March 20, 2013

The news of the passing of Murrey Marder [“Longtime Post reporter helped disclose McCarthy falsehoods,” Metro, March 15] and the description of his illustrious reporting career transported me to the early months of the first Reagan administration, when there was concern on the part of many that it might try to politicize the Voice of America (VOA). Exhibiting the same journalistic skills and energy that he had used during the McCarthy era and Watergate, Mr. Marder dug into the story with a series of spot-on articles.

I was then a junior member of the public affairs staff at the old U.S. Information Agency (USIA), the VOA’s parent organization at the time, and it fell to me to handle Mr. Marder’s many phone calls and his dogged insistence on getting the facts and background, including a long memo containing recommendations for making the VOA less an objective news organization than an outlet for conservative voices. Mercifully, the tenacious Mr. Marder seemed to understand that he was dealing with a rookie. He could have made our conversations tougher than they were, but he was also unfailingly decent.

As it turned out — and almost certainly because of Murrey Marder’s journalism — there was no politicization of the Voice of America. In the aftermath, the then-director of USIA delighted in telling reporters that the Voice had faithfully covered demonstrations in front of the VOA building in Southwest Washington by employees and others against allegations of politicization.

Joe O’Connell, Gaithersburg