James Wieghart, 76

James Wieghart, co-author of Iran-contra report, dies at 76

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

James Wieghart, former editor of the New York Daily News and co-author of the Iran-contra report, died Feb. 21 at a hospital in Clare, Mich., of complications from pneumonia. He was 76.

Mr. Wieghart (pronounced WEE-hart), Washington bureau chief for the Daily News in the 1970s, moved to New York in 1981 as executive editor of the newspaper and was promoted to editor and senior vice president the next year. He resigned in 1984 after the Daily News changed publishers, and he returned to Washington as a national political correspondent and syndicated columnist for Scripps Howard.

Mr. Wieghart became a staff director for Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) in 1986. In 1987, he became director of public information for the office of the independent counsel investigating the Iran-contra affair, led by Lawrence E. Walsh, a former federal judge. He served in that position until 1989 and continued working as a consultant on the investigation until 1993. He later described the job of principal writer as "a never-ending battle with a lot of lily-livered lawyers."

Mr. Wieghart became journalism chairman at Central Michigan University in 1989.

Mr. Wieghart, a Chicago native, served in the Army from 1951 to 1954 and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1958. He worked for the Milwaukee Journal and the Milwaukee Sentinel.

When he first arrived in Washington in 1965, he was press secretary for Sen. William Proxmire (D-Wis.) and Rep. Henry Reuss (D-Wis.). Mr. Wieghart joined the Washington staff of the New York Daily News in 1969. He covered the Defense Department and the White House during the presidencies of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. He was promoted to bureau chief in 1975.

He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Sharon Wieghart of Clare; four daughters; and six grandchildren.

-- From news services and staff reports

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