in modern cars...

 of the Tucker Corporation
1948 Tucker Sedan
The 1948 Tucker Sedan or Tucker '48 Sedan was an advanced automobile conceived by Preston Tucker and briefly produced in Chicago in 1948...

, an automobile company in Chicago. Pearson stated – erroneously, as it would later turn out – that the agencies would uncover financial crimes at the company. Tucker stock dropped from $5 to $2 based on Pearson's charges. The SEC and Justice later found Tucker and his company innocent of any wrongdoing, but the damage was done. The Tucker Corporation was never able to recover and went out of business.

In the 1940s, Pearson made several largely unsubstantiated allegations against the Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal, who served under both Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 and Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

. Although Forrestal was admired for his efficiency and hard work, he was despised for his Wall Street
Wall Street
Wall Street refers to the financial district of New York City, named after and centered on the eight-block-long street running from Broadway to South Street on the East River in Lower Manhattan. Over time, the term has become a metonym for the financial markets of the United States as a whole, or...

 background and strong anti-communist views by some in the media, particularly Pearson, who began attacking Forrestal while Roosevelt was in office. Pearson told his associate Jack Anderson that he (Pearson) believed Forrestal was "the most dangerous man in America" and claimed that if he was not removed from office he would "cause another world war". Pearson also insinuated that Forrestal was guilty of corruption, though he was unable to prove any wrongdoing. The lowest blow came in January 1949, when Pearson related that Forrestal's wife had been the victim of a holdup back in 1937 and falsely suggested that Forrestal had run away, leaving his wife defenceless.

After President Truman took office, Forrestal attempted to moderate President Truman's policy of large-scale defense economization, which was radically reducing the size of the U.S. armed forces at a time of increased Cold War tensions. The policy had infuriated the U.S. armed forces chiefs, and Pearson, sensing an opportunity, began to publish information he had received from Pentagon
The Pentagon
The Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, located in Arlington County, Virginia. As a symbol of the U.S. military, "the Pentagon" is often used metonymically to refer to the Department of Defense rather than the building itself.Designed by the American architect...

 sources on Forrestal's mental condition. Pearson unrelentingly continued his attacks on Forrestal in his columns and radio broadcasts, openly berating Truman for not firing Forrestal. President Truman asked for Forrestal's resignation, replacing him with Louis A. Johnson
Louis A. Johnson
Louis Arthur Johnson was the second United States Secretary of Defense, serving in the cabinet of President Harry S. Truman from March 28, 1949 to September 19, 1950....

.

After Forrestal's death in May 1949 (caused by a fall from a 16th-floor window of the Bethesda Naval Hospital), Pearson stated in his column that Forrestal suffered from "paranoia" and had attempted suicide
Suicide
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse...

 on four previous occasions. Pearson's claim of paranoia and previous suicide attempts by Forrestal was contradicted by the testimony of Forrestal's attending physicians at Bethesda and is not corroborated by the doctors' reports, Forrestal's medical file or the official Navy investigative report of his death. Pearson's own protege, Jack Anderson, later asserted that Pearson "hounded Jim Forrestal with dirty aspersions and insinuations until at last, exhausted and his nerves unstrung, one of the finest servants that the Republic
ever had died of suicide."

Conflict with Senator McCarthy


In 1950, Drew Pearson began the first in a series of columns attacking Senator Joseph McCarthy
Joseph McCarthy
Joseph Raymond "Joe" McCarthy was an American politician who served as a Republican U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957...

 after McCarthy declared that he had a list of 57 people in the State Department that were members of the American Communist Party. Ironically, Pearson, through his associate Jack Anderson, had been using McCarthy as a confidential source for information on other politicians. Pearson used McCarthy's revelations in his columns with one exception – material on suspected Communists working in the U.S. government that McCarthy and his staff had uncovered. Over the next two months McCarthy made seven Senate speeches on Drew Pearson, calling for a "patriotic boycott" of his radio show which cost Pearson the sponsor of his radio show. Twelve newspapers cancelled their contract with Pearson.

In response, Senator McCarthy referred to Pearson's associate David Karr
David Karr
David Harold Karr, born David Katz was a controversial American journalist, businessman, and Communist....

 as Pearson's "KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

 handler". Karr had been exposed by the House Un-American Activities Committee
House Un-American Activities Committee
The House Committee on Un-American Activities or House Un-American Activities Committee was an investigative committee of the United States House of Representatives. In 1969, the House changed the committee's name to "House Committee on Internal Security"...

 in 1943 as having worked for two years on the staff of the Communist
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 newspaper The Daily Worker. In response, Pearson claimed that Karr only joined the Daily Worker because he wanted to get into baseball
Baseball
Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The aim is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot diamond...

 games for free. Karr ostensibly covered home Yankee
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees are a professional baseball team based in the The Bronx, New York. They compete in Major League Baseball in the American League's East Division...

 games for the Daily Worker, a paper not known for its sports readership, but his other activities remained unknown at the time. Years later, however, the release of the FBI's Venona decrypt of June 1944 revealed that Karr was an informational source for the NKVD
NKVD
The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin....

. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992, Soviet investigative journalist Yevgenia Albats
Yevgenia Albats
Dr. Yevgenia Markovna Albats is a Russian investigative journalist, political scientist, writer and radio host. As of year 2011, she workes as a chief editor of The New Times magazine.-Early life and education:...

 published an article in Izvestia
Izvestia
Izvestia is a long-running high-circulation daily newspaper in Russia. The word "izvestiya" in Russian means "delivered messages", derived from the verb izveshchat . In the context of newspapers it is usually translated as "news" or "reports".-Origin:The newspaper began as the News of the...

quoting documents from KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

 archives that Karr was “a competent KGB source” who "submitted information to the KGB on the technical capabilities of the United States and other capitalist countries”. Another member of Pearson's staff, Andrew Older, along with his wife, was identified in 1951 as a Communist Party
Communist Party USA
The Communist Party USA is a Marxist political party in the United States, established in 1919. It has a long, complex history that is closely related to the histories of similar communist parties worldwide and the U.S. labor movement....

 member in testimony before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee. Older's sister, Julia Older, was also suspected of having spied for the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

.

In December 1950 McCarthy and Pearson were involved in a public brawl at the Sulgrave Club
Sulgrave Club
The Sulgrave Club is a private club located at 1801 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington D.C., United States.-History:...

 in Washington, D.C. Pearson later sued McCarthy for injuries he allegedly received in the fight, which Pearson stated resulted from being "grabbed by the neck and kicked in the groin." The following month, McCarthy delivered a speech in the Senate in which he referred to Pearson as a "communist tool".

In October, 1953, Senator McCarthy began investigating communist infiltration into the military. McCarthy's attempts to discredit Robert Stevens, the Secretary of the Army, infuriated President Dwight Eisenhower, who instructed the Department of the Army to release information detrimental to McCarthy to journalists who were known to be opposed to him. On December 15, 1952, Pearson published a column using the information on McCarthy.

Integrity of Warren Commission Investigation of Lee Harvey Oswald


Despite the facts that Pearson and Earl Warren
Earl Warren
Earl Warren was the 14th Chief Justice of the United States.He is known for the sweeping decisions of the Warren Court, which ended school segregation and transformed many areas of American law, especially regarding the rights of the accused, ending public-school-sponsored prayer, and requiring...

 were close friends who vacationed together and that Pearson's stepson Tyler Abell and his wife Bess were employed in the Lyndon Johnson White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

, the reporting of Drew Pearson in October, 1963, seems incompatible with the proposal by Earl Warren and the endorsement of Tom C. Clark
Tom C. Clark
Thomas Campbell Clark was United States Attorney General from 1945 to 1949 and an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States .- Early life and career :...

 of the appointment of Albert E. Jenner, Jr.
Albert E. Jenner, Jr.
Albert Ernest Jenner, Jr. was an American lawyer and one of the name partners at the law firm of Jenner & Block. He served as assistant counsel to the Warren Commission; as a member of the U.S...

 to the Warren Commission
Warren Commission
The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, known unofficially as the Warren Commission, was established on November 27, 1963, by Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963...

 staff.

In 1946, fearing for his life, Chicago organized crime leader James M. Ragen
James M. Ragen
James Maxwell Ragen, Sr. was an Irish mobster and co-founder of the Chicago-based street gang and political club Ragen's Colts.-Biography:...

 contacted Clark through newspaper columnist Drew Pearson to obtain the protection of federal agents in exchange for information. A dozen FBI agents were sent to Chicago to interrogate Ragen. After checking and confirming the details of mob activity provided by Ragen, Tom Clark withdrew Ragen's FBI protection for lack of federal jurisdiction to prosecute the suspects Ragen named. Almost immediately, Ragen was seriously wounded by gunfire. Several suspects were arrested but no one was prosecuted due to the disappearance of some witnesses and the lack of cooperation of others. Ragen's condition was improving after the shooting, but he died suddenly in the hospital of mercury poisoning. Drew Pearson hinted in his syndicated column in October 1963 that Clark had told him that the FBI confirmed Ragen's accusations of Chicago mob control by leading businessmen and politicians. This was confirmed in the posthumous publication, eleven years later, of Drew Pearson's Diaries, 1949–1959; Tom Clark had told Pearson that Ragen stated that Henry Crown, the Hilton Hotels
Hilton Hotels
Hilton Hotels & Resorts is an international chain of full-service hotels and resorts founded by Conrad Hilton and now owned by Hilton Worldwide. Hilton hotels are either owned by, managed by, or franchised to independent operators by Hilton Worldwide. Hilton Hotels became the first coast-to-coast...

 chain, and Walter Annenberg
Walter Annenberg
Walter Hubert Annenberg was an American publisher, philanthropist, and diplomat.-Early life:Walter Annenberg was born to a Jewish family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on March 13, 1908. He was the son of Sarah and Moses "Moe" Annenberg, who published The Daily Racing Form and purchased The Philadelphia...

 controlled the mob.

