Remembering Alexander Cockburn

The July 27 CounterSpin noted the passing of one of media criticism’s greatest writers:

FAIR was saddened to hear of the death of radical journalist Alexander Cockburn. He was one of the writers to whom FAIR is most indebted, inspiring a revival of hard-hitting political media criticism with the Press Clips column in the Village Voice, which he launched in 1973, and then with Beat the Devil in the Nation, starting in 1983.

Part of his appeal was simply how well he wrote: He had a voice that could not be imitated–effortlessly stylish, boundlessly informed, savagely funny and unapologetically left.

As fun as he made it look, Cockburn demonstrated that a ruthless debunking of the factual distortions and ideological obfuscations of the establishment press was a vital part of any realistic project for political and social change. In particular, his dismantling of how the New York Times peddled right-wing fantasies about Central America and facilitated the Reagan-era bloodbath in the region was an early model for our work (and that of others).

FAIR had personal connections to Alex as well: He was the beloved uncle of Laura Flanders, the founding co-host of CounterSpin, Extra!‘s editor Jim Naureckas was his intern at the Nation, and Extra! publisher Deborah Thomas worked with him as publisher of the literary journal Grand Street. He will be missed.

Alexander Cockburn with his niece Laura Flanders.

Alexander Cockburn with his niece Laura Flanders.

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.