Ralph Nader writes: It’s doubtful there has ever been a better, more dauntless and more unsung investigative reporter than Fred J. Cook. For Nation readers from the 1950s through the 1980s, Fred blazed wide pathways with his exposés of New York City corruption, the abuses and follies of the CIA and the FBI, and the waste and overreaching of the military-industrial complex. These and other subjects were nearly journalistic taboos before Cook’s lucid muckraking and synthesis of ideas and trunkloads of “disparate” information, supplied him by the Nation’s legendary editor, Carey McWilliams, broke them into print. Other reporters followed him and expanded the public’s right to know about secret government and the corporate state. Publishers produced longer book versions of Cook’s reportage reaching wider audiences. Young reporters, including myself, were inspired to open new areas of injustice shielded from public scrutiny. Fred’s last books were on the oil industry giants, the Ku Klux Klan and his autobiography. He told me how disappointed he was that reviewers had ignored the books. Their sales were small. Even journalism schools showed no interest in the life story of a small-town reporter who gave pride to his often-cowed profession. After these unrequited efforts, Cook turned in his typewriter and went into quiet retirement. Cook and McWilliams were possibly the greatest reporter-editor team in post-World War II journalism in our country. They stand as a luminous model challenging the trivialization of the news by a press in indentured servitude to corporate supremacists.


Nation movie critic Stuart Klawans has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Our congratulations.


Representative Scott McInnis announced that he has asked the Veterans Affairs Department to stop purchasing tombstones from Imerys, a French company that’s the main supplier of headstones for national cemeteries. “It’s obviously inappropriate,” McInnis said, “for a company owned by French interests to be supplying headstones for the VA when the French have done everything in their power to undermine the very troops from whose sacrifice they now stand to profit.”