Jack Anderson was born in Long Beach, California, on 19th October, 1922. Two years later his family moved to Utah, the stronghold of the Mormon Church. Anderson was brought up in Salt Lake City and his journalistic career started at school when he began writing for his local newspaper, The Murray Eagle. At eighteen he joined the Salt Lake Tribune but left the job to become a Mormon missionary in the Deep South.
In 1943 Anderson he enrolled in the Merchant Marine officers training school. After seven months he persuaded the Desert News to accredit him as a foreign correspondent in China. Acccording to Anderson he was supposed to write "stories about hometown heroes gone to war". He disliked this work and managed to get involved with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). The OSS sent Anderson to contact a band of Chinese Nationalist guerrillas fighting the Japanese Army. Soon afterwards Anderson met Chou En-lai and wrote about his activities for the Associated Press.
Others working in China at the time included Ray S. Cline, Richard Helms, E. Howard Hunt, Jake Esterline, Mitchell WerBell, John Singlaub, Paul Helliwell, Jack Anderson, Robert Emmett Johnson, Jack Hawkins, Lucien Conein, Philip Graham, Tommy Corcoran, Whiting Willauer and William Pawley. These men were later to become very important to Anderson in his journalistic career.
In 1945 Anderson joined the United States Army in Chunking. He first served in the Quartermaster Corps and then wrote for the Stars and Stripes. He also did some reporting for the Armed Forces Radio. According to Anderson's autobiography, Confessions of a Muckraker (1979), Spencer Moosa of the Associated Press suggested to Anderson that he should try and get a job with Drew Pearson in Washington.
Anderson took Moosa's advice and in 1947 he became a member of Pearson's staff. Anderson was a "legman" for Pearson's column, Merry-Go-Round, that appeared in the Washington Post and in newspapers all over the United States. One of Anderson's first stories concerned the dispute between Howard Hughes, the owner of Trans World Airlines, and Owen Brewster, chairman of the Senate War Investigating Committee. Hughes claimed that Brewster was being paid by Pan American Airways (Pan Am) to persuade the United States government to set up an official worldwide monopoly under its control. Part of this plan was to force all existing American carriers with overseas operations to close down or merge with Pan Am. As the owner of Trans World Airlines, Hughes posed a serious threat to this plan. Hughes claimed that Brewster had approached him and suggested he merge Trans World with Pan Am. Pearson and Anderson began a campaign against Brewster. They reported that Pan Am had provided Bewster with free flights to Hobe Sound, Florida, where he stayed free of charge at the holiday home of Pan Am Vice President Sam Pryor. As a result of this campaign Bewster lost his seat in Congress.
In the late 1940s Anderson became friendly with Joseph McCarthy. As he pointed out in his autobiography, Confessions of a Muckraker, "Joe McCarthy... was a pal of mine, irresponsible to be sure, but a fellow bachelor of vast amiability and an excellent source of inside dope on the Hill." McCarthy began supplying Anderson with stories about suspected communists in government. Drew Pearson refused to publish these stories as he was very suspicious of the motives of people like McCarthy. In fact, in 1948, Pearson began investigating J. Parnell Thomas, the Chairman of the House of Un-American Activities Committee. It was not long before Thomas' secretary, Helen Campbell, began providing information about his illegal activities.
On 4th August, 1948, Pearson published the story that Thomas had been putting friends on his congressional payroll. They did no work but in return shared their salaries with Thomas. Called before a grand jury, Thomas availed himself to the 1st Amendment, a strategy that he had been unwilling to accept when dealing with the Hollywood Ten. Indicted on charges of conspiracy to defraud the government, Thomas was found guilty and sentenced to 18 months in prison and forced to pay a $10,000 fine. Two of his fellow inmates in Danbury Prison were Lester Cole and Ring Lardner Jr who were serving terms as a result of refusing to testify in front of Thomas and the House of Un-American Activities Committee.
