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.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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