Investigative reporter Wayne Barrett began reporting on Donald Trump in 1979. He was perhaps the first journalist to take Trump seriously and became a renowned authority on the would-be president, as well as a mentor to a new generation of muckraking journalists. Barrett died the day before Trump took the oath of office. Fran Barrett and Eileen Markey are the driving forces behind Without Compromise, a new edited volume of Wayne’s papers, which are archived at the Briscoe Center.
[0:00:05 Don Carleton] This is American Rhapsody, a podcast of the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin. Each episode we interview those who witnessed American history first and who have since donated their archives to the Briscoe Center. We also talked to historians, journalists and others who research in those collections. We’re all asking the same question. What actually happened?
[0:00:39 Speaker Unknown] The story of Trump really is that rather than this Horatio Alger entrepreneurial emblem that he was, he was a state capitalist up and down the line. His wealth was created by the state. He was designated to be a billionaire
[0:00:52 Don Carelton] In 1979 while working on assignment for New York City’s Village Voice, investigative reporter Wayne Barrett spent months investigating developer Donald J. Trump’s New York business dealings. Over the next 40 years, Barrett would do so again and again. In fact, he was arguably the first reporter in America to take Trump seriously, seeing past the glitzy celebrity aura and remaining focused on the deals and how they were made. Trump wasn’t the sole focus of barrettes reporting. His larger target was the murky world of New York City politics in general. Barrett investigated kickbacks special favors, political contributions, the art of the dodgy deal, so to speak. His reporting chronicle the business and political careers of many, including Rudy Giuliani, Roger Stone, Roy Cohn at Koch and numerous others. Barrett died in January 2017, the night before Trump assumed the presidency. Before his death, he had become unenthusiastic mentor to a new generation of reporters interested in the character and psyche of America’s 45th president. In fact, he welcomed many reporters toe work through his old notes, scattered among a miscellany of boxes in his Brooklyn office and basement. Today, Barrettes papers are housed at the Dolph Briscoe Center. They were donated by his wife, Fran Barrett, who lives in Brooklyn and works in the New York Governor’s Office, helping nonprofits partner with state government to provide public services. Fran and Wayne were a team. She managed their shared life in a way that allowed him to be a single minded in his approach to reporting. And she’s been one of the driving forces behind a project to collect. Wayne’s were in a new compendium. The result, without compromise was published this fall by bold type books without compromise, is edited by Eileen Marquee, an assistant professor of journalism and media studies at Lehman College City University of New York. Eileen worked for Wayne Barrett as an intern in the 19 nineties. She’s noted that Barrett taught her the joy of digging and the power of fax skills that served the historian as much as the reporter and skills she needed to see out the project. She spent months working in the Briscoe Centers Barrett papers to uncover the very best of his reporting, and the result is an outstanding volume. The showcases buried it work as well as offering a unique window into New York City politics.
[0:03:55 Don Carelton] Fran Barrett and Eileen Marquis. Welcome.
[0:03:56 Don Carleton] So what was the motivation behind this book Project itself? What were you, What was your goal?
[0:04:03 Fran Barrett] I guess Eileen was there from the very beginning. But it was mostly journalist who who wanted to keep alive in general. This, you know, rigorous approach to investigative reporting that was not unique to wane. But that Wayne sort of, you know, was very public about and had, you know, quite a lot of things to say about it and did, in fact, work with any number of interns one of whom was Eileen. And, uh so the idea was the value of journalism, the truth telling nature of journalism and the fact that journalism is fact based. And all of that was, you know, how do we make that come alive? We at first the first gatherings, we agreed that we would raise some money, and our first thought was to fund stories that would not otherwise get published. And we did that for about a year. I think we sort of supported about five or six stories we affiliated with with the nation. And, uh, we, uh But at the end of it, we felt like one story, every you know, when we re evaluated that we were having sort of, you know, one story every couple of months or something wasn’t really getting to the impact that we had hoped to. And then we were sitting around one night and, uh, the subject came up with Well, maybe what we should do is a book. At that point, we were all collectively concerned about the president’s leadership, and we realized that Wayne had done most of the original work or early work on Donald Trump and that we thought. Okay, well, here’s the way we can raise Wayne’s voice into this political debate, but also raised the fact that journalism is the only way to get at this problem. So that’s that’s how we got to the idea of the book. And then the next step, the the critical step. Really? Was There were two critical parts that had to come together. One was that, uh, we had already, uh, benefited from having met you and having been able to create the archive at Briscoe and second was Eileen we And once we had those two things, we were often running, and that’s just sort of how the book came to be. It’s a collection of pieces that that I mean conspiracy to. But it was. That’s how we how we got to the book.
