Journalism and politics have a certain symbiosis and more than a few people in one of those fields tend to move into the other. Congress has included numerous former journalists -- and even active publishers -- in its ranks.
Still, it's comparatively rare when a former member of Congress moves back into journalism as a hired-hand reporter. Perhaps unique among these is Richard Dean (Max) McCarthy, the Washington bureau chief for The Buffalo News.
Metro Scene is indebted to Dateline, a biweekly newsletter of the National Press Building for uncovering McCarthy's background. The News has its offices in the building, now undergoing renovation.
"I came to Washington in 1952 to work for this very same paper, and I know my way around pretty well by now," the 57-year-old McCarthy told Dateline. "In 1964, I was temporarily corrupted into politics" -- three terms as a suburban Buffalo Democratic congressman -- " and I enjoyed that for a while, but I enjoy reporting more, so I made myself honest and returned to The Buffalo News."
The experience was worthwhile, McCarthy said: "I have more contacts and a broader range of experience than most Washington correspondents. My political experience makes a real difference when I'm trying to get a story."
As indicated above, there is a rich tradition of former newspeople or active publishers serving in Congress. The late senators Arthur Capper (R-Kan.), a publisher, and Arthur H. Vandenberg (R-Mich.), an editor, come quickly to mind.
Rep. Louis L. Ludlow (D-Ind.) served as a Washington correspondent for The Indianapolis News and other papers for 28 years before his election to 10 years in Congress. In a little-remembered aspect of his colorful life, Rep. William Randolph Hearst, owner of a far-flung newspaper chain and son of Sen. George Hearst (D-Calif., 1886-91), represented a New York City district, also as a Democrat (1903-07). Another father-son team was Rep. Joseph R. Knowland (R-Calif., 1904-1915) and Sen. William F. Knowland (R-Calif., 1945-59), both publishers of the Oakland Tribune.
And there's at least one local example: Rep. Charles C. Carlin (D-Va., 1907-19) was the editor and publisher of The Alexandria Gazette.