Richard Reeves
Richard Reeves

About Richard Reeves

Richard Reeves, Senior Lecturer at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, is an author and syndicated columnist whose column has appeared in more than 100 newspapers since 1979. A new column also appears on Yahoo! News each Friday. He has received dozens of awards for his work in print, television and film. Reeves has published more than twenty books, translated into more than a dozen languages including Chinese and Thai.

Educated as a mechanical engineer, Richard Reeves began his career in journalism at the age of 23, founding the Phillipsburg Free Press in Phillipsburg, N.J. He has been a correspondent for the Newark Evening News and the New York Herald Tribune and was the Chief Political Correspondent of The New York Times. He has also written for numerous other publications, becoming National Editor and Columnist for Esquire and New York Magazine along the way. Named a "literary lion" by the New York Public Library, Reeves has won a number of print journalism awards and has been a Pulitzer Prize finalist and juror.

In 1975, Reeves published his first book, A Ford, not a Lincoln. His President Kennedy: Profile of Power is now considered the authoritative work on the 35th president, has won several national awards and was named the Best Non-Fiction Book of 1993 by Time and Book of the Year by Washington Monthly.

Reeves has also worked extensively on television and in film. He was Chief Correspondent on "Frontline". He has made six television films and won all of television's major documentary awards: the Emmy for "Lights, Camera . . . Politics!" for ABC News; the Columbia-DuPont Award for "Struggle for Birmingham" for PBS; and the George Foster Peabody Award for "Red Star over Khyber" for PBS. He has also appeared in two feature films, "Dave" and "Seabiscuit".

In 1998, he won the Carey McWilliams Award of the American Political Science Association for distinguished contributions to the understanding of American politics. He was the Goldman Lecturer on American Civilization and Government at the Library of Congress that year; the lectures were published by Harvard University Press under the title What the People Know: Freedom and the Press.

In 2007, W.W. Norton published his biography - and re-creation of the experiments - of Ernest Rutherford, the Nobel prizewinning physicist, who was born on the frontier of New Zealand in 1871 and went on to become the greatest experimental scientist of his time, discovering the unimagined subatomic world we now know and then splitting the atom he first envisioned. In 2010, he published two books: "Daring Young Men" the story of the Berlin Airlift, published by Simon and Schuster, which became a New York Times bestseller and was named Best Book of the Year by the Christian Science Monitor and best history book of the year by the Book-of-the-Month club. "Portrait of Camelot: A thousand days in the Kennedy White House" was published by Abrams book at the end of the year. He is currently working on a book on the internment of Japanese and Japanese-Americans by the United States government during World War II.



  • Chief Correspondent, Frontline, PBS, 1981-1984.
  • Panelist, We Interrupt This Week, PBS, 1978
  • National Editor and Columnist, Esquire, 1976-1980.
  • National Editor and Columnist, New York Magazine, 1971-1976.
  • Chief Political Correspondent, The New York Times, 1966-1971.
  • Correspondent, The New York Herald Tribune, 1965-66.
  • Correspondent, The Newark Evening News, 1963-65.
  • Editor, Phillipsburg (N.J.) Free Press, 1961-63.
  • Engineer, Ingersoll-Rand Co., 1960-61.



  • President Nixon: Alone in the White House, Simon and Schuster, 2001
  • What The People Know: Freedom and the Press, Harvard University, 1998
  • Do the Media Govern?, Sage, 1997 (with Shanto Iyengar)
  • Family Travels: Around the World in 30 Days, Andrews and McMeel, 1997
  • Character Above All, Vol. 4, Simon and Schuster Audio, 1996
  • Running in Place, Andrews and McMeel, 1996
  • President Kennedy: Profile of Power, Simon and Schuster, 1993
  • The Reagan Detour, Simon and Schuster, 1984
  • Passage to Peshawar, Simon and Schuster, 1983
  • American Journey; Travelling with Tocqueville, Simon and Schuster, 1982
  • Jet Lag, Andrews and McMeel, 1981
  • Convention, Harcourt Brace, 1977
  • Old Faces of 1976, Harper and Row, 1976
  • A Ford, not a Lincoln, Harcourt Brace, 1975
  • Hundreds of magazine articles on public affairs for most major American magazines, including particularly New York Magazine, The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine.