[0:06:45 Don Carleton] Well, let me say I mean, the book is so important to have this book out, and but it’s also I’ve always felt that journalists and historians are siblings in many ways and, you know, there’s a direct connection between the two professions in my mind, and we were talking about fax. Uh, there’s never been a time in my life where the facts weren’t more important and preserving the facts, not just, you know, you have to preserve them first before you can disseminate them. So we’re trying to preserve the factd and, uh, you know, way like to tell people that we’re also providing a function by countering. But by having the actual evidence of what actually happened, uh, encounters the history deniers and and and the people who just make the politicians who just make it up as they go along, uh, to support their cause. Eso I congratulate you on dso Delighted you’re doing this? Um, yeah. I mean, you met Wayne as an intern, I think, in the late nineties, 19 nineties, at the Village Voice. Is that correct?
[0:07:59 Eileen Markey] Yeah, you’re right. I was a junior at Fordham University in the Bronx, and I’d I’d worked for my hometown newspaper, Newhouse newspaper in Springfield, Massachusetts, in high school, and summers and college the early summers. And then I wanted to stay in the city one summer and, uh, and getting internships. And there’s these internships at the Village Voice and my application got put in the Wayne Barrett pile. And so I Oh, my God. From Springfield for an interview.
[0:08:23 Don Carleton] What was that experience like working with
[0:08:26 Eileen Markey] tremendous, tremendous. I’ve I’ve said this a couple of people lately, but you know, the Peace Corps used to have this slogan that it’s the toughest job you’ll ever love. Um, and and that’s what it felt like being Wayne’s intern. You’ve got this amazing education on New York City and the under history of New York City and the, um, really a long And you know, he had such a vast knowledge of how New York City operated starting from the sixties when he arrived and began reporting. Um, you know, that was 30 35 years at that point, um, and most of the intern to work with them, obviously where college kids or right out of college. And so we were really excited to be working at the school newspaper. And you know, there’s still enough of a room about you when you’re 19 or 20 or 21. It’s impressive, exciting. Just goto work for the village voice, right to go down there in the morning and take the train and walk out Grant Village and think you’re part of this part of the story. of New York City journalism. Um, but in particular, working for Wayne was this amazing education
[0:09:29 Don Carleton] was was was his style tough love or was very nurturing
[0:09:35 Eileen Markey] Very tough love, really famously among it turns tough love. Yeah, and absolutely demanding is unreasonable Irascible, um, prone to shouting Thought who was also incredibly kind and sweet and generous. And I write about that a little bit in the book. Um, you know, there’s kind of ah speak among in terms that we like to tell these war stories and, you know, in other parts of journalism and people here that you, in turn from Wayne Barrett, they say, Oh, well, I heard it was really tough, and it’s true. And I think we all kind of, you know, a little bit swagger that we interned for him. Um, but the fact is that the reason we all kept in touch for 20 and 30 years after our internships and the reason so many of us feel so strongly, you know, mourned his sickness and his death so much and feel so strongly about getting his reporting out there to ever wider audience now is it because he was a tough boss. It was because he was a great journalists that we feel loyal to him. And he was really good to us, right? He was really kind to us. Wrote us recommendation letters for the rest of our lives. He found job openings for us for the rest of our lives. He shared tips right when we all went into journalism. Um, and he had things that would be useful for whatever story. Whoever the former intern with working on you would you would get information you would get called you, would get direction. Um, and he was often often there for so many of us, as you know, as a sounding board as a reality track check so that you call weighing up and say, What? What do you make of this? Is this the right thing to do or where should I go next in my career? Or is this person a reliable source? Someone. So are they. What’s their background? And of course, he would have chapter on in verse on every political operative operating in New York. Um, so, yes, he was a very hard boss, but he was a really great reporter and a really great friend and advocate and mentor, Andi. Kind of like godfather to a lot of us.
