Anderson, Jack, 1922-2005

Alternative names
Birth 1922-10-19
Death 2005-12-17

Biographical notes:

Jack Northman Anderson was an investigative journalist, author, television personality, and for over 50 years the columnist behind the syndicated column ⁰́₋Washington Merry-Go-Round.⁰́₊ He was born in Long Beach, CA in 1922, to Orlando and Agnes Mortensen Anderson, devout Mormons who moved the family to Utah when Jack was two years old. (Many sources, including the New York Times obituary, identify him as Jackson Northman Anderson, but this is incorrect; his given name was Jack.) He briefly enrolled at the University of Utah until, as a practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, he undertook a mission through the American south in 1941. Upon his return, he volunteered for the Merchant Marine, first serving as a war correspondent in occupied China until 1945, when he was inducted into the Army, and then serving in the Quartermaster Corps and writing for Stars and Stripes newspaper. At the end of the war, a colleague in the Associated Press suggested he go to Washington, D.C. to inquire about a job with Drew Pearson, the investigative journalist who had written the daily ⁰́₋Washington Merry-Go-Round⁰́₊ column since 1932. Pearson hired him in 1947. He began covering Congress for Pearson, persuading sources to tell him what happened in closed-door meetings and to give him verbatim transcripts and government documents to support his stories. He soon came to believe that government documents were being classified and hidden from the public not for national security purposes but to protect embarrassing or even illegal activity. He ultimately became a full partner in the column, and succeeded Pearson as its author upon his death in 1969. He would write the column daily, along with a team of reporters, until 2004. Cultivating sources who provided him with exclusive access to classified information, he reported on an extraordinary range of topics and individuals in his half-century of investigative work. For a time in 1972, he was himself monitored by the CIA in the so-called "Operation Mudhen." Day by day for over 50 years, he reported on activities in Washington for the benefit of those far outside of it, breaking scandals and often raising the ire of bureaucrats in order to keep the government accountable to the people. Washington Merry-Go-Round was the longest-running political column in America, appearing at its peak in more than 1,000 American newspapers and claiming 40 million readers.In addition to his daily column, he maintained a high-profile presence in television, radio, and magazines, and he wrote or co-wrote 17 books, including his autobiography Peace, War, and Politics: An Eyewitness Account (1999). He had a daily syndicated radio show on the Mutual Broadcasting Network, reporting on many of the same topics that appeared in his columns. He was the Washington Bureau Chief of Parade Magazine, frequently contributing stories about Washington for a broad national audience. And he was a featured commentator on Good Morning America for nine years and hosted several television specials. He co-founded the think tank and advocacy group Citizens Against Government Waste with J. Peter Grace in 1984 in order to eliminate inefficiency and mismanagement in government. He also founded the Young Astronauts Council by persuading President Ronald Reagan in 1984 to charter an organization to motivate students to focus on math and science in school. In addition, he was among the founders of the Center for the School of the Future at Utah State University.Jack Anderson died in 2005 from complications of Parkinson's disease.

From the description of Jack Anderson papers, 1930-2004, bulk 1969-2004. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 636685229


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  • Radio broadcasters
  • Politicians
  • Politics and culture--History--20th century
  • Journalists


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  • United States (as recorded)