IF Stone: An Iconic Radical Journalist - by Stephen Lendman
Born Isador Feinstein in 1907, his brother Louis said he changed his name at age 30 because "he didn't want to turn a reader off who might be anti-Semetic, right away, to avoid anti-Semitism in his work." Most people called him Izzy, and when he died in 1989, biographer DD Guttenplan said "he had (so) transformed (himself) from America's premiere radical journalist into a respectable icon of his profession" that all four major television networks announced his passing.
ABC's Peter Jennings called him "a journalist's journalist." The New York Times featured his death on its front page (usually reserved for the rich and powerful) in a Peter Flint obituary titled, "IF Stone, Iconoclast of Journalism, Is Dead at 81." A quintessential muckraker, he described him as "the independent, radical pamphleteer of American journalism hailed by his admirers for his scholarship, wit and lucidity" over a career spanning 67 years.
He quoted Stone saying:
"I tried to bring the instincts of a scholar to the service of journalism; to take nothing for granted; to turn journalism into literature; to provide radical analysis with a conscientious concern for accuracy, and in studying the current scene to do my very best to preserve human values and free institutions." In the spirit of author Finley Peter Dunne (1867 - 1936), he "comfort(ed) the afflicted and afflict(ed) the comfortable," in a way few others matched or kept doing for so long.
In a 1987 interview, he deplored what he called the ascendancy of "right-wing kooks (and) the ugly spirit (of Reagan's not so subtle message that) you should go get yours and run." Late in life he learned classical Greek to be able to read untranslated works and write "The Trials of Socrates" after more than a decade of study. He criticized the accepted Plato view that he died for exhorting his fellow Athenians to be virtuous. According to Stone, he was seen as a security threat at a time Athenian democracy was imperiled.
In Izzy on Izzy (on ifstone.org), he called himself an "anachronism....an independent capitalist, the owner of my own enterprise, subject to neither mortgage or broker, factor or patron....standing alone, without organizational or party backing, beholden to no one but my good readers."
They were many, loyal, and included Ralph Nader who called him "the modern Tom Paine - as independent and incorruptible as they come (as) journalism's Gibraltar and its unwavering conscience."