Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume paid tribute to the late Nixon-era investigative reporter Jack Anderson Tuesday, as Anderson’s files and notes were added to official archives in Gelman Library.
Colleagues, friends and longtime admirers of Anderson joined Hume to remember the “last of the old-fashioned muckrakers,” as School of Media and Public Affairs professor Mark Feldstein describes Anderson. Feldstein’s book, “Poisoning the Press: Richard Nixon, Jack Anderson, and the Rise of Washington’s Scandal Culture,” addresses theories that the former president even tried to have the reporter – who was on Nixon’s enemies list – assassinated.
Anderson, who reported during the heyday of GW alumnus J. Edgar Hoover’s tenure as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, wrote about controversial issues in his syndicated column, “Washington Merry-Go-Round.”
Like Anderson, who had notorious run-ins with the FBI, Feldstein resisted federal officers when they wanted to confiscate the files. The FBI eventually backed down.
Hume, who worked with Anderson in the early 1970s, shared anecdotes from when they both covered the Nixon administration, including one that emphasized the investigative reporter’s humanity.
Angered over rumors of impropriety, Anderson allegedly confronted Al Capp, a conservative political cartoonist and radio host, whose lectures at universities across the country gave him easy access to female students.
As Hume described it, Anderson, a devout Mormon with nine children – including a college-age daughter – questioned Capp about these activities.
Capp’s response to Anderson was a pleading, “You know how these college babes are,” which turned to panic when he saw Anderson’s face turn red with rage.
“After that, the world never heard very much from Capp again,” Hume said.
Hume emphasized that Anderson did not have the unwavering support of a big corporation, unlike many of the later investigative journalism teams, such as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein – the two reporters who broke the Watergate story – who had the support of the Washington Post.
He was simply “one man,” Hume said, adding that Anderson fought to “give people information he thought they deserved to know.”
“Those were amazing days and old Jack was right in the middle of it,” Hume said.