In 1949 Drew Pearson criticised the Secretary of Defence, James Forrestal, for his conservative views on foreign policy. He told Jack Anderson that he believed Forrestal was "the most dangerous man in America" and claimed that if he was not removed from office he would "cause another world war". Pearson also suggested that Forrestal was guilty of corruption. Pearson was blamed when Forrestal committed suicide on 22nd May 1949. One journalist, Westbrook Pegler, wrote: "For months, Drew Pearson... hounded Jim Forrestal with dirty aspersions and insinuations, until, at last, exhausted and his nerves unstrung, one of the finest servants that the Republic ever had died of suicide."
Anderson and Pearson also began investigating General Douglas MacArthur. In December, 1949, Anderson got hold of a top-secret cable from MacArthur to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressing his disagreement with President Harry S. Truman concerning Chaing Kai-shek. On 22nd December, 1949, Pearson published the story that: "General MacArthur has sent a triple-urgent cable urging that Formosa be occupied by U.S. troops." Pearson argued that MacArthur was "trying to dictate U.S. foreign policy in the Far East".
President Truman and Dean Acheson, the Secretary of State, told MacArthur to limit the war to Korea. MacArthur disagreed, favoring an attack on Chinese forces. Unwilling to accept the views of Truman and Dean Acheson, MacArthur began to make inflammatory statements indicating his disagreements with the United States government.
MacArthur gained support from right-wing members of the Senate such as Joe McCarthy who led the attack on Truman's administration: "With half a million Communists in Korea killing American men, Acheson says, "Now let's be calm, let's do nothing. It is like advising a man whose family is being killed not to take hasty action for fear he might alienate the affection of the murders."
On 7th October, 1950, MacArthur launched an invasion of North Korea and by the end of the month had reached the Yalu River, close to the frontier of China. On 20th November, Pearson wrote in his column that the Chinese was "sucking our troops into a trap." Three days later the Chinese Army launched an attack on MacArthur's army. North Korean forces took Seoul in January 1951. Two months later, Harry S. Truman removed MacArthur from his command of the United Nations forces in Korea.
Joe McCarthy continued to provide Anderson with a lot of information. In his autobiography, Confessions of a Muckraker, Anderson pointed out: "At my prompting he (McCarthy) would phone fellow senators to ask what had transpired this morning behind closed doors or what strategy was planned for the morrow. While I listened in on an extension he would pump even a Robert Taft or a William Knowland with the handwritten questions I passed him." In return, Anderson provided McCarthy with information about politicians and state officials he suspected of being "communists". Anderson later recalled that his decision to work with McCarthy "was almost automatic.. for one thing, I owed him; for another, he might be able to flesh out some of our inconclusive material, and if so, I would no doubt get the scoop." As a result Anderson passed on his file on the presidential aide, David Demarest Lloyd.
On 9th February, 1950, McCarthy made a speech in Salt Lake City where he attacked Dean Acheson, the Secretary of State, as "a pompous diplomat in striped pants". He claimed that he had a list of 57 people in the State Department that were known to be members of the American Communist Party. McCarthy went on to argue that some of these people were passing secret information to the Soviet Union. He added: "The reason why we find ourselves in a position of impotency is not because the enemy has sent men to invade our shores, but rather because of the traitorous actions of those who have had all the benefits that the wealthiest nation on earth has had to offer - the finest homes, the finest college educations, and the finest jobs in Government we can give."
The list of names was not a secret and had been in fact published by the Secretary of State in 1946. These people had been identified during a preliminary screening of 3,000 federal employees. Some had been communists but others had been fascists, alcoholics and sexual deviants. As it happens, if Joe McCarthy had been screened, his own drink problems and sexual preferences would have resulted in him being put on the list.
Drew Pearson immediately launched an attack on McCarthy. He pointed out that only three people on the list were State Department officials. He added that when this list was first published four years ago, Gustavo Duran and Mary Jane Keeney had both resigned from the State Department (1946). The third person, John S. Service, had been cleared after a prolonged and careful investigation. Pearson also argued that none of these people had been members of the American Communist Party.
