Richard Reeves: “He explored the presidency and the role of the media in muscular, passionate and occasionally acerbic prose.”

From a New York Times obit by David Stout headlined “Richard Reeves, Columnist and Author on Presidents, Dies at 83”:

Richard Reeves, a journalist and author who explored the presidency, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World II, the role of the media and other aspects of American history in muscular, passionate and occasionally acerbic prose, died on Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 83. . . .

Mr. Reeves, who was a lecturer at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, wrote more than a dozen books and, from 1979 to 2014, a syndicated column that appeared in more than 100 newspapers. He was also a familiar face on public affairs programs on PBS.

As an author, Mr. Reeves was in particular an insightful and unsparing student of the American presidency, producing well-received portraits of John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

His most recent book, “Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II,” was published in 2015. In that book, Mr. Reeves accused two Army officers stationed on the West Coast, Lt. Gen. John DeWitt and Col. Karl Bendetsen — “both bigots, the former a fool, the latter a brilliant pathological liar” — of wildly exaggerating dangers posed by Japanese-Americans there. . . .

In the 1960s and early ’70s, Mr. Reeves was a reporter for The Newark Evening News, The New York Herald Tribune and The New York Times, where his career took off as he covered everything from politics to riots to the Woodstock music festival.

Later, he wrote for Esquire and New York magazine, producing a number of cover-story profiles. On PBS, he appeared as a regular panelist on public-affairs programs in the 1970s and was chief correspondent for the investigative documentary series “Frontline” from 1981 to 1984. His work, in print and on television, won numerous awards. . . .

As judgmental as he could be, Mr. Reeves understood that people in power sometimes do things they regret. “History is written backwards,” he once said, “and it tends to clean up the mess.”

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