Deakin, James 1929-2007
Deakin, James 1929-2007
See index for CA sketch: Born December 3, 1929, in St. Louis, MO; died of liver cancer, June 3, 2007, in Barrington, RI. Journalist, correspondent, educator, and author. Deakin earned a college degree in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, and then headed almost immediately for the nation's capital as a journalist for the St. Louis Dispatch. For thirty years he covered the White House, earning criticism from presidents on both sides of the political divide, most notably Richard M. Nixon, who reportedly included the journalist on his notorious "enemies list," and Lyndon B. Johnson. According to his critics, Deakin saw the relationship between the press and the presidency as one of mutual benefit, but he often managed to portray the press corps as the good guys and the presidents as mostly liars and scoundrels. After retiring from the Dispatch in the early 1980s, Deakin became a professor of journalism at George Washington University, where he remained until 1987. He also wrote several books, including The Lobbyists (1966) and Lyndon Johnson's Credibility Gap (1968), which criticized Johnson's connections with the powerful national lobbyists. He then wrote The Presidency and the Press (1977) and The White House Press on the Presidency (1983). In a departure from his writings on politics and the press, Deakin produced A Grave for Bobby: The Greenlease Slaying (1990), an investigation of the kidnapping and murder of a little boy in St. Louis in the 1950s. Deakin also wrote a quasi-memoir, Straight Stuff: The Reporters, the White House, and the Truth (1984), in which he mused on his long career in political journalism, beginning during the Eisenhower administration. The book was also described by reviewers as a defense of the news media as critics, rather than enemies, of government. In 1977 Deakin won the Merriman Smith Award for White House Reporting from the White House Correspondents' Association; he later served as the president of the organization. He was a fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in 1980.
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Deakin, James, Straight Stuff: The Reporters, the White House, and the Truth, Morrow (New York, NY), 1984.
Los Angeles Times, June 6, 2007, p. B9.
New York Times, June 7, 2007, p. C17.