April 28, 2004 by

Mary McGrory

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Categories: Media, Writers/Editors

mmcgrory.jpgMary McGrory, the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for commentary, died on April 21. Cause of death was not released. She was 85.
The Boston native graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Emmanuel College and began her career in journalism as a secretary to the book editor of The Boston Herald. In 1947, she moved to Washington D.C. to work as a book reviewer for The Washington Star. Her first stab at national commentary came in 1954 when she was assigned to cover the Army-McCarthy hearings.
Over the next half century, McGrory became a leading liberal voice in American media and political circles. She wrote about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War, the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor accident and nearly every presidential campaign since 1956.
A fixture on Capitol Hill, McGrory’s coverage of the Watergate scandal in 1975 earned her a Pulitzer Prize for commentary and a spot on President Richard M. Nixon’s “enemies list.” President George H.W. Bush also complained about McGrory’s columns in his private journal, noting: “She has destroyed me over and over again.”
During his eulogy to McGrory, Boston Globe columnist Brian McGrory recounted some of his second cousin’s favorite things. “She loved congressional hearing rooms. She loved the White House briefing room. She loved packed news conferences. She loved anywhere and anyplace that she could watch politicians perform in all their fullness and pinpoint their inevitable weakness,” he said.
McGrory remained with the Star until it went out of business in 1981, then joined The Washington Post. Until 2002, her columns appeared on Page 2 of the Post and in the Sunday Outlook section. McGrory was also syndicated in 125 newspapers around the country, including The Boston Globe and the New York Post.
For her “relentless pursuit of truth, her incisive wit and her tangible compassion,” McGrory won the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism. She also received the National Press Club’s Fourth Estate Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.
Listen to a Tribute From NPR
Read a Tribute From Maureen Dowd
Read McGrory’s Final Columns in The Washington Post

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