I.F. StoneHomeLegacy of I.F. StoneIzzy on IzzyA Short BiographyWritingsI.F. Stone SpeechesBiographies of I.F. StoneWorking with I.F. StoneComparison to Walter LippmannTributesAwards Received100th BirthdayI.F. Stone MedalIzzy AwardOther I.F. Stone awardsReminiscencesClose EncountersFrom a DistanceLinks

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The Legacy of I.F. Stone

Close Encounters       

Send your close encounter to jstone@catalyticdiplomacy.org

Bob Cunniff, July 18, 1989:
In 1968, I was a writer-producer on the Today Show. I was already a devout Izzy fan and thought he would make a good guest for the show. I learned that he was red-dotted, vetoed by the sales department. Of course, no such practice existed, but...

So with a couple of other conspirators we booked him for Thanksgiving morning, with no advance announcement to the press or the sales department. I called Izzy, told him that, as a dangerous radical, how did he propose that he be introduced.

No mad idealist, he came up with the idea (true in fact) that he would be compared to Ben Franklin, an independent cuss in the great Yankee American original tradition.

So we had the folks on his side and he did a brilliant explication of the Vietnam quagmire. One of the cameramen came up to me afterward and said he was brilliant but wasn’t he un-American. To which I replied that he was the best, most patriotic American I knew.

And somewhat to my surprise the mail poured in, virtually unanimous on Izzy’s side. Segue to 1969, I had moved to the Dick Cavett Show. Using the same kind of intro, it was a triumph and Izzy was rebooked several times.

When the show went off in September of 1969, a woman was hired just to handle the wildly wildly favorable mail about Izzy. I’d like to congratulate myself for bringing him to a vast audience, but of course it was Izzy who delivered the goods. I saw him once in a while after that and must say it was quite a thrill to walk alongside him going to a restaurant. As you can see, I think he was an amazing man.

Bernard D. Nossiter:
In all the years I worked as a reporter in Washington and abroad, Izzy was my unseen editor. Whenever I was on a story, I’d ask myself: “What would Izzy make of this? Have I pushed it as far as he would? Is there some other document I should read, somebody else I should call? Have I got the right and wrong of it straight?” He was a far more demanding editor than any of the tangible presences on the Washington Post. He was the ethical and professional standard for me, as well as being a dear friend, and I suspect he was for other newsmen too.

Ken Giles of Washington, D.C., July 18, 1989:
In 1974, on behalf of a group of Jewish peace activists here in Washington, D.C., I invited I.F. Stone to speak at Temple Sinai (a Reform synagogue) about Israeli-Palestinian peace. He accepted quite willingly....I was amazed at how friendly both Izzy and Esther were to me and how much interest they took in our “fringe” group trying to raise the issue of Israeli-Palestinian mutual recognition. At the program, Izzy remarked that this was the first time in a long time he had been asked to speak in a synagogue! It wasn’t the last, and in fact Izzy helped inspire a whole movement of progressive Jewish activists to get organized (in groups such as Breira and New Jewish Agenda) and raise issues of peace and justice within the Jewish community. He always spoke up for both Israeli and Palestinian self-determination. It was so straightforward for him. I really valued his clarity.

Patrick D. Hazard in Welcomat, After Dark, July 5, 1989:
The death of Isidor Feinstein Stone at 81 on Father’s Day triggered fond recollections of my brief contacts with him, phoning to set up the I.F. Stone Award for the Free Library’s Art Festival in 1975.

That award–dubbed the Izzie–sought to honor undergraduate journalism in his investigative tradition...Izzie and Esther were clearly thrilled by the title’s winning winsomeness. But with characteristic generosity when I told him we had made a special award to an Atlantic County journalism teacher who’d gotten into hot water when her class exposed fiscal hanky-panky in the audio-visual department, he turned to his wife to say “How blessed we were” to be party to the praise of such a courageous journalism teacher....

When some witless KYW reporter asked him how he felt about finally receiving his degree [on an honorary basis from University of Penn. on the 50th anniversary of his graduating class from which he had dropped out before graduating] Stone gave him the zinger his dumb question earned: “I got out of phys-ed.”