[0:11:39 Don Carleton] Did he did. He stressed skepticism.
[0:11:43 Eileen Markey] He stressed skepticism. He stressed anger like the right kind of outrage. Uh, journalists. Sometimes I think you get themselves confused in these sort of academic debates around objectivity. Um, and Wayne wasn’t objective. He thought that people who stole from the public trust were bad. He thought that people who ripped off four people were bad. He thought that people who used public office to enrich themselves were bad. He was against that on, and he didn’t cover it like a basketball game or a football game. He covered it like a crime. Um, what’s objective is what he taught us is the method. And so he wrote in one of his one of his essays, Um, as he was leaving the paper that, you know, his politics were always clear, but his reporting wasn’t partisan. Hey, never looked past the wrist of the hand in the public till right, So if it was a Democrat ripping off the people, or if it was a Republican ripping off the people, if it was someone who he had previously Val Arised, Um, or if it was somebody who had known was a crook for a long time, they were all fair game on. I think that’s really worth thinking about now. We’re in this media landscape that is really very, very partisan. Um, that, you know, you go to your news channel because that’s what you believe, and I go to mine because that’s what I believe and we get. It’s like separate churches. We get separate fax, we get separate stories. It’s a you’re gonna find a whole different narrative of what’s happening in the country. Depending on what publication do you read. And that’s not right. That’s not good journalism. Um, and so Barrett, you know, it was no. It was no secret that Barrett was a liberal Democrat, but that might have been a secrets of the Liberal Democrats, who he pilloried in his columns. Right? Uh, there might have been a surprise to them, so he taught us that the reporting is objective, that the methods or objective that’s
[0:13:38 Don Carleton] right. And that’s where we go back as we were talking earlier about fax right, how important facts are That’s the way we e. I mean again. This is there’s so many common factors together here between journalism and history because we’re all about the facts also. I mean, we could we interpret the facts the way we see them, based on all kinds of variables, but they still have to be fax, you know. And so what you’re telling me is he was very strong on on the facts part of it. But then he believe that you needed to interpret those facts the way you could see them.
[0:14:12 Eileen Markey] And he honest that it’s worth walking a mile to get a fact that it’s worth work in three weeks, digging through records to find a fact. Um, and I think that’s one of the things that really distinguishes him from other reporters who were working during during the years he was working and really distinguishes him from a lot of what passes as media today, um, or passes is something like news today. All right. He didn’t write his opinion. He met a secret source by the side of the highway late at night and got a grand jury report, and then he could cite it. You know, um, he dug through mountains of campaign finance data and cross reference that with probate reports to understand whom was related to whom and then could cite it and say, Here’s the money that went to this politician. Here’s the zoning variance that that thunder got in return and that it was worth sweating to get those facts. It was worth working hard to find them. So, you know, when his papers, um, wonderfully were sent to you guys and and organized by the Briscoe Center. Hey, it’s that it’s fantastic that his papers exist and that his papers air now preserved in an archive. And I think there’s some sort of beautiful poetic symmetry in the fact that that a number of journalists now have gone to to access those papers in the Briscoe Center archive. Um, because what Barrett really taught his interns is the love of digging, Uh, this belief that what you’re looking for is somewhere it’s written down. Somebody put it on a piece of paper somewhere. Some some court has an official document on it. Some tax file exists. Um, there’s a Election board of elections, you know, buff card on such and such, and we confined fax. We don’t have to use conjecture. Uh, and so now the fact that these hundreds of boxes of his reporting exist there in your fantastic archive is just beautiful. So that’s what I was thinking a lot when I was down when I was in Austin with you last fall was this sort of gorgeous circular poetry of, Right? Alright. 20 years ago, when I was a kid, this guy taught me to really love digging in, uh, digging into documents. Loved that. That feeling when you find the document Ah ha. See here I got it notarized. And and so then spending a week diving into the box is at the center, in this case, looking for Wayne.
