Walsh, Kenneth T(homas) 1947-

views updated

WALSH, Kenneth T(homas) 1947-


Male. Born May 29, 1947, in New York, New York; son of Thomas Gerard and Gloria (Junior) Walsh; married Barbara ("Barclay") Howarth, June 13, 1982; children: Jean, Christopher. Education: Rutgers University, B.A., 1968; American University, M.A., 1970.


Home—Bethesda, MD. Office—U.S. News and World Report, 1050 Thomas Jefferson St. NW, Washington, DC 20007-3871.


Journalist and author. New York Times, Washington, DC, news clerk, 1969-70; Associated Press (AP), Denver, CO, newsman, 1972-76; Denver Post, Denver, reporter, statehouse correspondent, and political editor, 1976-79, chief political writer and political columnist, 1979-81, Washington correspondent, 1981-84; U.S. News and World Report, Washington, DC, correspondent, 1984-86, White House correspondent, 1986—. American University, Washington, DC, adjunct professor, 1993—. Military service: U.S. Army, First Lieutenant, 1970-72.


White House Correspondents Association (board member, 1990-98, president, 1994-95).


Aldo Beckman Award for distinguished White House coverage, White House Correspondents Association, 1991; Gerald R. Ford Prize for distinguished reporting on the presidency, Gerald R. Ford Foundation, 1992, 1998; named Outstanding Adjunct Professor, American University, 1998.


Feeding the Beast: The White House versus the Press, Random House (New York, NY), 1996.

Ronald Reagan, Park Lane Press/A&E Books (New York, NY), 1997.

Air Force One: A History of the Presidents and Their Planes, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2003.


Long-time journalist and well-respected Washington correspondent Kenneth T. Walsh has written several books stemming from his years covering the White House for publications such as U.S. News and World Report. In Feeding the Beast: The White House versus the Press, Walsh delves into the longtime battle between journalists and the White House, from the president to chiefs of staff to the numerous "press people" hired as media buffers. Walsh provides a brief history of the relationship between the press and the president beginning with George Washington and concluding with Bill Clinton. Playing no favorites, he takes a hard look at the White House and how it tries to manipulate the press for image purposes and, as noted by Aruthur K. Steinberg in Presidential Quarterly Studies, seeks "the high ground for the next election." Walsh also pillories both the press and the U.S. public in their "lust for a quick fix," as Steinberg noted. He also questions reporters' willingness to delve into personal matters even though such matters are irrelevant with regard to a person's competency to govern. The book also includes a look at what Walsh believes are the three major reasons for the disintegrating relationship between the White House and the press: the Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal that toppled President Richard Nixon, and television. A Publishers Weekly contributor found that Walsh's "anecdotal history … strains for judgment." On the other hand, Washington Monthly reviewer Lewis Wolfson commented that the book "is a smooth yarn about the guilt, grievances, and dogged triumphs of the White House press corps, and about presidents' mystical yearning to create a bond with Americans by going through, around, and over the heads of journalists."

Walsh's Ronald Reagan is a biography of the former U.S. president, tracing Reagan's life from his childhood in Illinois through his acting career and on to his political career, which culminated in his eight-year tenure as president. Upon Reagan's death in 2004, Walsh wrote an article for U.S. News and World Report in which he commented that it may be "most appropriate to remember Reagan for the simple personal precepts he represented: a lifelong belief in the goodness of the American people and the firm belief that if someone sticks to his guns, he can truly change the world."

Walsh's third book, Air Force One: A History of the Presidents and Their Planes, was published in 2003. A passenger on the U.S. president's air craft, Air Force One, more than 200 times, Walsh expands his interest in the plane into an historical look at U.S. presidents and air travel, including a history of presidential planes, the decisions presidents have made while in flight, and how presidents generally behave in their flying domains, which are typified by close quarters and a relaxed atmosphere. In addition to reporting on his own experiences on Air Force One, Walsh interviewed former presidents, White house officials, and Air Force One staff. A Kirkus Reviews contributor found that Walsh does little to support his theme that Air Force One "is in the same symbolic league as the Statue of Liberty and the White House." George Cohen, writing in Booklist, found Walsh's obvious bias toward some presidents to be disconcerting, but noted, "Readers who set aside this bias will find much to interest them."



Booklist, May 1, 1996, Mary Carroll and Gilbert Taylor, review of Feeding the Beast: The White House versus the Press, p. 1474; April 1, 2003, George Cohen, review of Air Force One: A History of the Presidents and Their Planes, p. 136.

Editor and Publisher, December 14, 1996, Hiley Ward, review of Feeding the Beast, p. 17.

Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, autumn, 1997, Stephen G. Bloom, review of Feeding the Beast, p. 647.

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2003, review of Air Force One, p. 372.

Library Journal, April 1, 1996, Chet Hogan, review of Feeding the Beast, p. 103; March 15, 2003, Joyce M. Cox, review of Air Force One, p. 102.

Presidential Studies Quarterly, fall, 1997, Arthur K. Steinberg, review of Feeding the Beast, p. 859.

Publishers Weekly, March 4, 1996, review of Feeding the Beast, p. 40; January 21, 2002, Johyn F. Baker, review of Air Force One, p. 16.

Quill, April, 1996, Chris Petrakos, review of Feeding the Beast, p. 34.

Res Gestae, June, 1999, Elsa F. Kramer, "Reporter Has Covered Last Three Presidents," p. 24.

U.S. News and World Report, Steven Waldman, "Local Boy Makes Good, Part II," p. 6.

Washington Monthly, June, 1996, Lewis Wolfson, review of Feeding the Beast, p. 55.


U.S. News and World Report,http://www.usnews.com/usnews/ (June 21, 2004), Kenneth T. Walsh, "An American Story."*

About this article

Walsh, Kenneth T(homas) 1947-

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article