Newspapers don't have an equivalent of television's anchorpeople. So when our counterparts of John Cameron Swayze or Walter Cronkite retire, with their faces and voices unknown to readers, they tend just to disappear.
That's a preamble to my effort to redress the bias. The news here is that Murrey Marder, the most senior writer on The Washington Post, whose byline has graced our pages since 1946, has retired. He says he's 66, but he looks 46, and he'll devote his time to writing books and articles about foreign affairs, his specialty for years.
He was honored at a staff party Wednesday evening by Katharine Graham, the chairman of the board of our publishing company, and Ben Bradlee, our executive editor, and he gave his own low-key valedictory -- which included a recollection that it was he who devised the phrase "credibility gap" to describe the differences between events and what President Lyndon Johnson had to say about them in the Vietnam War era.
Marder also was The Post's principal reporter during the McCarthy era -- for those with short memories, the 1950s period in which Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy (R-Wis.) leveled charges of disloyalty among many government employes -- and he was the right man for the job. Although The Post's editorial page was solidly (and, to my mind, correctly) anti-McCarthy, I harbor no doubt that the starchily ethical Marder took the story down the middle and would have protested an editing change that might have tilted a story against the senator more than the facts deserved.
Marder began his newspaper career in 1936 as a copyboy at the old Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger, served in the Marine Corps as a combat correspondent during World War II (when he met recently retired Post police reporter Alfred E. Lewis and former Post reporter Stan Stavisky), then joined this newspaper in 1946.
He served on the city staff at first, briefly as suburban editor, then made his way onto the national staff. He opened The Post's first fulltime foreign bureau in 1957, staying in London until 1960. He and his wife Frances live in Southwest Washington.