[0:16:51 Don Carleton] Uh, well, you you sound like a historian to May darling, which is
[0:16:55 Fran Barrett] I think, you know, you know she is. She is part historian. I’m sure she would, you know, because her you know Eileen’s point about faxes, so we’ll take it. It’s sort of the thing that mattered more to two way and, uh, often a struggle between the two of us personally, because I’m not really a detailed fact person. So I will make some statement, and he would cross examined me over what? You know, like whether or not that was actually actually actually what was said or who was there or what I saw or whatever. So we often yeah, on the personal level, we had a major ongoing dispute about what? Whether or not that was the most important thing in life. But the facts were documented for Wayne in all of the a xylene says the divorce papers, the bankruptcy papers, anything that he could get that would sort of give, uh, you know, put that, you know, be the source of that fact that he could show someone else. And after so many years of him doing that, Aziz, you could attest, um, that you and your staff came to see that there were Walter wall boxes in our house, backed him. He was not wanna believed in filing in any way that anyone could understand. He understood it, but it wasn’t alphabetical or chronological. It was just box after box after box. I have photographs off, you know, our basement floor, which was just wall to wall boxes, and they were not just there. We had a time. We had a a second house and near the Jersey Shore, near where my mother lived and there were boxes there. And then there were boxes at the Nation Institute, and there were there were boxes everywhere and and what to do with them, I mean, and how to you know how to make sense of them? Or was it on Lee that Wayne was the only person who would ever be able to understand where they were? I mean, people would call and say they were looking for a document. Other journalists and Wayne would say, Yes, I have that. But it’s in the basement. You’d have to go find it so these poor souls would come to our house and then spend a week looking for the right box that had the piece of paper in it, that they need it and that Wayne remembered, actually existed. But you know, in no way organized in any way that anyone could access it much like history. It can’t just be a blur. It’s got to be organized in some way. And really, that’s I think The gift that Briscoe has given us is taking all of those fax and putting them in an order that other people who are looking at an issue or a problem, uh, you know, can search through them. So that’s quite remarkable, really. And beyond my wildest expectations, because I was totally overwhelmed with the, uh I don’t know. At one point your staff had to account those toe how maney, how many boxes there were. Exactly as I do remember coming up the block after you. Your team had been there for maybe two weeks, I don’t know. And in Brooklyn and they I was coming up the street and my neighbor stopped me and he said, Fran, are you moving on? I said, No, no, Why? And there’s a moving van on in front of my house with taking the boxes out. You know, that’s how many boxes there were. There was actually like a moving van type truck that had to come and take them away, and that was only one location. They also went to New Jersey, and they went somewhere else to find things to
[0:20:56 Don Carleton] There was a great project. Uh, for my staff believe may they really remember It was a very memorable visit that they had.
[0:21:06 Fran Barrett] There I was. I was stunned that the nightmare of my life. Which was all these boxes? Was your staff arriving? They go there, they’re overjoyed. They’re like, Oh, look at this. Oh, look at that. And I’m, like, way Don’t look at these things the same way, because to me, it just looks like a nightmare that I’ll never be able to get out from under you.
[0:21:28 Don Carleton] Well, you know, you couldn’t have stated it better really, than you, Actually. Better than I can about what it is that we do on what we’re what we’re doing with Wayne’s papers and sorting and preserving and maintaining them and making them accessible, uh, to anyone who needs access to them. You did a beautiful job of describing what we do, Fran. I appreciate that. Let me ask you also what What’s your What are your hopes, friend for these papers in the future, if you can kind of take a glimpse ahead if you can, I mean, you know what? What do you hope is going to be done with them in terms of not from our standpoint, but from our users and our visitors?
