4 Columnists in American Media Worth Reading

Here are some my favorite American journalists who rarely fail to amaze me with their wit and erudition, powerful prose, and clarity of thought.

Peggy Noonan

She writes for the Wall Street Journal. Her Friday columns is a must reading for me. She used to be Ronald Reagan’s speechwriter. A devout Catholic and a committed Republican that I trust, despite the fact that I’m neither.

Her recent comments on Hillary Clinton’s turbulent candidacy should be enough to give you a sense of her depth and brilliance as a political commentator:

“She’ll need more than four years to shake off the impression she made in 2008. And this is how you’ll know she’s making another bid for the presidency. She will wear skirts.

Gone will be the pantsuits that made her look like a small blond man with breasts. It’s the new me, I wear skirts! Her first impulse is to think cosmetically. A long and weary life in politics has left her thinking this is the way to think.”

Rex Reed

Friends, Rex Reed can write movie reviews like nobody’s business. His New York Observer columns are honest and generous in dishing out both praise and punishment.

If you are in the receiving end of his accolades, you don’t need to die to go to Heaven.

Just makes sure you don’t get caught behind that red cape of excuses as his thousand pounds of linguistic fury is launched against your latest movie fiasco or acting shame.

REED HEAVEN: “Without a stick of makeup, in off-the-rack clothes and hair that needs a steam iron, Halle Berry is still the epitome of beauty and grace. But it is Benicio Del Toro who shocks and enthralls.

This character actor with pasty skin, bags under the eyes the size of teacups, and a face like a map of the San Jacinto Valley is always deeply committed, astonishing to look at and full of surprises, but in Things We Lost in the Fire he is a total revelation.”

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REED HELL:  “Everything seems designed to please and fascinate 10-to-12-year-old girls without encouraging stress or premature hormones, and I see no reason why this harmless trend should end now.

But nothing I have come across even begins to sink to the amateurish, rock-bottom, brain-dead bilge Warners has dusted off in the corny, boring and sleep-inducing 2007-style escapades of Nancy Drew redux, called, unimaginatively enough, Nancy Drew. I know this junk is marketed for pulsating pubescents, but why? That’s the only mystery in it worth solving.” [Review of Nancy Drew]

Warren Brown

Warren Brown is proof positive that you can write about ANYTHING you want and can still bring beauty and grace to our lives IF, that is, you actually know how to write well.

Mr. Brown continues to brighten my days with his Washington Post automobile reviews; not that I’m a car nut. Far from it.

But I can’t help enjoying the obvious affection with which he approaches all devices reaching a hundred miles on four wheels, and the social and cultural layers with which he qualifies his reviews. He is a master wordsmith at work, worth emulating.

A sample:

[Describing the control buttons on a BMW 325Ci]: “The entire choreography — for it is nothing short of that — takes place in less than 60 seconds. It is technology as haiku, drudgery transformed into ballet.”

Continues: “The 325Ci thus is the perfect guilt-free car for enjoying and living contradictions — pursuing clear skies and fresh air in a gasoline-powered chariot, enjoying the open spaces paved with concrete and asphalt, and obeying posted speed limits in a car, even with its smallish 184-horsepower engine, designed to shatter them in seconds.

Life is good.”

Frank Deford

My favorite sports writer, hailing from Sports Illustrated and NPR every week.

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Usually Deford is so right, so to the point, that I end up wondering how come I couldn’t think of such an “obvious” point myself, on my own.

If clarity of thought was his only strength, Deford could’ve been a mathematician too. But the man has his artistic side as well, as evidenced by his many best-seller novels.

Deford is one of my favorite writers for generating prose like the following:

[About Beijing Olympics]: “The reflected heat from the torch uproar will also help expose what a humbug the International Olympic Committee can be. This is the organization that loves to call itself a “movement.”

Come on, would we accept it at face value if Commissioner Bud Selig stood up and crowed about the “Major League Baseball Movement”? Would we bow our heads if Mayor Oscar Goodman asked us to pay homage to the “Las Vegas Strip Movement”? Get serious.”

[On Mixed Martial Arts]: “Boxing is the only major sport where the object is to hurt your opponent. Surely there can be no place for such an exercise in a more enlightened 21st century. But what has happened? Boxing has indeed lost favor, not because it’s too violent for the modern civilized world, but because it’s not violent enough.

Boxing is being superseded by what is called the mixed martial arts — emphasis on martial — which apparently is especially attractive because it’s like a video game, only featuring flesh-and-blood human beings. Emphasis on blood.”

UPDATE: The Washington Post reported on 05/29/2017 that celebrated writer Frank Deford has died at the age of 78. Deford’s wife’s told the Post that he died Sunday night in Key West, FL.


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