Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Alexander Cockburn, 71, Author and Unapologetic Leftist

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Alexander Cockburn, 71, Author and Unapologetic Leftist

Article excerpt

Mr. Cockburn took pleasure in condemning what he saw as the outrages of the right and what he often considered the tepidness and timidity of the American liberal establishment.

Alexander Cockburn, the acerbic leftist journalist and author who though born in Scotland thrived in the political and cultural battlegrounds of the United States, has died in Bad Salzhausen, Germany, where he had been receiving medical treatment, his family said. He was 71.

The cause was cancer, said Jeffrey St. Clair, a friend and colleague who announced Mr. Cockburn's death Saturday on CounterPunch, the Web site that the two men edited. Mr. Cockburn kept his illness a secret, Mr. St. Clair added, and continued writing until the end of his life.

"His body was deteriorating, but his prose remained as sharp, lucid and deadly as ever," Mr. St. Clair wrote on the site.

Mr. Cockburn had, at various times, regular columns in ideologically disparate publications like The Nation and The Wall Street Journal, and he became known as an unapologetic leftist, condemning what he saw as the outrages of the right but also castigating the American liberal establishment when he thought it was being timid.

Wayne Barrett, who worked with Mr. Cockburn at The Village Voice in the 1980s, recalled him as "a punishing writer."

"He had a remarkable mind and he could write so quickly," Mr. Barrett said.

At The Voice, Mr. Cockburn wrote, with James Ridgeway, a political column and another, called Press Clips, in which he critiqued the news media, and often mocked what he saw as the ethical failings of journalists.

But Mr. Cockburn, an often-fierce critic in the columns of Israeli policies in the Middle East, was dismissed from The Voice in 1984 after The Boston Phoenix reported that he had accepted a $10,000 grant from a group that its critics called pro-Arab; David Schneiderman, The Voice editor at the time, suggested that the grant created a conflict of interest.

Mr. Cockburn said he had taken the money for a book project and had planned to return it.

That book was never written, but after leaving The Voice, he wrote several others, including "Corruptions of Empire," a collection of essays published in 1988; "The Golden Age Is in Us: Journeys and Encounters, 1987-1994," published in 1996; and "The Fate of the Forest: Developers, Destroyers and Defenders of the Amazon," written with Susanna Hecht, from 1990. …

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