[0:22:13 Fran Barrett] Well, I think that these documents record the history of New York in a way that you know is not done in other places. And so the people who want to understand or the history of the of the country in some ways you know, it’s if you want to understand how we got where we are, we have to understand where we were and all the small compromises that were made all the times we looked the other way. That’s that’s how we got where we are today. And the Waynes work was singularly about not letting that happen, never looking the other way, always finding, you know, the fact making the point that something that was being said was not true and ought to be challenged for the truth. If that’s and that’s where the truth rests, is in those files that now existed. Briscoe. That’s where the truth of who did walk to who, who got money for what, who got money and because they got money. They did something else that all of that is mapped out in terms of, you know, as a as a case example, maybe in the city of New York, Uh, but not just New York. And then he there was, you know, he had a much broader reach than the city. But I feel like that’s what my That’s why I feel so good about Briscoe. Even though I mean, you know, I’m a I’m a Brooklyn girl. And when you first called May, I was like, Why on earth would I send Wayne’s papers to Texas? I mean, of course, and had, in fact, come up in several conversations with other journalists. Fran, what were you thinking? Why did you send everything to Texas? Right? Why do we have to go to Texas? But in the truth of the matter is that you were first of all, you were artful and charming and diligent and persistent. Um, but also, you were offering a complete, respectful package of what could be done. Other folks who spoke to me we’re talking to me about Well, it would be a few years, uh, so they could even consider, you know, putting staff to it. And it would take a lot of staff. Uh, they had lots of trepidation about the scope of it or the breath of it that didn’t bother you one bit. You were like, the bigger the better. The more information That’s what we offered. That’s what we do. We want information. So I just felt like you had all the right, the instincts that that Wayne would that Wayne would respect. You know that Wayne would want to hear it. Wayne has a sister who lives in Texas, and he was raised in Virginia. He was his son of the South. And, uh, you know, that was also, you know, something that sort of stuck in my head as I looked at Texas.
[0:25:29 Don Carleton] Well, Fran, thank you for saying that. You know, size has never doubted us. I must say way. Well, you know, when you get the Exxon Mobil archive and they come to you and 20 tractor trailer trucks Eso uh, anyway, eso You know, let’s let’s switch Thio. Shall I say the elephant in the room for just a few minutes and let me explain what I mean. Uh, you know, obviously, Overly large focus of Wayne’s work from the late seventies was the career of a certain New York developer named Donald Trump. How did Trump get on Wayne’s radar that early in Trump’s career? Uh, you know, why do you think Wayne took Trump seriously before so many other people did.
[0:26:24 Eileen Markey] I mean, that’s a great the way you phrased. It is really the key thing. He took him seriously. Ah, Donald Trump never had any shortage of bank in in the mid in late seventies. He was getting lots of coverage in the New York press. Um, in a as a celebrity, hey was getting a lot of public relations coverage. Frankly, um, it’s funny toe. Even think of Wayne conceiving of something in the terms of celebrity, right? He was on Lee Onley serious in those kinds of ways. Um, so he took Donald Trump seriously, Because here was this developer Ah, creature of the clubhouse. His father was a creature of clubhouse politics in Brooklyn and queens. Um, Wayne Barrett and his mentor, Jack Newfield, had had really made their vocation around, reporting on and shedding a disinfecting sunlight on the machination to the political clubhouse in the boroughs of New York City. And that clubhouses stranglehold on the beam administration. Initially, when Wayne started writing the mayor of New York in the seventies, um, and here was this developer making the leap from Queens real estate. Brooklyn real estate to Manhattan to the Big Legs Bright City. And he made that leap with all of the cigar chomping, smoke filled room favor dealing benefits of his father and of the political clubhouse of New York City. Andi. He made that leap with really wide open hands, ready to receive public benefits. Um, and that was, you know, Donald Trump’s very first deals in Manhattan were made possible by by the public wheel by redistributing public dollars tax dollars to this brash young developer on Dwayne paid attention to that sort of thing way. You know, that’s the classic, uh, investigative journalism motto of Follow the money right from, you know, from Watergate. But, um, hey, followed the money. He wanted to know, Who is this guy who’s getting all this public money? And how is this guy getting all this public money? Um, what I learned in going to the Briscoe Center and being able to look through your fantastic collection of waned papers is that Wayne’s career trace the history of New York City in the end of the century or in the turn of the century. Obviously, I knew what years he worked at the voice, and I I read him all the weeks since I’ve been here. Um, but I think we just you know, reporters. I guess this is one way when we are different than historians is that we’re We’re terribly