Sarah McClendon

Our oldest White House correspondent has some critical words for the press–and for government.

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On Sarah McClendon’s first day as a White House correspondent, Bill Clinton was still a twinkle in his mother’s eye. It was 1944, and McClendon–just out of the U.S. Army where she had served as a public information officer with the Women’s Army Corps in World War II–was a rookie reporter assigned to cover Franklin Delano Roosevelt. A thousand miles from her hometown of Tyler, Texas, she knew little about presidential politics and was at first too nervous to ask any questions.

Ten presidents later, McClendon is still covering the White House. Under the banner of her McClendon News Service (which includes two part-time staff members and one intern), she cranks out a weekly syndicated newspaper column, a biweekly newsletter, and a weekly radio commentary that airs on 1,200 stations across the nation. At the age of 85 (86 this July), McClendon is the true dean of the Washington press corps–a decade older than the venerable Helen Thomas of UPI.

Her age and dependence on a wheelchair, or cane, make it difficult for her to pursue stories as vigorously as she once did. But, continuing to fight for “the people’s right to know,” McClendon still doesn’t miss a day in the White House press room.

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We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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