By CONNIE CASS, Associated Press
Jack Anderson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning muckraking columnist who
struck fear into the hearts of corrupt or secretive politicians,
inspiring Nixon operatives to plot his murder, died Saturday. He was
Anderson died at his home in Bethesda, Md., of complications from
Parkinson's disease, said one of his daughters, Laurie Anderson-Bruch.
Anderson gave up his syndicated Washington Merry-Go-Round column at
age 81 in July 2004, after Parkinson's disease left him too ill to
continue. He had been hired by the column's founder, Drew Pearson, in 1947.
The column broke a string of big scandals, from Eisenhower assistant
Sherman Adams taking a vicuna coat and other gifts from a wealthy
industrialist in 1958 to the Reagan administration's secret
arms-for-hostages deal with Iran in 1986.
It appeared in some 1,000 newspapers in its heyday. Anderson took over
the column after Pearson's death in 1969, working with a changing cast
of co-authors and staff over the years.
A devout Mormon, Anderson looked upon journalism as a calling.
Considered one of the fathers of investigative reporting, Anderson was
renowned for his tenacity, aggressive techniques and influence in the
"He was a bridge for the muckrakers of a century ago and the crop that
came out of Watergate," said Mark Feldstein, Anderson's biographer and
a journalism professor at George Washington University. "He held
politicians to a level of accountability in an era where journalists
were very deferential to those in power."
Anderson won a 1972 Pulitzer Prize for reporting that the Nixon
administration secretly tilted toward Pakistan in its war with
India. He also published the secret transcripts of the Watergate grand
Such scoops earned him a spot on President Nixon's "enemies list."
Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy has described how he and other
Nixon political operatives planned ways to silence Anderson
permanently -- such as slipping him LSD or staging a fatal car crash --
but the White House nixed the idea.
Over the years, Anderson was threatened by the Mafia and investigated
by numerous government agencies trying to trace the sources of his
leaks. In 1989, police investigated him for smuggling a gun into the
U.S. Capitol to demonstrate security lapses.
Known for his toughness on the trail of a story, he was also praised
for personal kindness. Anderson's son Kevin said that when his
father's reporting led to the arrest of some involved in the Watergate
scandal, he aided their families financially.
"I don't like to hurt people, I really don't like it at all," Anderson
said in 1972. "But in order to get a red light at the intersection,
you sometimes have to have an accident."
Anderson began his newspaper career as a 12-year-old writing about
scouting activity and community fairs in the outskirts of Salt Lake
City, Utah. His first investigative story exposed unlawful polygamy in
his church. He was as a civilian war correspondent during World War II
and later, while in the Army, wrote for the military paper Stars and
After he went to work with Pearson, the team took on communist-hunting
Sen. Joseph McCarthy, exposed Connecticut Sen. Thomas Dodd's misuse
of campaign money, and revealed the CIA's attempt to use the Mafia to
kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Anderson also wrote more than a dozen books.
He was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1986. In a speech a decade later,
he made light of the occasional, uncontrollable shaking the disease
"The doctors tell me it's Parkinson's," he said. "I suspect that 52
years in Washington caused it."
He is survived by his wife, Olivia, and nine children.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.
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