Despite the disturbing information about Henry Crown
Henry Crown
Henry Crown was an American industrialist and philanthropist. Among other things, he founded the Material Service Corporation, which merged with General Dynamics in 1959. At the time of his death, he was a billionaire...

, et al., Drew Pearson claimed was provided to him by Clark in 1946, Justice Tom Clark appointed Crown's son, John, as one of two of his 1956 Supreme Court session law clerks. In December 1963, Chief Justice Earl Warren
Earl Warren
Earl Warren was the 14th Chief Justice of the United States.He is known for the sweeping decisions of the Warren Court, which ended school segregation and transformed many areas of American law, especially regarding the rights of the accused, ending public-school-sponsored prayer, and requiring...

, acting as head of the newly formed Presidential Commission investigating the death of President Kennedy, suggested that Henry Crown's attorney, Albert E. Jenner, Jr.
Albert E. Jenner, Jr.
Albert Ernest Jenner, Jr. was an American lawyer and one of the name partners at the law firm of Jenner & Block. He served as assistant counsel to the Warren Commission; as a member of the U.S...

, who also, at that time employed Crown's son, John at Jenner's Chicago law firm, be appointed as a senior assistant Warren Commission
Warren Commission
The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, known unofficially as the Warren Commission, was established on November 27, 1963, by Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963...

 counsel. Warren gave his fellow commissioners the names of two men who approved of Jenner's appointment, Tom C Clark and Dean Acheson
Dean Acheson
Dean Gooderham Acheson was an American statesman and lawyer. As United States Secretary of State in the administration of President Harry S. Truman from 1949 to 1953, he played a central role in defining American foreign policy during the Cold War...

.
The appointment of Jenner to investigate whether either Oswald or Ruby acted alone or conspired with others remains controversial.

Later years


By the mid-1950s, Pearson's appetite for championing liberal and populist causes had waned considerably. In 1955, Pearson was heavily criticized for writing a series of articles displaying unflinching support for Cuban strongman General Fulgencio Batista
Fulgencio Batista
Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar was the United States-aligned Cuban President, dictator and military leader who served as the leader of Cuba from 1933 to 1944 and from 1952 to 1959, before being overthrown as a result of the Cuban Revolution....

 and his right-wing dictatorship. While residing at a luxurious penthouse owned by a Batista crony in Havana, Pearson wrote clearly erroneous and factually inaccurate articles praising Batista and his regime. Among newsmen in Havana at the time, a tall tale or an outright lie was characterized with the comment "Even Drew Pearson wouldn't believe that!"

In a column attacking California Governor Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 released on October 31, 1967, Pearson claimed that a "homosexual ring has been operating in his (Reagan's) office, including a claim that a tape recording existed of "a sex orgy which had taken place at a cabin near Lake Tahoe, leased by two members of Reagan's staff. Eight men were involved." Later press reports revealed that the alleged tape that Pearson had mentioned in his column did not exist.

At the time of Pearson's death of a heart attack in 1969 in Washington, D.C., the column was syndicated to more than 650 newspapers, more than twice as many as any other, with an estimated 60 million readers, and was famous for its investigative style of journalism. A Harris Poll commissioned by TIME Magazine
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

at that time showed that Pearson was America's best-known newspaper columnist at the time of his death. The column was continued under the byline name "Jack Anderson."

American University
American University
American University is a private, Methodist, liberal arts, and research university in Washington, D.C. The university was chartered by an Act of Congress on December 5, 1892 as "The American University", which was approved by President Benjamin Harrison on February 24, 1893...

 Library received the typescript copies of the columns distributed to newspapers around the country in 1992. Shortly thereafter, the Library embarked on a project to digitize the collection.

Death


Pearson died on September 1, 1969 at the age of 71 from the effects of a heart attack
Myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction , commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die...

 he had suffered a few days before. Jack Anderson took over as writer of the Washington Merry-Go-Round. An obituary in Time Magazine declared that over the years the disclosures in Pearson's column sent four Congressmen to jail and led to the resignation of President Eisenhower's chief of staff, Sherman Adams
Sherman Adams
Llewelyn Sherman Adams was an American politician, best known as White House Chief of Staff for President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the culmination of a relatively short political career that also included a stint as Governor of New Hampshire...

