Tuesday, September 27, 2011

James M. Cannon, journalist, biographer, and presidential advisor

Between 1992 and 1994, I was a periodic fill-in host for a talk show on a Philadelphia NPR station. (At the time I was also host of my own weekday talk show, on a radio station in Bucks County, PA.)

In 1994, on the NPR station, I interviewed James M. Cannon. He had been a political reporter and war correspondent for The Baltimore Sun, was later a writer for Time magazine, and was subsequently National Affairs Editor at Newsweek. Following his journalism career, he became a political advisor to Governor Nelson Rockefeller, was an advisor to Gerald Ford, during Mr. Ford’s presidency, and later served as Chief of Staff to Senator Howard Baker. I interviewed him in 1994 because of a biography of President Ford he had written, Time and Chance: Gerald Ford’s Appointment with History.


I have worked in radio on and off since the mid-1980s, and my interview with Mr. Cannon remains one of the conversations I have most enjoyed.

Time and Chance, his biography of President Ford, was a fine book, and I found Mr. Cannon to be a thoughtful and incisive guest. He grew up in Alabama, and I recall that there was, about him, a gracious, warm and dignified southern manner.

Mr. Cannon recently passed away, at age 93.

Here are two obituaries; they are from The Washington Post, and The New York Times.