Anderson asked Pearson to stop attacking McCarthy: "He is our best source on the Hill." Pearson replied, "He may be a good source, Jack, but he's a bad man." On 20th February, 1950, McCarthy made a speech in the Senate supporting the allegations he had made in Salt Lake City. This time he did not describe them as "card-carrying communists" because this had been shown to be untrue. Instead he argued that his list were all "loyalty risks". He also claimed that one of the president's speech-writers, was a communist. Although he did not name him, he was referring to David Demarest Lloyd, the man that Anderson had provided information on. Lloyd immediately issued a statement where he defended himself against McCarthy's charges. President Harry S. Truman not only kept him on but promoted him to the post of Administrative Assistant. Lloyd was indeed innocent of these claims and McCarthy was forced to withdraw these allegations. As Anderson admitted: "At my instigation, then, Lloyd had been done an injustice that was saved from being grevious only by Truman's steadfastness."
McCarthy now informed Anderson that he had evidence that Professor Owen Lattimore, director of the Walter Hines Page School of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University, was a Soviet spy. Pearson, who knew Lattimore, and while accepting he held left-wing views, he was convinced he was not a spy. In his speeches, McCarthy referred to Lattimore as "Mr X... the top Russian spy... the key man in a Russian espionage ring." On 26th March, 1950, Drew Pearson named Lattimore as McCarthy's Mr. X. Pearson then went onto defend Lattimore against these charges. McCarthy responded by making a speech in Congress where he admitted: "I fear that in the case of Lattimore I may have perhaps placed too much stress on the question of whether he is a paid espionage agent."
McCarthy then produced Louis Budenz, the former editor of The Daily Worker. Budenz claimed that Lattimore was a "concealed communist". However, as Anderson admitted: "Budenz had never met Lattimore; he spoke not from personal observation of him but from what he remembered of what others had told him five, six, seven and thirteen years before."
Pearson now wrote an article where he showed that Budenz was a serial liar: "Apologists for Budenz minimize this on the ground that Budenz has now reformed. Nevertheless, untruthful statements made regarding his past and refusal to answer questions have a bearing on Budenz's credibility." He went on to point out that "all in all, Budenz refused to answer 23 questions on the ground of self-incrimination". Owen Lattimore was eventually cleared of the charge that he was a Soviet spy or a secret member of the American Communist Party and like other victims of McCarthyism, he went to live in Europe and for several years was professor of Chinese studies at Leeds University.
Despite the efforts of Jack Anderson, by the end of June, 1950, Drew Pearson had written more than forty daily columns and a significant percentage of his weekly radio broadcasts, that had been devoted to discrediting the charges made by Joe McCarthy. As a result, McCarthy decided to take on Pearson. McCarthy told Anderson: "Jack, I'm going to have to go after your boss. I mean, no holds barred. I figure I've already lost his supporters; by going after him, I can pick up his enemies." McCarthy, when drunk, told Assistant Attorney General Joe Keenan, that he was considering "bumping Pearson off". On 15th December, 1950, McCarthy made a speech in Congress where he claimed that Pearson was "the voice of international Communism" and "a Moscow-directed character assassin." McCarthy added that Pearson was "a prostitute of journalism" and that Pearson "and the Communist Party murdered James Forrestal in just as cold blood as though they had machine-gunned him."
Over the next two months McCarthy made seven Senate speeches on Drew Pearson. He called for a "patriotic boycott" of his radio show and as a result, Adam Hats, withdrew as Pearson's radio sponsor. Although he was able to make a series of short-term arrangements, Pearson was never again able to find a permanent sponsor. Twelve newspapers cancelled their contract with Pearson.