  • "Plowing Up a Storm", PBS, 1986
  • "Red Star Over Afghanistan", PBS, 1984
  • "Struggle for Birmingham", PBS, 1984
  • "American Journey", PBS, 1983
  • Lights, Camera . . . Politics", ABC, 1980
  • "TV on Trial", PBS, 1978



  • Carey McWilliams Award of the American Political Science Association, 1998
  • Goldman Lecturer, Library of Congress, 1997
  • PEN Non-Fiction Book of the Year, 1993
  • Washington Monthly Book of the Year, 1993
  • Christophers Book of the Year, 1983
  • Columbia-Peabody Award, 1984
  • George Foster Peabody Award, 1984
  • Christopher Award, 1982
  • National Emmy, 1980
  • Silver Gavel, American Bar Association, 1978
  • Literary Lion, New York Public Library
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, National Society of Newspaper Columnists
  • Honorary Degrees: Stevens Institute of Technology; Drew University; St. Joseph's College



  • Visiting Professor of Journalism, Annenberg School for Communication at USC
  • Regents Professor of Political Science, UCLA 1992-94
  • Political Writing, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, 1974-1976
  • Hunter College, Government, 1970-1972



  • ME, Stevens Institute of Technology,1960


TV/Film Appearances

  • Seabiscuit, as Radio Reporter Joe, 2003
  • Dave, as Himself, 1993




Catherine O'Neill, founder of the Women's Refugee Commission and former director of the American office of the United Nations, died on December 26, 2012 in Los Angeles after a long illness. Her husband, Richard Reeves, and other family members were with her at the end. She was 70 years old and had a long career in foreign affairs and humanitarian efforts after a career in Democratic politics in California — she came close to becoming the first woman member of the California State Senate in 1972 and was the finance manager of Governor Jerry Brown's 1976 campaign. The Reeves-O'Neills had five children and four grandchildren. Both New Yorkers, they lived in many places associated with each other's work, including Paris, where Catherine was public affairs director of The International Herald Tribune, and Pakistan, where she did refugee work and he wrote a book on that country.

Catherine O'Neill — New York Times Obituary

A Special Tribute to Catherine O'Neill

Catherine O'Neill's vision and passion led to the founding of the Women's Refugee Commission in 1989. Millions of refugee women and children around the world have Catherine to thank for improvements in programming and policy that have come about due to the work of the organization she founded.

Richard Reeves stopped writing his syndicated column at the end of 2014 after 35 years in more than 160 newspapers and websites.

Latest Column

American Hero; American Story

LOS ANGELES — In the final months of any presidency, the men and women serving in the administration are ready to leave and move on with their lives. That was true of Harold Tyler, a New York lawyer who was the deputy attorney general for civil rights as the Eisenhower administration was winding down in 1960. But he had to find his own replacement, not an easy job because few lawyers were eager to leave their practices and lives to serve a few months in Washington.

Column Archive

A Revisionist Take On President Obama

LOS ANGELES — "Democrats Worry Obama Is Helping Their Rivals" was the headline over an article last Friday in the Los Angeles Times. I think that was the one thousandth piece I have read in the last couple of months saying that the president has low approval ratings and will hurt Democratic candidates in November's Senate and House elections.

Cuba: Let's Get Over It

LOS ANGELES — "Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest of these are, 'It might have been.'" So said John Greenleaf Whittier more than a hundred years ago.

Say It Ain't So, Joe!

LOS ANGELES — I could be mad at Vice President Joe Biden, who has been here for two days and tied up traffic for miles at a time. But it's hard. He's just too nice a guy, even if he talks too much — and worse, these days, tells the truth.

Learning From History

It is something of a cliche to quote George Santayana one more time, saying, "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." But for folks of my age, ignorant repetition has been a constant in our lives. And, of course, it is happening again right now.

Labor Day — You Remember 'Labor,' Don't You?

WASHINGTON — I woke up last Thursday morning to learn that my FedEx man does not work for FedEx. Voices on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" informed me that although FedEx controls just about every minute of its drivers' days, the corporation regards them as "independent contractors." Thus, no benefits — they even have to pay for their own uniforms — and the workers can be kicked out anytime FedEx feels like it.

Is Obama Too Thoughtful To Be President?

LOS ANGELES — Welcome to Presidency 101. What would you do if you were "the most powerful person in the world" and:

None Dare Call It Treason

WASHINGTON — Hooray! Hooray! The wicked Congress has gone home. So to speak, since most of the members actually live right here in the capital city and environs.

The Rising Tide: Will All Boats Be Lifted?

LOS ANGELES — We have lived for decades, even centuries, with the economic faith that a rising tide lifts all boats. But what if it doesn't? What happens then, economically and politically?

The Children Of The Border

LOS ANGELES — Last Monday, a chartered flight took 38 mothers and children, who had been held in a detention center in Artesia, New Mexico, to San Pedro Sula in Honduras. That's a tough town of drug dealers, violence and children soldiers, sometimes called "The Murder Capital of the World."

Catching Up With Big Data

LOS ANGELES — This is a column about "Big Data" and a new way to predict the results of presidential elections for the next 20 years.

Will The New York Times Take Us To War Again?

CHICAGO — I have never been much of a fan of the journalistic self-examination practiced by folks identified as "ombudsman" or "public editor." I changed my mind last Sunday, and I'll get to that in a minute.

