Vox Populi: The O'Shaughnessy Files

By William O’Shaughnessy | Go to book overview

JACK NEWFIELD EULOGIZED
BY MARIO M. CUOMO

I’m one of Jack’s older friends who strived to stay on his good side because I expected to receive rather than give his eulogy.

Staying on Jack’s good side was prudent for politicians, too; it might not provide immunity, but it might offer a little clemency.

And I’m sorry for all of us because we lost one of our era’s most courageous and compelling journalists, a champion of justice when we needed one most.

Since their first tentative steps into politics, the Cuomos have admired and respected the Newfields. After forty years and thousands of conversations about politics, sports, and mutual friends, I came to know Jack about as well as you can know a person.

And in recent years, when he was preparing his memoir, we even talked a little about religion.

Jack was intrigued by C. S. Lewis’s famous Screwtape Letters, a description of the subtleties of the devil’s mind and how evil can overcome you in simple and familiar ways. Lewis writes, “What Hell wants is a man to finish his life having to say, ‘I now see that I spent most of my life not doing either what was right or what I enjoyed.’ ”

Well, Jack has finished his life, and the devil must be terribly disappointed. For the many decades I knew Jack, he did the right thing and enjoyed it immensely.

The Greeks believed the gods’ most valuable gift is the gift of passion, and Jack’s life bubbled over with it!

Perhaps it was most evident in his profound love for his soulmate, his wife and partner, the beautiful, bright, heroically supportive Janie, and their two jewels, Rebecca and Joey.

His passion infused his life as an investigative reporter, author, commentator, and political analyst. And it forged an enduring bond with his friends and colleagues.

His passion intensified his loves and hates. His love of the city, his country, baseball, music, and his idols, Jacob Riis, Jackie Robinson, and Robert Kennedy.

And his hate of racism, economic injustice, the wars in Vietnam and Iraq, the death penalty, corrupt politicians, and fickle friends.

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