Nixon Enemies List entry for
|List and position:||First, #106|
|Name as originally listed:||Tom Wicker, New York Times|
|Vitals:||6/18/1926 - 11/25/2011|
|Comment on original list:||New York Times|
- Washington Bureau Chief for the NY Times (1964-1968), Associate Editor (1968-1991)
- grew up in remote North Carolina in a small town called "Hamlet" (seriously).
- Hamlet, NC was (and still is) an important railroad junction. His father was a railroad conductor. His family were "yellow dog" southern Democrats, although President Truman annoyed them when he broke the railroad strike in 1946.
- served in the Navy during WW II.
- graduated from UNC in 1948 with a journalism degree.
- Nieman fellow, 1957-58. (The prestigious Nieman Fellowship program at Harvard is the "oldest and best-known study program for journalists in the world."
- It's no surprise that a former NY Times Washington bureau chief was put on the Enemies List, but Wicker really earned the spot. His predecessors were the "conservative" Arthur Krock and the "genteel" James Reston (terms used in the NY Times obit). Wicker brought his "Southern liberal/civil libertarian's perspective" to the NY Times.
- denounced Nixon for covertly bombing Cambodia and, regarding Watergate, the "beginnings of a police state" (from NYT obit).
- NY Times noted his inclusion on the Enemies List 36% the way through his obituary, a bit sooner than is typical. The Washington Post did not note his inclusion.
- The Washington Post reported his reaction in 1973: "I wouldn't have expected the White House to list me as a friend." He went on, "I've been critical of the President, but I've also supported many things President Nixon stood for. It strikes me as a pretty silly piece of business for high officials who supposedly have the country's affairs to manage to be sitting around keeping lists of people supposedly against them." Wicker also said that he knew of no actions against him.
- known as a lifelong Southerner by accent and gentlemanliness, he moved to New York in 1972 (divorcing his first wife a year later) and finally retired further north to a 1793 farmhouse in Vermont (his second wife was a Bennington College graduate).
- admired Vermont Senator Ralph Flanders, the most vocal Senate Republican to oppose Joe McCarthy. "It's that kind of integrity and tolerance that Wicker finds so appealing about Vermont's political tradition," reported the Seven Days newspaper in a 2002 interview.
- wrote 20 books including ones about Joe McCarthy (Shooting Star) and several presidents.
- His first books were novels under the pen name "Paul Connolly."
- rose to fame when he was in the press bus of the presidential motorcade in Dallas on November 22, 1963. His first-hand account of JFK's assassination, dictated from a telephone booth, used a quarter of the front page and all of page 2.
- also memorable as both journalist and mediator (or "observer") at the deadly 1971 Attica Prison uprising. His 1975 book about it, "A Time to Die" was called his best book by some. In the 1980 TV movie on ABC, "Attica," he was played by George Grizzard.
- He had lots of complaints about Democrats, too. His anti-Vietnam-War feelings started under Johnson. After Carter's presidency, he proclaimed, "Please, no more southern governors." This was before both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
- He was more sympathetic to Nixon after a couple of decades. His 1991 book, "One of Us: Richard Nixon and the American Dream" noted Nixon's progressive policies both foreign (visiting China) and domestic (desegregating Southern schools).
- not to be confused with his son, Thomas G. Wicker, Jr. or Thomas Wicker, a vice president of Georgia Power.
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