focused on each week on the present, on whatever our next deadline is. And so I think a lot of us always read Wayne Barrett reporting as all right. So what do we get this week or what do we get this month or okay, refuse? He’s writing a new book. That’s the story today, Onda. We don’t do the pull back and look at the full, the full arc of something. But in putting without compromise together and traveling to the Briscoe Center to do this digging in his papers, I kind of thought it was my you know, it was part of my job. Is the editor to figure out what a what a narrative is? What is the narrative of winning back to work? Um, beyond the relentless present of each week. And so, in spending all these days, digging through the papers and your beautiful facility, I realized that what I was looking at was the story of post fiscal crisis New York City, Um, and and how we got to the point we’re at today. So in the last four years, many people in the United States have asked themselves How did we get here? Um, this isn’t the country I recognize. How How do we have a presidency that operates this way? Um, touting all all conventions, um, heading all sorts of norms of behavior. Um, particularly really, among the emoluments clause things, right. The idea of using the office for private financial gain. Um, and you know, the answer to that question is in your archives. The answer to that question is in in Wayne Barrett’s earliest reporting on Donald Trump, Um, he was a creation of the choices that New York City and state very much encouraged by the federal government made after our fiscal crisis in the seventies, we decided that we needed to subsidize um, we needed to subsidize wealth. We needed to do some things to make Manhattan glittery and exciting and bring the right kind of people back into the center city. And we chose to do that by giving tremendous buckets full of money, uh, to a really well connected developer And that developer was Donald Trump. And Wayne noticed those things because he was much more, um, you drew to his attention. Much more the transfer of money and the transfer of political favors than the size of the limousine or the stylist suits and friend. Maybe you could tell that story about, uh, you know, Wayne went toe went to Trump’s apartment at one point.
[0:31:35 Fran Barrett] Yeah, there was, uh there was a time when his, uh, personal life was so highly, uh, you know, kind of shown in in public media. And they trump thought that he could win Wayne over. And so he invited Wayne into this. His new apartment. Uh, I think it was Marla Maples was their wife. Then I don’t remember which one, but, um, what happened is that they invited Wayne to the apartment, and the first part of the meeting was her showing him around the apartment. And Donald actually thought that this would be of interest to Wayne, right? I can tell you because when we bought our house, I said to Wayne, you know, he wanted nothing to do with it, right? So finally I had shown him in the end two or three possible houses that we might move to right. And the day we were leaving our apartment, um, he went out and said that he would go ahead and had some things in the car. Then he came back upstairs to me and said, And which house was it Because he had no idea zero idea where he was going or what was gonna happen next. But anyway, so this was not a topic that would interest him being dragged around this beautifully, totally restored in those days White on White Department. And, um, So after he comes back, he talks to Donald and he’s talking about, like, everything Donald had said. And I just said to him, What what? What was the apartment like? The whole thing was about the apartment. What was the apartment like, Right. And he said, Oh, you know, Fran, it was big. That was all. He had nothing. This’ll Woman probably spent a million dollars decorating this apartment, and his his take on it was well, all the all the that struck him was that it was big, you know, And you know, when he was doing the research on Donald in the early days, Uh, Donald actually managed to get a phone call into Wayne is Wayne was sitting in the conference room researching, uh, some documents at a law firm or something. And the phone rang in the in the conference room and he picked up the phone. No one else there. So he picked it up, and it was Donald. And Donald said that he understood that Wayne was interested in him, and he’d like to talkto Wayne two. But one thing was that, uh, he understood also that Wayne and I lived in Brownsville community. We love to be a very poor community. And, um, he thought that he said to Wayne Well, you know, I have a lot of apartments. I could get you an apartment in a good neighborhood, you know? And, uh, that was, of course, the last thing in the world that Wayne would, uh, you know, would do would be to take, you know, the favor, oven apartment. So, uh, so Donald Donald Miss Read him early up, but I think he got the message eventually. So [0:34:50 Don Carleton] Fran is you know, the main purpose of our podcast is to bring attention to the centers valuable resource is that are available for research and teaching. Now those resources, including extensive archive of papers and other materials documenting the history of the American news media are holdings include the papers of broadcast journalists such as Walter Cronkite and Morley Safer, and newspaper reporters such as Jack Newfield. So Friend, I wanted to ask you, Could you tell us a little bit here about Wayne’s relationship with Jack Newfield, whose papers were also here in the center?
