Al Eisele, Longtime Washington Journalist and Founder of The Hill, Dies at 85

From a story on by Alexander Bolton headlined “Al Eisele, founding editor of The Hill, dies at  85”:

Albert Eisele, a founding editor of The Hill who had a long and storied career in Washington and mentored many young journalists along the way, has died….

Al helped found The Hill along with longtime New York Times congressional correspondent Martin Tolchin in September 1994, shortly before the Republican Revolution of that year’s midterm elections.

For years, he penned The Hill’s “Under the Dome” gossip column, for which he collected in-the-know anecdotes from walking the halls of Congress and sidling up to the bars and tables of D.C.’s clubbiest steakhouses.

One of his favorite haunts was the Capital Grille, where he made it a tradition to pop into before every State of the Union Address to catch up on the latest gossip from lawmakers and lobbyists….

Eisele also wrote restaurant reviews for The Hill and his uncanny ability to rack up big tabs without the upper management batting an eye was a testament to how liked and respected he was at the paper as well as to the fact that he remained an old school-style journalist well into the 21st century, when it was becoming a rare breed in a profession increasingly dominated by the fast pace of the internet.

Eisele’s colleagues all knew him to be incredibly generous, whether he was buying an editorial assistant on a tight budget a drink or sharing the latest tip or news nugget he heard on Capitol Hill.

They also knew him as a reporter who could score big, groundbreaking scoops, such as when he reported during a 2005 trip to Iraq that U.S. military police had thwarted an escape attempt by suspected insurgents from Camp Bucca who dug a 600-foot tunnel under the military compound….

Eisele graduated from St. John’s University in 1958 and served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army and pursued a career in professional baseball, pitching for farm teams in the Cleveland Indians organization for four seasons before embarking on his career in journalism.

Eisele later said  that he had an excellent fastball and would have made the big leagues if he only perfected his curve….

He worked for the St. Paul Pioneer Press-Dispatch before he was sent to the Washington bureau of Ridder newspapers in 1965.

During his stint in Washington, he covered two of Minnesota’s most prominent politicians, Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Senator Eugene McCarthy.

In 1972, he published a dual biography of Humphrey and McCarthy titled “Almost to the Presidency.”

He also got to know then-Senator Walter Mondale, who started his Senate career in 1964, shortly before Eisele joined Ridder’s Washington bureau.

Mondale hired Eisele in 1976 to be his vice presidential press secretary, a position Eisele held until 1981, when President Carter left office after losing his reelection bid to Ronald Reagan.

In 1981, Eisele helped found the nonpartisan Center for National Policy….From 1983 to 1989, he served as an assistant to the CEO of Control Data Corp., according to a biography posted of Eisele posted by St. John’s University’s McCarthy Center. He then founded Cornerstone Associates in 1989, an international consulting firm that helped bring former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to Minnesota in 1990….

“Al was an institution at The Hill,” Bob Cusack, The Hill’s editor in chief, said. “I can’t tell you how many lawmakers asked about him over the years. He was a mentor to so many journalists and one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.”

During his years at The Hill, he worked simultaneously on a biography of the late Cardinal Richard Cushing of Boston….

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