Joe McCarthy and his friends also raised money to help Fred Napoleon Howser, the Attorney General of California, to sue Pearson for $350,000. This involved an incident in 1948 when Pearson accused Howser of consorting with mobsters and of taking a bribe from gambling interests. Help was also given to Father Charles Coughlin, who sued Pearson for $225,000. However, in 1951 the courts ruled that Pearson had not libeled either Howser or Coughlin. Only the St. Louis Star-Times defended Pearson. As its editorial pointed out: "If Joseph McCarthy can silence a critic named Drew Pearson, simply by smearing him with the brush of Communist association, he can silence any other critic." However, Pearson did get the support of J. William Fulbright, Wayne Morse, Clinton Anderson, William Benton and Thomas Hennings in the Senate.
After his attack on Drew Pearson, Anderson had no choice but to abandoned Joe McCarthy. He now joined forces with Wisconsin reporter Ronald W. May to write McCarthy: The Man, the Senator, the Ism (1952). In October, 1953, Joe McCarthy began investigating communist infiltration into the military. Attempts were made by McCarthy to discredit Robert Stevens, the Secretary of the Army. The president, Dwight Eisenhower, was furious and now realised that it was time to bring an end to McCarthy's activities.
The United States Army now passed information about McCarthy to journalists who were known to be opposed to him. This included the news that Joe McCarthy and Roy Cohn had abused congressional privilege by trying to prevent David Schine from being drafted. When that failed, it was claimed that Cohn tried to pressurize the Army into granting Schine special privileges. Drew Pearson published the story on 15th December, 1953.
Some figures in the media, such as writers George Seldes and I. F. Stone, and cartoonists, Herb Block and Daniel Fitzpatrick, had fought a long campaign against McCarthy. Other figures in the media, who had for a long time been opposed to McCarthyism, but were frightened to speak out, now began to get the confidence to join the counter-attack. Edward Murrow, the experienced broadcaster, used his television programme, See It Now, on 9th March, 1954, to criticize McCarthy's methods. Newspaper columnists such as Walter Lippmann also became more open in their attacks on McCarthy.The senate investigations into the United States Army were televised and this helped to expose the tactics of Joseph McCarthy. One newspaper, the Louisville Courier-Journal, reported that: "In this long, degrading travesty of the democratic process, McCarthy has shown himself to be evil and unmatched in malice." Leading politicians in both parties, had been embarrassed by McCarthy's performance and on 2nd December, 1954, a censure motion condemned his conduct by 67 votes to 22.
McCarthy also lost the chairmanship of the Government Committee on Operations of the Senate. He was now without a power base and the media lost interest in his claims of a communist conspiracy. As one journalist, Willard Edwards, pointed out: "Most reporters just refused to file McCarthy stories. And most papers would not have printed them anyway."
Anderson helped Pearson investigate stories of corruption inside the administration of President Dwight Eisenhower. They discovered that Eisenhower had received gifts worth more than $500,000 from "big-business well-wishers." Anderson was a close friend of Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1956 Pearson began investigating the relationship between Johnson and two businessmen, George R. Brown and Herman Brown from Texas. Pearson believed that Johnson had arranged for the Texas-based Brown and Root Construction Company to avoid large tax bills. Johnson brought an end to this investigation by offering Pearson a deal. If Pearson dropped his Brown-Root crusade, Johnson would support the presidential ambitions of Estes Kefauver. Pearson accepted and wrote in his diary (16th April, 1956): "This is the first time I've ever made a deal like this, and I feel a little unhappy about it. With the Presidency of the United States at stake, maybe it's justified, maybe not - I don't know."
In 1957 Anderson threaten to quit as Pearson's assistant. He complained that his stories always appeared under Pearson's name. Pearson responded by promising him more bylines and pledged to leave the column to him when he died. Anderson agreed to do the deal and continued work for him. Jack Anderson's next assignment was the investigation of the presidential assistant Sherman Adams. The former governor of New Hampshire, was considered to be a key figure in Eisenhower's administration. Anderson discovered that Bernard Goldfine, a wealthy industrialist, had given Adams a large number of presents. This included suits, overcoats, alcohol, furnishings and the payment of hotel and resort bills. Anderson eventually found evidence that Adams had twice persuaded the Federal Trade Commission to "ease up its pursuit of Goldfine for putting false labels on the products of his textile plants."The story was eventually published in 1958 and Adams was forced to resign from office. However, Anderson was much criticized for the way he carried out his investigation and one of his assistants, Les Whitten, was arrested by the FBI for receiving stolen government documents.
