Tom Shales Still Has a Lot to Say—But Where Can You Read Him?

By Jack Limpert

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 3.03.39 PMBen Bradlee named Tom Shales the Washington Post’s television critic in 1977. In 1988 Tom won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. Then on December 31, 2010, he was pushed out the door by Marcus Brauchli, the anti-Bradlee who lasted four years as Post editor until he was replaced by Marty Baron. Tom still has something to say, but now you have to read him on Facebook:

STEVE KROFFT, COULD U PLEASE SHUT UP AND LET THE P R E S I D E N T OF THE UNITED STATES ANSWER YOUR DAMNED ENDLESS QUESTIONS???

KROFFT: “I feel like I’m being filibustered.” (THIS AFTER ASKING LONG LONG QUESTIONS & INTERRUPTING SOME OF OBAMA’S ANSWERS).

OBAMA: “IF YOU GIVE ME BIG OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS, EXPECT BIG OPEN-ENDED ANSWERS.”

He also challenged Krofft to “roll back the tape” & note how much Krofft had said vs how little Obama was allowed to say. THIS WAS NOT AGGRESSIVE QUESTIONING; IT WAS DISRESPECT.
—–
I go back a ways with Tom. In 1967, when he was trying to graduate from American University, I hired him at $50 a week to write for the D.C. Examiner, a weekly tabloid that lasted only a few years. He then wrote for the Washingtonian magazine and in 1972 Ben Bradlee hired him for the relatively new Washington Post Style section.

While at the Post, Tom co-authored, with James Andrew Miller, a best-selling book, Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, as Told By Its Stars, Writers and Guests. It’s been updated and is still lots of fun to read.

After leaving the Post, Tom wrote for Huffington Post and for Roger Ebert’s website until Ebert’s death in 2013.
—–
Tom also sometimes comments on stories on this website. Here’s a comment from last Friday:

Old Tom Shales says:
October 9, 2015 at 5:09 pm
Do writers EVER write the headlines on their own stories? I don’t, but I’m not complaining. Never really wanted to. However i do remember with shameless pride a headline I wrote for a journalism class exercise at dearly beloved AU. The story concerned a fire that claimed not only a house but a bird-house, one which had been located in an adjoining tree; its destruction meant that the occupants had to seek new quarters.. And now, my 4-word, 2-line head: ROBINS ROUTED; ROOST ROASTS. Funny, the things one remembers….

Tom will be 71 in November and is as funny and cantankerous as ever. If I still had an editorial budget, I’d hire him again.
—–
In a note, Tom admits to misspelling the name of Steve Kroft (“There are no editors on Facebook”) but does not admit to his alleged age (“I’d like to say you are 10 years off”).

 

 

 

Speak Your Mind

*