Feb 2 2007

Remembering Molly Ivins

Progressive voice a rarity on the op-ed page

Incisive, forceful and funny progressive columnist and author Molly Ivins died January 31 from breast cancer at the age of 62. Ivins’ career included stints as a police reporter at the Minneapolis Star Tribune and a reporter at the New York Times, but most came to know her work through reading her syndicated column, which appeared in over 300 newspapers, making her the most widely syndicated progressive columnist in the country.

Throughout the years, FAIR has been proud to be associated with Molly Ivins. In a syndicated column in 2003, Ivins suggested readers could send donations to a number of grassroots groups—including FAIR, “the overworked folks trying to keep up with right-wing lies in the corporate media.” Sure enough, checks began arriving in our mailbox from Molly’s many fans.

In the introduction to FAIR’s 1995 book The Way Things Aren’t: Rush Limbaugh’s Reign of Error, Ivins described what it was like to be attacked by the right-wing host: “It’s an experience somewhat akin to being gummed by a newt. It does not actually hurt, but it leaves you with slimy stuff on your ankle.” In the introduction to the 1993 book Adventures in Medialand (written by FAIR founder Jeff Cohen and FAIR associate Norman Solomon), Ivins described FAIR as a “refreshing counterpoint to this onslaught of vapid status quo-ism.” She also wrote:

I believe the press’s most serious failures are not its sins of commission, but its sins of omission—the stories we miss, the stories we don’t see, the stories that don’t hold press conferences, the stories that don’t come from “reliable sources.”

Now, sadly, hundreds of newspapers will be missing one more thing: Ivins’ wit and passion, an eloquent advocate for progressive ideas in a media environment where such voices are rare.

No one, of course, can fill Molly Ivins’ shoes. But a fitting tribute to Ivins’ legacy would be a simple gesture: if your local newspaper carried her column, call them today and demand that, in her memory, the paper continue to grant that space to a bonafide progressive voice. The national syndicates give newspapers few to choose from, but Creators Syndicate (which distributed Ivins’ work) offers Alexander Cockburn, Joe Conason, Norman Solomon and Robert Scheer. Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman’s weekly column is syndicated by King Features. Tribune Media Services offers columns by Jesse Jackson and Arianna Huffington. Or if you have a favorite progressive columnist, please suggest their names to your local newspaper.