In 1960 Drew Pearson supported Hubert Humphrey in his efforts to become the Democratic Party candidate. However, those campaigning for John F. Kennedy, accused him of being a draft dodger. As a result, when Humphrey dropped out of the race, Anderson persuaded Pearson to switch his support to Lyndon B. Johnson. However, it was Kennedy who eventually got the nomination. Anderson and Pearson now supported Kennedy.
One of the ways they helped Kennedy's campaign was to investigate the relationship between Howard Hughes and Richard Nixon. Pearson and Anderson discovered that in 1956 the Hughes Tool Company provided a $205,000 loan to Nixon Incorporated, a company run by Richard's brother, F. Donald Nixon. The money was never paid back. Soon after the money was paid the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reversed a previous decision to grant tax-exempt status to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. This information was revealed by Anderson and Pearson during the 1960 presidential campaign. Nixon initially denied the loan but later was forced to admit that this money had been given to his brother. It was claimed that this story helped Kennedy defeat Nixon in the election.
In 1963 Senator John Williams of Delaware began investigating the activities of Bobby Baker. As a result of his work, Baker resigned as the secretary to Lyndon B. Johnson on 9th October, 1963. During his investigations Williams met Don B. Reynolds and persuaded him to appear before a secret session of the Senate Rules Committee. Reynolds told B. Everett Jordan and his committee on 22nd November, 1963, that Johnson had demanded that he provided kickbacks in return for him agreeing to this life insurance policy. This included a $585 Magnavox stereo. Reynolds also had to pay for $1,200 worth of advertising on KTBC, Johnson's television station in Austin. Reynolds had paperwork for this transaction including a delivery note that indicated the stereo had been sent to the home of Johnson. Reynolds also told of seeing a suitcase full of money which Bobby Baker described as a "$100,000 payoff to Johnson for his role in securing the Fort Worth TFX contract". His testimony came to an end when news arrived that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.
As soon as Johnson became president he contacted B. Everett Jordan to see if there was any chance of stopping this information being published. Jordan replied that he would do what he could but warned Johnson that some members of the committee wanted Reynold's testimony to be released to the public. On 6th December, 1963, Jordan spoke to Johnson on the telephone and said he was doing what he could to suppress the story because " it might spread (to) a place where we don't want it spread."
Abe Fortas, a lawyer who represented both Lyndon B. Johnson and Bobby Baker, worked behind the scenes in an effort to keep this information from the public. Johnson also arranged for a smear campaign to be organized against Reynolds. To help him do this J. Edgar Hoover passed to Johnson the FBI file on Reynolds. On 17th January, 1964, the Senate Rules Committee voted to release to the public Reynolds' secret testimony. Johnson responded by leaking information from Reynolds' FBI file to Anderson. On 5th February, 1964, the Washington Post reported that Reynolds had lied about his academic success at West Point. The article also claimed that Reynolds had been a supporter of Joseph McCarthy and had accused business rivals of being secret members of the American Communist Party. It was also revealed that Reynolds had made anti-Semitic remarks while in Berlin in 1953.
Like other political journalists, Anderson and Drew Pearson investigated the death of John F. Kennedy. Sources close to John McCone and Robert Kennedy claimed that the assassination was linked to the plots against Fidel Castro of Cuba.
In 1965, Jack Anderson achieved full partnership in the Merry-Go-Round column and now sharing a byline with Drew Pearson. However, Anderson still complained about the relationship because he was only paid $15,000 a year. Anderson returned to the investigation of the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1966. At the time attempts were made to deport Johnny Roselli as an illegal alien. Roselli moved to Los Angeles where he went into early retirement. It was at this time he told attorney, Edward Morgan: "The last of the sniper teams dispatched by Robert Kennedy in 1963 to assassinate Fidel Castro were captured in Havana. Under torture they broke and confessed to being sponsored by the CIA and the US government. At that point, Castro remarked that, 'If that was the way President Kennedy wanted it, Cuba could engage in the same tactics'. The result was that Castro infiltrated teams of snipers into the US to kill Kennedy".