American Is Being More Polarized — Again

LOS ANGELES — The most fascinating of the many theories about the fall of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a Republican primary earlier this month has to do with the redistricting after the 2010 Census. He was supposed to be helped by having very politically conservative New Kent County added to the 7th Congressional District in place of more liberal precincts in the Richmond area. But the voters of New Kent, a 75 percent Republican stronghold, voted against Cantor by almost 2-to-1.

What Can We Do In Iraq? Nothing!

LOS ANGELES — Taking a couple of shots at President Obama over the latest round of war in Iraq, House Speaker John Boehner said last week: "This has been building for weeks."

Welcome Home, Sergeant

LOS ANGELES — If today's Republican Party had been around during the Civil War, it would have tried to stop its own president, a fellow named Lincoln, from appointing Gen. Ulysses S. Grant commander of the Union Army because he drank on duty — quite a lot, apparently. And if the president was a Democrat, say Thomas Jefferson, the Republicans would be calling for hearings to find out the "real" reason he was sending Lewis and Clark into the wilderness to learn what was out there between the Mississippi and the Pacific.

Preserve Us From Old Fools On Horseback

LOS ANGELES — "This is the beginning of taking America back," said Shawna Cox, who had come from Kanab, Utah, one of hundreds of "patriots" supporting Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who has refused to pay a million dollars in grazing fees to the Federal Bureau of Land Management, which oversees 85 percent of the dusty land of that state. That makes him a hero to folks like Cox, who have traveled hundreds and thousands of miles, toting their guns, to drive off U.S. Park Rangers trying to drive his cattle off federal land.

Why We Need Local Reporting

LOS ANGELES — Last Thursday was an interesting news day around here — and one that highlighted the importance of local reporting as newspapers fade away across the country.

Voting Laws: The Last Stand Of The Old And The White

NEW YORK — When the Constitution of the first modern democracy, the United States of America, was written, only about 10 percent of the population of the 13 states was granted the right to vote: white men who owned property.

War As A Spectator Sport

LOS ANGELES — Sad to say, the most telling commentary on world affairs these days seems to come from comedians. The latest is Jimmy Fallon, the new "Tonight Show" host, who responded to Secretary of State John Kerry's reaction to the news that Russian soldiers were moving into Crimea:

Deep In The Dark Heart Of Texas

DALLAS — Greg Abbott, a former judge and three-term attorney general of the great state of Texas, is expected to be the state's next governor. His official biography puts him on the side of God, the American way and children of all ages:

Presidents Are People, Too

DALLAS — A few months ago, I agreed to talk at a program at the Sixth Floor Museum here, the building once called the Texas School Book Depository, the building from which Lee Harvey Oswald waited, on the sixth floor, with a rifle for the motorcade that carried President John F. Kennedy to Dealey Plaza on Nov. 22, 1963.

One Nation, Indivisible

LOS ANGELES — Immigration is something like the weather. Everyone talks about it, but not many people really want to do anything about it.

A Little Giant Retires

LOS ANGELES — I took my J448 students — that's "Government and Public Affairs Reporting" at the Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism at the University of Southern California — to a local Democratic club last Sunday. I wanted them to see and meet the new mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, and one of the most effective elected officials of his generation, Congressman Henry Waxman.

Are We A Nation Of Cheaters And Liars?

LOS ANGELES — I was surprised to see two long stories in last Thursday's New York Times about the same subject: cheating.

Loving New Jersey

LOS ANGELES — I grew up in Jersey — Jersey City. I don't remember being west of the Delaware River until I was in college. I thought the United States was an Italian country governed by the Irish.

The Tea Party: Remember George Wallace

LOS ANGELES — It is refreshing for me to find myself in agreement with "mainstream" Republicans, beginning with House Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Paul Ryan. I think.

Happy New Year, Mr. President

LOS ANGELES — There was a cigarette commercial in the early 1960s that went, "I'm smoking more and enjoying it less." The president at the time, John F. Kennedy, going through a rough patch, was asked how he felt about one negative story after another in the nation's press. "Well," he said, "I'm reading more and enjoying it less."

The Drone Next Door

LOS ANGELES — The news of the day Friday included a dispatch from Saudi Arabia reporting that 11 people were killed by drone-fired missiles in a remote corner of Yemen. The story added that five days before, three men were killed in a drone attack in another part of the country.

Should We Get Older? Why?

The International Herald Tribune is gone after more than 125 years as the American paper in France and then all over the world. Two months ago, it was renamed The International New York Times. That's a bit sad for someone like me who began at the New York Herald Tribune before it folded in 1966. Luckily, I was picked up by The Times, so my loyalties are split.

The Legend Will Never Die

NEW YORK — Twenty-five years ago, I asked Charles Bartlett, a syndicated columnist, about his old and close friend John F. Kennedy. I have seen his answer published and broadcast dozens of times these past weeks as the nation marks the anniversary of the assassination of our 35th president.