[0:35:31 Fran Barrett] Um, yeah, Eileen actually mentioned Jack as a as a mentor. I mean, I think that’s that’s exactly right. Wayne was a huge fan of Jack’s when we were living in Brownsville. Wayne was putting out a community newspaper there with a lot of community people that he called the people’s voice. And, uh, Jack saw that paper, and they were doing investigative work at a very grassroots level. They would publish in the people’s voice. Wayne would, uh, be working with a cadre of folks from Brownsville. They would publish the picture of a local drug dealer and where you know what corner he worked on so that people in the community could no tow avoid, you know, that particular setting. And that attracted Jack, who was at that time and established journalist at the Village Voice. And Jack began to ask Wayne, You know, to come in to voice, to write, you know, to take assignments and things like that, and the relationship just grew from there. I mean, they were very, very different in terms of their sort of reporting and writing style. In fact, it was Jack who first suggested to Wayne that he quote, take a look at, uh, Donald Trump. I think what makes reference to that in one of his books? But they were. They were friends. They collaborated on any number of things every single week at the voice, both columns and longer stories. They collaborated on picking stories, and they also, uh, you know, they wrote city for sale together, which was, you know, a kind of first kind of collection of this notion that politics buys up or can my up you know, people and bring them into the mix for the purpose of getting rich. So Jack was a very close friend, and Janie and I became friends, and the two families were, you know, very often together socializing, etcetera. So Jack was was a good ally and a good friend to Wayne.
[0:37:56 Don Carleton] So is there anything else that either one of you would like to say? You know, in this on this podcast about about Wayne Barrett newspapers?
[0:38:06 Eileen Markey] I guess I would. I’m always afraid I ramble when I speak. And I always mean to put down index cards before I do one of these interviews. Um, but I think just to praise what the Briscoe Center has the quality of your collection, the quality of your, uh, you know, maintenance and the way it’s presented in the way it’s made accessible for people that really what you have in the Wayne Barrett papers at the birth go center is the story of how we got here as a country. It’s a story that starts in New York City. I’ll be provincial enough of New Yorker to say that, Um, but in looking into this history of the sort of things that Wayne wrote about from the 19 seventies fiscal crisis forward, we see the roots of where the country got to today. This tremendous discrepancy between wealth and poverty, this tremendous and and really shameless is really the only word that I can think of shameless political culture of favor on bond, you know, benefit for the few. Um, it’s, you know, your urine American historian. You know that that’s actually out of step with some other currents throughout the course of us history, but that we’re at this point of really a nakedly mendacious politics. Um, and that hasn’t always been the case. But we can see in the boxes that you have of the Wayne Barrett papers the roots of how we got to this part, uh, to this point in American history where we have access to the presidency for sale, where we have absolutely no mhm, no guilt, no shame in trying to turn a turn a profit off of public position. And and that’s all written down, um, in the records of the UDC of the Urban Development Corporation, which you have in, you know, box 36 or something. Um, when I was when I was at Briscoe last fall, sifting through those boxes, E came across those boxes on Wayne’s investigation into the Urban Development Corp. Which is, um, a seventies era of public public benefit. Um, you know, something was supposed to spur development in the city. And you just see all of these relationships intersecting through it. Um, from Roy Cohn to Donald Trump to, you know, more respectable names in New York politics. And then these are people who have really national sway. Right? Um, that that connect in the hole. Ah, whole changed orientation with what we think is the purpose of government. Um, and I did a lot of thinking when I was sitting through those boxes putting my hands and all these boxes, touching all these old papers. Um, looking at all these little scribbles on them, um, and thinking about what’s left behind by this kind of work. What’s left behind by, you know, the the life’s work of a good person. Onda what remains, you know, any, any anyone that any of us lose whether they’re professional friends or really dear close personal friends, uh, or family, you know, you carry them around with you and you also always kind of look for Look for lingering evidence of that person on dso in those boxes. I was very much looking for evidence of a person I greatly admired and really cared a great deal about who have been really kind to me. Um, and I was able to find that because we’ve preserved this actual history. Um, and now it’s open for other people to dig and for other people to interpret and try to understand, Uh, this segment of American history, what’s what’s clear to me And looking through Waned