. Douglas Cohn continued the column after Anderson's death in 2005, and it remains the longest running column in American history.

Criticism of Pearson


During his career, Pearson had many critics, both inside and outside Washington. His style of combining factual reporting with rumormongering and innuendo contributed to mixed opinions about his work from others in the press, who often sympathized with his goals when railing against political opponents or corrupt businessmen, but found themselves conflicted over Pearson's enigmatic choice of villains for his columns, as well as his tactics in collecting and reporting salacious personal information. Throughout his career, Pearson used details of scandalous sexual liaisons to attack his personal and political opponents. As late as 1967, Pearson was still using allegations of homosexuality to impugn the reputation of then-Governor Ronald Reagan, who was running for the GOP presidential nomination, by claiming that homosexuals in his staff were operating in the governor's office.

Those accusing Pearson of having been either pro-Communist or "soft on Communism" called attention not only to the affiliations and activities of his subordinates, but also to his support for policy positions and personal actions that worked to the advantage of international Communism. He was an early and vociferous critic of the anti-Communist government of Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek was a political and military leader of 20th century China. He is known as Jiǎng Jièshí or Jiǎng Zhōngzhèng in Mandarin....

 in China. He was responsible for publicizing the infamous slapping incidents by America's most outspokenly anti-Soviet General, George S. Patton, Jr., which led to Patton's being relieved of command of the Seventh Army.

Personal life


Drew Pearson had one daughter, Ellen, in a short marriage (1925–28) to Felicia Gizycka, daughter of the newspaper heiress Cissy Patterson
Cissy Patterson
Eleanor Josephine Medill "Cissy" Patterson was an American journalist and newspaper editor, publisher and owner...

 and Count Joseph Gizycky of Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

. Thereafter, Pearson maintained a strained relationship with his former mother-in-law, and they frequently exchanged barbed comments in print. His second wife was Luvie Moore Abell, whom he married in 1936; that union was childless.

Published works

  • Washington Merry-Go-Round (New York: Horace Liveright, 1931).
  • More Merry-Go-Round (1932)
  • American Diplomatic Game (New York: Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1935),
  • U.S.A.: Second Class Power? (1958),
  • The Case Against Congress: a Compelling Indictment of Corruption on Capitol Hill (1958)
  • The Senator Doubleday (1968)
  • The President Doubleday (1970)
  • Diaries, 1949–1959 (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1974),
  • Nine Old Men (American Constitutional and Legal History) with Robert Allen, (1974) ISBN 0-306-70609-1

Awards & recognition


Pearson was awarded two honorary degrees, Norway's Medal of St. Olav
Norwegian orders and medals
This is a list of Norwegian orders and medals, in order of precedence. This list contains all medals approved for wearing on a Norwegian military uniform in ranked order.- Awarded by or approved by H.M. the King of Norway :# War Cross with sword...

, the French Legion of Honour, and the Star of Italian Solidarity. He also was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Character actor
Character actor
A character actor is one who predominantly plays unusual or eccentric characters. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a character actor as "an actor who specializes in character parts", defining character part in turn as "an acting role displaying pronounced or unusual characteristics or...

 Robert F. Simon
Robert F. Simon
Robert F. Simon was an American character actor, often portraying military or authority figure roles. Though his face was recognized by audiences, he was mostly unknown by name...

 played Pearson in the 1977 NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 television movie
Television movie
A television film is a feature film that is a television program produced for and originally distributed by a television network, in contrast to...

 Tail Gunner Joe
Tail Gunner Joe
Tail Gunner Joe is a 1977 television movie dramatizing the life of U.S. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, a Wisconsin Republican who claimed knowledge of communist infiltration of the U.S. government during the 1950s. The film was broadcast on NBC-TV...

, a critique of U.S. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

.

Quotes


"I just operate with a sense of smell: if something smells wrong, I go to work."

"His ill-considered falsehoods have come to the point where he is doing much harm to his own Government and to other nations. It is a pity that anyone anywhere believes anything he writes."
--President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Pearson, in letter to General Patrick J. Hurley, August 30, 1943, cited in Patrick J. Hurley, a biography by Don Lohbeck, 1956.

See also


Profiles in Courage
Profiles in Courage
Profiles in Courage is a 1955 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography describing acts of bravery and integrity by eight United States Senators throughout the Senate's history. The book profiles senators who crossed party lines and/or defied the public opinion of their constituents to do what they felt was...

, section: Authorship controversy

Edward R. Murrow
Edward R. Murrow
Edward Roscoe Murrow, KBE was an American broadcast journalist. He first came to prominence with a series of radio news broadcasts during World War II, which were followed by millions of listeners in the United States and Canada.Fellow journalists Eric Sevareid, Ed Bliss, and Alexander Kendrick...


External links