Before there was Maureen Dowd or Gail Collins or Molly Ivins, there was Mary McGrory (1918-2004). In a sassy biography titled, “Mary McGrory: The First Queen of Journalism,” its author, John Norris, delves into the world of the Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the Washington Post.
Norris recently held court at a book show and tell at the National Press Club in Washington DC where he pointed out McGrory was a trailblazing columnist, who achieved national syndication and reported from the front lines of American politics for five decades.
From her first assignment reporting on the Army–McCarthy hearings to her Pulitzer-winning coverage of Watergate and controversial observations of President George Bush II after September 11, McGrory humanized the players on the great national stage while establishing herself as a uniquely influential voice.
Norris paints scenes, where she flirted, drank, cajoled, and jousted with the most important figures in American life, breaking all the rules in the journalism textbook.
Yet, her writing was admired and feared by such notables as Lyndon Johnson (who also tried to seduce her) and her friend Bobby Kennedy who observed, “Mary is so gentle—until she gets behind a typewriter.” Her soirees, filled with Supreme Court justices, senators, interns, and copy boys alike, were legendary.