Morgan took the story to Jack Anderson and Drew Pearson. The story was then passed on to Earl Warren. He did not want anything to do with it and so the information was then passed to the FBI. When they failed to investigate the story Anderson wrote an article entitled "President Johnson is sitting on a political H-bomb" about Roselli's story. It has been suggested that Roselli started this story at the request of his friends in the Central Intelligence Agency in order to divert attention from the investigation being carried out by Jim Garrison.
In 1968 Jack Anderson and Drew Pearson published The Case Against Congress. The book documented examples of how politicians had "abused their power and priviledge by placing their own interests ahead of those of the American people". This included the activities of Bobby Baker, James Eastland, Lyndon B. Johnson, Dwight Eisenhower, Hubert Humphrey, Everett Dirksen, Thomas J. Dodd, John McClellan and Clark Clifford.
On the death of Drew Pearson in 1969, Anderson took over his Merry-Go-Round column. Co-written with Jan Muller, the column was distributed to more than 400 newspapers. Anderson and Muller also wrote the Jack Anderson Confidential, an in-depth monthly newsletter.
Anderson has achieved many important stories including the discovery that Central Intelligence Agency plot to kill Fidel Castro. In 1972 Anderson won the Pulitzer Prize for journalism. This was for his reports claiming that the Nixon administration secretly tilted toward Pakistan in its war with India. The following year his book, The Anderson Tapes, dealt with the activities of Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover.
Anderson interviewed Johnny Roselli just before he was murdered. On 7th September, 1976, Anderson reported Roselli as saying : "When Oswald was picked up, the underworld conspirators feared he would crack and disclose information that might lead to them. This almost certainly would have brought a massive U.S. crackdown on the Mafia. So Jack Ruby was ordered to eliminate Oswald."
Anderson's autobiography, Confessions of a Muckraker, was published in 1979. Anderson also investigated the Watergate Scandal. It was later discovered that Jeb Magruder and G. Gordon Liddy discussed the possibility of having Anderson added to a hit list. Anderson pointed out in Peace, War and Politics: An Eyewitness Account (1999) that Liddy was under the impression that "Richard Nixon wanted me dead".
Mark Feldstein, director of the journalism program at George Washington University, has argued: "Part circus huckster, part guerrilla fighter, part righteous rogue, Anderson waged a one-man journalistic resistance when it was exceedingly unpopular to do so." Douglas Martin of the New York Times, commented: "His bombastic, self-congratulating style, abbreviated exegeses and a blistering moral outrage fueled both by his Mormon upbringing and unabashed theatrical flair caused some to question his gravity." Anderson defended his work in an article in The Washington Post in 1983: "I have to do daily what Woodward and Bernstein did once" it is a column of "tweaks, leaks and piques, born of idealism, stoked by cynicism, a brazen, high-risk, righteously indignant antiwaste, anticorruption, anticommunist watchdog of a column that has been called everything from 'gold' to 'garbage.' Sometimes on the same day. Sometimes in the same sentence."
In 1989 Anderson received information from Joseph Shimon, that he had been at meetings with Sam Giancana and Santo Trafficante where they discussed plans to assassinate Fidel Castro. All these plots failed and Shimon became convinced that Trafficante was working for Castro. This story eventually appeared in the Merry-Go-Round column.
In 1992 Anderson was working on a television project on the Exxon Valdez oil spill. However, he was eventually forced to withdraw from the project when it was revealled that Anderson had received $10,000 from Exxon to make the program. Other books by Anderson include The Washington Money-Go-Round (1997) and Peace, War and Politics: An Eyewitness Account (1999).
Jack Anderson retired from journalism in July, 2004. He died at his home in Bethesda, Maryland, of complications from Parkinson's disease, on 17th December, 2005.