McClendon, Sarah (Newcomb) 1910(?)-2003
McCLENDON, Sarah (Newcomb) 1910(?)-2003
OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born July 8, 1910 (some sources cite 1911), in Tyler, TX; died January 7, 2003, in Washington, DC. Journalist, broadcaster, and author. One of the first and foremost women to breach the solemnity of the presidential press conference, McClendon's voice resounded throughout the nation's capital for more than fifty years. She came to Washington from Texas, where she had worked as a journalist in the 1930s. During World War II, after serving in the Women's Army Corps of the United States Army, she wrote for the Washington bureau of the Philadelphia Daily News. In 1946 McClendon founded the one-woman agency, the McClendon News Service, which represented newspapers too small to maintain news bureaus of their own. Her own role, however, was far from small. McClendon transformed the format of the traditional press conference of the 1940s by daring to question presidents and demand answers. Her insistence, in a voice notoriously loud and a style direct to the point of rudeness, was a scourge to anyone with something to hide. Presidents from Harry S Truman to Bill Clinton felt the sting of questions they could not or would not answer. McClendon worked into the early 1990s, earning numerous honors along the way, including awards from Women in Communications, the National Federation of Press Women, and the American Legion. A military veteran herself, she paid particular attention to veterans' affairs, serving as a member of the Veterans Administration Board on Women Veterans. McClendon wrote two memoirs of her years on Capitol Hill. Through her news service, she also published a biweekly newsletter for many years and presented a syndicated radio program broadcast, at its peak, to more than a thousand radio stations.
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
McClendon, Sarah, My Eight Presidents, Wyden (New York, NY), 1977.
McClendon, Sarah, Mr. President, Mr. President! MyFifty Years of Covering the White House, General Publishing (Los Angeles, CA), 1996.
Chicago Tribune, January 9, 2003, p. 1, 10.
Los Angeles Times, January 9, 2003, obituary by Johanna Neuman, p. B14.
New York Times, January 9, 2003, obituary by Todd S. Purdum, p. A25.
Times (London, England), January 11, 2003.
Washington Post, January 9, 2003, obituary by Adam Bernstein, p. B6.