Al Neuharth and ‘What You Do for Children’

We’re not in the habit of linking to Accuracy In Media–and here’s an Extra! article that explains why–but I thought this piece, by the apparent though unacknowledged daughter of USA Today founder Al Neuharth, deserved an exception.

Rosamunda Neuharth-Ozgo

Rosamunda Neuharth-Ozgo

Writing in response to a USA Today column by Neuharth (3/20/09) celebrating his six adopted children, Rosamunda Neuharth-Ozgo writes:

My mother, Betty Moore, met Mr. Neuharth in St Paul, Minn., in 1962, at an Associated Press convention. At the time, he was a young editor with the Detroit Free Press and my mother was a Paris-based translator in town on business. I am the result of their affair which continued for more than a year.

With Mr. Neuharth reneging on his paternal responsibilities and my mother unable to care for me, I spent the first few years of my life in a foster home under auspices of the New York City Department of Welfare.

Al Neuharth paid child support to my mother for 21 years, per a 1963 New York City Family Court agreement, but over the years he has gone to great lengths to hide my existence from the world. Despite the overwhelming evidence–which also includes a striking physical resemblance and the fact that his name is listed on my birth certificate–he has steadfastly refused to acknowledge that I am his daughter or to have anything to do with me.

Neuharth-Ozgo recounts various steps that Neuharth has taken over the years to keep her story out of the public eye–including scuttling an authorized biography by Mike Gartner when the former NBC News chief decided he would include a chapter on Neuharth-Ozgo.

Al Neuharth (cc photo: Scott Henrichsen/Knight Foundation)

Al Neuharth (cc photo: Scott Henrichsen/Knight Foundation)

Obviously, if Neuharth is really Neuharth-Ozgo’s father, it’s grotesque for him to be quoting his (third) wife talking about how “what you do for children who need help means more than anything else in your life.”

But even taking at face value his claim that he is not her father, and only paid child support to her mother to avoid publicity–is it really so hard to imagine that a person who grew up with your name on her birth certificate might believe that she’s related to you? While as Neuharth-Ozgo notes, there weren’t DNA tests when she was born, there certainly are now, and the compassionate thing would be for Neuharth to take a paternity test and put her mind at ease one way or another.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.