That wry sense of humor may well have been the most attractive trait of this idiosyncratic leftie. The American left has too often smothered itself in its lugubriousness. Izzie leavened his high seriousness with a delightful playfulness.”

Charles A. Miller, August 16, 1989:
(A childhood friend of I.F. Stone’s children provided an account of the struggle to have I.F. Stone invited to the local high school by his Philosophical Society.)

McCarthyism was nowhere a more insidious miasma than among public school officials in Washington, D.C. Children of Congressmen and Senators attended the schools, the school budget was in the hands of the House Committees dominated by southern racists, the slightest provocation by sentient, not to say conniving, adolescents inspired nervous fear....
In February 1955 [our Philosophical Society felt] it was time for a guest speaker. The speaker was to be I.F. Stone. He was to talk to us on “The Theory of Government”. A new policy [required] that speakers for school events,...receive the approval of the principal. ...a form, not yet available, needed to be completed in duplicate. On Friday, February 16, [Principal] Brougher said he had sent the form downtown but ‘had no idea’ when it would come back. ...On April 4, we had the answer: ‘Dr. Brougher told [all concerned] that Mr. Stone was not granted clearance; that our letter [appealing for an answer] was undignified; that this was not a good way to go about things; that we were fortunate that he had a good humor about it; that he did not know why Mr. Stone was denied clearance; and that we could discuss the matter further with him when he had more time.

[The group invited I.F. Stone to speak at the Millers' home.] Stone did not speak on government. He said that the occasion prompted a change in topic and he wished to speak on freedom of expression. For that purpose he brought with him an early (17th century? First edition?) Copy of Areopagitica. He told us about Milton and the fight against official censorship. He let us hold the small book in our hands, tangibly placing us in a tradition that went back to Socrates.”

Morton Mintz, July 31, 1989:
Many times after a story of mine about some vicious, inhuman corporate abuse had appeared on page Q13 or Z28 of The Washington Post the phone rang and there was Izzy lifting my spirits and cheering me on. His calls left me feeling profoundly honored because I admired Izzy more than any other journalist I’ve known in my 43 years as a reporter. I mourn his loss. Never will he be replaced.

George C. Vournas, July 18, 1989:
I first met Izzy when he arrived in Washington for P.M. and we kept in touch during all those years. The thing I recall vividly was his admonition during the war [World War II]:

“George, we must exert every effort to win the war. We must not allow Sparta to win again! She won once and made a mess of things." Blessed be his memory.

Laura Burstein, Institute for Policy Studies, September 12, 1989:
On the privileged occasion that Izzy Stone took me and an intern out for a snack at the bagel shop, he made us laugh with many anecdotes. The one that still gives me a chuckle goes like this:

“I don’t know why so many people accuse me of being too liberal,” said Izzy, “You know, my grandfather was a Republican. But, of course, that was in Czarist Russia.”

Joyce A. Ladner, Ph.D., Howard University, July 12, 1989:
[The writer, then a student at Tougaloo College in Mississippi, relates that she was introduced to I.F. Stone in August 1963 at a March on Washington and he sent her a free subscription to the Weekly.]

“For the next year or two, I received the newsletter and promptly passed it on to my many ‘news-starved’ friends in Mississippi because we got very little news in the ‘closed society’ of the state. I cannot begin to tell you how much that newsletter meant to me. I eagerly looked forward to each publication, savoring all the details of the events we would not have known about.”

Richard Moose, 7/25/89:
Since your father passed away, I’ve thought a great deal about the influence which he had on me. In 1965-66, I frequently had lunch with him–and other impressionable and energetic young souls–at the Nanking, Dutch treat.

From these conversations, I began to develop the habit of constructive skepticism including the realization that government officials considered it o.k. to lie so long as their motives were of a sufficiently lofty variety.

I suppose your father’s indirect influence explains why I could not go back to the foreign service; could not remain long at the White House either time; managed to make the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as mad at me as Henry A. Kissinger was; why I never trusted the career foreign service completely and why, in the end, I came to a healthy mistrust of my own motives.

He was truly a great man; you must miss him but what a legacy and example he left.