Monitor writers celebrate ‘unique’ moments
From crawling on the carpet with Ronald Reagan to sipping tea with the Che Guevara of Afghanistan, former staffers recount stories as the Monitor transitions to new formats.
As the Monitor moves to new formats in its 100th anniversary year, the newspaper's "Diaspora"of former staffers was invited to contribute defining moments in their careers here. We hope more of that Monitor family – and readers – will add their comments below and keep the conversation going.Skip to next paragraph
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MOMENT FIT FOR A KING
It was a warm, 1967 day on a leafy Atlanta campus. The Monitor’s interview with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was about to begin. But first a slew of advisers urgently sought his attention, with a rat-tat-tat of questions. First someone to his right, then another to his left. One from in front; then one from behind, and he wearily turned to answer.
Seeing the scene made crystal clear how incredibly busy was this key civil rights leader, today’s icon. It all symbolized how he was being pulled this way and that with often conflicting advice. Continue nonviolent protests only; no, become more militant. Redouble the focus on civil rights; no, broaden it to protest the Vietnam War. Do this, do that. Indeed, you had to be there.
– Robert P. Hey
REAGAN ON THE CARPET
When Ronald Reagan kicked off his presidential campaign, he offered interviews to The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and the Monitor. As Western bureau chief, I received the call. The interview was set at a high-rise in Los Angeles. I arrived early and rechecked my equipment: notebook, pens, tape recorder, fresh batteries, back-up electric cord, tapes.
That’s when I discovered my recorder wasn’t working in battery mode – a reporter’s nightmare.
When Reagan walked in, I was so embarrassed. He just laughed. “Let’s find a plug,” he said.
There he was, the future occupant of the Oval Office, on his knees, shuffling furniture. As he climbed behind the couch, I thought, “What if my editors could see us now?” At that moment, Nancy Reagan walked in. I still remember the look on her face.
– Judith Frutig
STOMPING IN THE YARD
In January of 1983, New York Gov. Mario Cuomo faced a crisis: an inmate rebellion with 17 guards taken hostage inside the notorious Sing Sing prison. Attica was on everyone’s mind.
I encountered a media frenzy outside the prison’s stone walls. At one point, I saw two men calling down from a hill in Spanish to inmates inside cellblock B, where the hostages were held. They’d served time in the same cellblock. I asked them questions. In broken English, they tried to answer. Eventually, they gave me the phone number of Akil-Al-Jundi, their probation counselor. Jundi did seven years in Attica himself. He mentally set the scene and spelled out the likely negotiations taking place.