Drew Pearson

Drew Pearson

Andrew Russell Pearson (December 13, 1897 to Sep­tem­ber 1, 1969) was born in Evanston, Illinois. In 1902 the family moved to Pennsylvania, where his father, Paul Pearson, became a professor of public speaking at Swarth­more College.

Drew Pearson was one of the best-known American col­umnists of his day, noted for his syndicated newspaper column, “Washington Merry-Go-Round.” He also had a program on NBC Radio entitled “Drew Pearson Com­ments.” Often he attacked conservative politicians, such as Joe McCarthy and Ronald Reagan.

Pearson was educated at Exeter Academy and Swarth­more College, where he edited the student newspaper, The Phœnix. In 1919 Pearson traveled to Serbia where he spent two years rebuilding houses that had been destroyed during the First World War.

After returning to America, Drew taught industrial geog­raphy at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1923 he em­barked on a worldwide tour visiting Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, and India. He paid for his trip by writing stories for an American newspaper syndicate.

He taught briefly at Columbia University before return­ing to journalism, reporting on anti-foreigner demon­strations in China (1927), and in 1928 the Geneva Naval Conference, and the Pan American Conference in Cuba.

In 1929 Pearson became Washington correspondent of the Baltimore Sun. Three years later he joined the Scripps-Howard syndicate, United Features. His Merry-Go-Round column was published in newspapers all over the United States.

Pearson was a strong supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal program. He upset the more conserva­tive editors when he advocated United States involve­ment in the struggle against fascism in Europe. Pear­son’s articles were often censored, and so in 1941 he switched to the more liberal Washington Post.

During the Second World War, Pearson became a radio broadcaster. Soon he became one of America’s most pop­ular radio personalities. After the war he was an enthusiastic supporter of the United Nations and helped to organize the Friendship Train project in 1947. The train traveled coast to coast collecting gifts of food for those people in Europe still suffering from the conse­quences of the war. Images below are from this period.

Pearson in 1947

In the early 1950s Pearson was one of few journalists to stand up against Sen. Joe McCarthy. Along with George Seldes, I. F. Stone, Walter Lippmann, Jack Anderson, Edward R. Murrow, and Herb Block, Pearson played an important role in McCarthy’s downfall. The following video is a portion of a “Washington Merry-Go-Round” seg­ment from Fall, 1953. Duration is eight minutes, 40 seconds, and includes an interview with then-former President Harry S Truman, hosted by Mr. Pearson.

Courtesy of National Archives and Records Service, Office of Presidential Libraries, Harry S Truman Library.