Journalist was Pulitzer Prize winner
LOS ANGELES — Edwin Guthman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was on the infamous “enemies list” prepared by aides of President Richard Nixon and served as press secretary to Robert F. Kennedy, has died. He was 89.
Guthman, who suffered from the rare disease amyloidosis, died Sunday at his Pacific Palisades home, said Bryce Nelson, a family spokesman.
Born Aug. 11, 1919, in Seattle, Guthman attended the U of Washington and worked as a reporter for the Seattle Star before he was drafted in World War II. He was an Army platoon leader in North Africa and Italy, was wounded and received the Purple Heart and the Silver Star.
After the war, he rejoined the Star and then became a reporter for the Seattle Times. In 1950, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. His stories investigated the state Legislature’s Un-American Activities Committee and cleared a University of Washington professor of allegations that he was a Communist supporter.
“He exemplifies the ultimate journalist. I’m successful because of what (he) taught me,’’ CNN anchor and USC alumni Kyra Phillips said during a tribute last year at USC, where Guthman was a journalism professor and senior lecturer for 20 years.
Guthman was press secretary for Attorney General and later Sen. Robert F. Kennedy from 1961-65.
A Kennedy loyalist in his private life, Guthman wrote or edited four books about Robert F. Kennedy. And he always wore a tie clip that President John Kennedy had given him, according to the USC Annenberg School for Communication.
In 1971, Guthman was the third name on a 20-name list of political opponents singled out for harassment in a memo sent from Nixon aide Charles Colson to aide John Dean. It described Guthman, then national editor of the Los AngelesTimes, as having been “a highly sophisticated hatchetman against us in ’68.”
Guthman was Times national editor from 1965 to 1977, then served a decade as editorial page editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Colleagues from the Los Angeles Times mourned his loss Monday.
“Ed Guthman was not only a great friend, but a great journalist,” said Paul Conrad, a longtime political cartoonist for the Times. “He was the only person I ever tore up a cartoon for.”
In the 1990s, Guthman served as a founding commissioner and a president of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission.
He also was one of three outside experts who reviewed — and harshly criticized — a 1993 federal standoff at a Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas that left some 80 people dead.
Guthman taught at USC from 1987 until his retirement last year.
Around the same time, he was diagnosed with amyloidosis, a rare group of diseases that can cause abnormal protein buildup in the organs.
During a tribute last year, former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw praised Guthman as one of the greatest people of the generation, according to the USC Daily Trojan.
“I will always see Ed Guthman as citizen Ed Guthman,” Brokaw said.