Friday, April 20, 2012

A man of many blog comments

Some of you may have wondered about that a name that pops up frequently on this blog's comments - David Hess. The reason that it does has a long history. We are both ex-newspapermen with combined experience and liberalism that adds up to about one century. And although I would argue that I was a much better poker player than Dave, I can't say the same about our relative talents as journalists He was always at the top of his or anybody else's game.

We met in the early 1960s when I was a reporter for the Columbus Citizen-Journal and he was working through his master's studies on Latin America at OSU while trying to earn a modest living as a PR man at Nationwide Insurance. When I became the editor of a new liberal magazine at Nationwide ordered by the company's progressive owner, Murray Lincoln, Dave joined the tiny staff as the Statehouse reporter whose reporting became a major nuisance to then Gov. James Rhodes. As the editor of his column, I might add that Rhodes got off easy if you saw some of the original copy of Dave's work. In editing out certain of Dave's preferred references to Rhodes, "Machiavellian," 'insane", "sniveling", (occasionally in the same sentence!) - I had to remind Dave that we could land in jail. Dave's response, which left little room for argument, was "Dammit! It's true."

It was profoundly true, too, that the only reason that we continued to work together happily was our gritty coal-cindered roots in southwestern Pennsylvania and West Virginia. (You get a glimpse of his sardonic impatience with today's Republicans that is evident in his blog comments.)

After Lincoln's death in 1967, the magazine was abolished by Lincoln's' successors, pure insurance people who preferred a more amicable relationship with Rbodes and his insurance department.

Dave and I were hired by the Beacon Journal's Ben Maidenberg, one of the state's most conservative executive editors, who enjoyed arguing vigorously with staffers who disagreed with him. As newcomers on the staff, we worked closely as an investigative team before the paper sent him to the Knight Newspapers Bureau in Washington, where he covered Capitol Hill close-up for many years, including the back channel antics of an Ohio congressman, John Kasich.

During that tine, Dave was so respected by the Washington media that he was elected president of the National Press Club, no small honor. From there he moved to the National Journal and from there to retirement in Springfield, Va. Without encouragement, he now has hooked on to the blog with no pay. Along with being his close friend, I'm also happy that he shares his incisive comments on Washington's bizarre political life. Conservative Republicans aren't happy with him, but he's a helluva lot more forthright about the system than they are.

As I noted, he is adding his brief comments voluntarily . You can be sure of that. If he didn't want to do it, he wouldn't. Hrrrumphhh....

1 comment:

David Hess said...

OK, I admit to "Machiavellian," but I don't remember calling any politician "insane" or "sniveling" -- at least not by name. Collectively, I might have.