In 1964, nearly every journalist in the country reported President Lyndon Johnson’s assertion that two American Navy destroyers had been attacked in an event that came to be known as the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which effectively drew the country into the Vietnam War. But I.F. Stone, a former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter and editor at The Nation, was the lone holdout, and it was that tenacity and skepticism that would thrust him into the media spotlight.
And he is back in the spotlight again, as author Myra MacPherson’s biography, All Governments Lie! The Life of and Times of Rebel Journalist I.F. Stone (Scribner, 2006), has been chosen to receive the Ann M. Sperber Biography Award, which is given annually by Fordham University for a biography or autobiography of a journalist or other media figure.
Albert Auster, Ph.D., associate chair of the Department of Communication and Media Studies, said the vote by a five-member jury was unanimous. Auster said he once subscribed to I.F. Stone’s Weekly, which Stone published from 1953 to 1971, calling it the perfect example of the kind of investigative journalism needed today.
He said MacPherson’s biography is a welcome addition to the literature of how radical political discourse is carried on in the United States.
For Auster, there is a direct line from Stone’s newsletter to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s Watergate expose in the Washington Post to bloggers on the Internet today.
“Nowadays, we have hundreds of bloggers who have never heard of Stone but owe what they do to the tradition of what he did,” he said.
The Sperber award was established in 1999 with a gift from Liselotte Sperber, in memory of her daughter Ann M. Sperber, who wrote the Pulitzer Prize nominated biography of Edward R. Murrow, Murrow: His Life and Times (Fordham University Press, 1998). The award will be presented to MacPherson at a ceremony on Nov. 27 at 6:30 p.m. in the 12-Floor Lounge, Lowenstein Center, Lincoln Center campus.