Ed and Bobby
Ed Guthman, 89 when he died Sunday, was proud to be No. 3 on Nixon's enemy list, but appalled there was one.>"/>
Ed and Bobby
Ed Guthman, 89 when he died Sunday, was proud to be No. 3 on Nixon's enemy list, but appalled there was one. Injustice was always on his radar, the reason he won a Pulitzer Prize for the Seattle Times and went on to work as an aide to Bobby Kennedy. Guthman's stories exposing the red smear that falsely branded UW professor Melvin Rader a Commie in the 1940s still rank, along with Paul Henderson's expose that exonerated a wrongly accused rapist, as the Times' most admirable Pulitzers. Jack Broom's Times story today reports that Publisher Frank Blethen considers Guthman "one of my true heroes." Guthman also distinguished himself and his paper as he went on to write about the corruption of the Teamsters Union under Seattle's Dave Beck.
In today's Los Angeles Times, where Guthman was an editor and directed the paper's Watergate coverage, a story repeats the praise heaped on the Seattle-born reporter by David Halberstam and Tom Brokaw. There was also this 1962 recollection from Guthman's Kennedy book, "We Band of Brothers," when Guthman and other Kennedy Justice Department officials were in Oxford, Miss., as rioting broke out on the eve of James Meredith's enrollment as the first black student at the University of Mississippi.
A hate-filled mob armed with rocks, chunks of concrete and guns was attacking about 300 federal marshals who were under orders not to fire their pistols at the crowd. Many of the marshals were severely injured. Guthman and the other Justice Department officials watched in agony.
That night, Guthman called Kennedy in Washington to report on the situation. "How's it going down there?" Kennedy asked, to which the aide replied, "Pretty rough. It's getting like the Alamo." After a pause, Kennedy quipped, "Well, you know what happened to those guys, don't you?"
The president sent in the Army to disperse the mob, and Meredith walked up the university steps the next morning.
The exchange between Guthman and Kennedy was repeated in many published accounts of the conflict as a classic example of the camaraderie between the attorney general and his staff.
"The way I look at it, we were beleaguered and blood-spattered and he knew it and worried for our safety. And yet when I think of Oxford," Guthman wrote, "this is what I remember first: the light remark that raised our morale and helped us through the night."