Longtime Washington Post reporter and Nieman Watchdog Project founder Murrey Marder died on March 11, 2013, at the age of 93. He was a 1950 Nieman Fellow.
A tireless crusader for watchdog and accountability journalism, he retired as a diplomatic correspondent for the Post in 1985 after reporting there for nearly four decades. During his long and storied career, he covered topics ranging from the Alger Hiss trial the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and was perhaps best known for challenging Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist investigations in the 1950’s. In 1957, Marder opened the Post’s London bureau, the first of the Washington Post Foreign Service. Marder was a Nieman Fellow in the class of 1950 and used his life savings to fund the Nieman Watchdog Project at Harvard.
Writing for Nieman Reports, former Nieman Curator Bill Kovach, NF ’89, noted: “The pop historians have filled pages of praise for Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly, his fellow creator of “See It Now,” as the ones who exposed Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy as the malicious liar that he was. But the pop historians were and are wrong—dead wrong. Murrey Marder was the pathfinder. Murrey drove the first nails into McCarthy’s political coffin. And he did it without the flash and pseudo drama of television or the deft prose of scriptwriters but with quiet, meticulous, careful and fair reporting. He did it, in fact, after being alerted to the broad and deep threat of a virulent current of anti-Communist sentiment flowing though the United States during his year (1949-1950) as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard.”
Nieman curator Ann Marie Lipinski recalled Marder’s generosity and deep commitment to the truth saying “Murrey was a tremendous friend and inspiration to all of us here at the Nieman Foundation. He was passionate about the importance of public interest and watchdog journalism and couldn’t imagine an honest government without it. His career was spent in devotion to this idea and every conversation with him served as a reminder of how and where journalists could do better. He set a high bar for us all.”
- Learn more about Murrey Marder
- Read more about the Nieman Watchdog Project
- Read Marder’s obituary in The Washington Post
- Bill Kovach remembers Murrey Marder, Pathfinder »
- Read Marder’s Nieman Reports article What Happens When Journalists Don’t Probe
- Watch Marder discuss what it was like to cover Sen. Joseph McCarthy
- Read remarks on watchdog journalism from Murrey Marder