papers and which I write about in the essay in the book, um is that Wayne was motivated by this This belief, in fact, as belief in the power of facts, that seems like almost quaint. Um ah, belief that if we know enough, we will be able to make better choices. And so he made himself a soldier for figuring those facts out. He made himself a detective with the people. He liked to say, uh, to collect those facts so that people could make their choices. Um, and we have access to them. Um, and he was motivated by this, you know, for a variety of reasons. One is a really fantastic anchor, which I think is a perfectly reasonable reaction to injustice. Um, he was also, you know, even underneath that anger, though, there has to be annoyed idealism and a kind of sweetness that believes that people deserve better. Right, that you’ve You can’t be angry unless you’re actually a little bit hopeful. Um, you don’t go dig up fax unless you actually have some optimism to believe that that they’ll convince that they’ll change that they’ll that they’ll lead to a greater imposition of justice. Um, so when I think about these boxes and boxes and this, you know what 30 page finding aid you had on the way, their papers? To me, that’s a testament to optimism. That’s a testament to the beliefs that we deserve. Good government. Um, that that we deserved to be well served by the people elected to lead us. Um, and to really what has to be at root, a joyful belief that if you find something out, it could help that it could make better. Um, So Wayne was not dour. Wayne was not a downcast kind of guy. He had a great old time hunting up the crooks and writing about them every week. And and he shared that that joy and that sort of esprit de corps with all of all of us whom he trained and I think, really with legions of readers. And so I’m really happy that that and that that history is preserved now for other students of journalism who go to the center and for other historians to go to the center. You’ll learn some dark things from a, um from a guy who had a really bright belief in what we deserve it in the power of facts and democracy.
[0:44:14 Don Carleton] Well, that that Z was beautifully and well, well stated. And I don’t think you ramble it all.
[0:44:23 Fran Barrett] By the way, one of the attractions about Briscoe, for me, was the fact that it waas becoming a center for journalism’s. You know, journalists across the board, all types and that other great journalists had their work at Briscoe. And that meant to me that a person looking for, uh, you know, researching a particular you know, issue or person or or a bit of history could look in a couple of different takes in terms off. You know how that you know how that how that particular event laying it out at, you know, print media, how it played out in the broadcast media, for example? So I think this notion that Briscoe has of building a center for the repository of great journalist. I think that’s an honorable and important, uh, kind of opportunity for the rest of the country and for everyone who cares to try to figure out what happened in any particular given situation. And so for me, I just wanted to add that everything Eileen said is absolutely true. And for me, there was just this other piece of, you know, I was sitting in Albany the night that you called me, uh, seeing whether or not we were gonna have this arrangement. And the thing that I think stuck in my head was that you were, in fact, creating at Briscoe, a premier center for journalism period and a ZMA Muchas Wayne Wayne’s particular work was important as much as he loved the truth. And he loved writing. He loved journalism, and there’s something about what you’re doing there that I thought he would really welcome.
[0:46:28 Don Carleton] So thank you for that. Friends. That really means a lot to may, uh, it really does. Thank you for saying that. And again, as I’ve told you before and I’ll say it forever, we are greatly honored that you chose us, Thio, you know, to preserve his work and to make it available on I thank you for that with all my heart. The Doc Briscoe Center preserves the raw materials of the past reporters, notebooks, photographs, letters and diaries, organizational records and much more. Today’s episode was made possible by the Wayne Barrett Papers. Bears collection is extensive. It measures nearly 300 linear feet in size, and it consists mainly of correspondence, court records, research notes and article drafts. The centers Other collections related to New York print journalism include the clipping morgues of the New York Herald Tribune and The New York Journal American. The papers of journalist Jack Newfield, who worked at the Village Voice with Barrett, those of Paul Colford, who worked for the New York Daily News and The Associated Press, and those of legendary columnists Walter Winchell and Liz Smith. These collections air among thousands housed at the center. People across America have entrusted this evidence to us, and it’s used by people from across America. In addition to inspiring their work, it inspires our own books, documentaries, exhibits a digital humanities projects by collecting, preserving and making available. These materials. We helped keep the debates and arguments about who we Americans are rooted in evidence, and we keep the American rhapsody going