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David Broder

Posted Wednesday, March 9, 2011, at 1:31 PM

The news today about the death of Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post political reporter David Broder had me searching through my business card file.

I have one of Broder's business cards, and I got it from Broder himself ... in Shelbyville, at what is now the Parkway Cafe.

It was in the 1990s -- either 1993 or early in 1994. U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, who now represents Nashville and the Fifth District in Congress, was at the time representing the Fourth District, including his native Shelbyville. Cooper had a health care plan which was positioned as a moderate, more business-friendly alternative to then-First Lady Hillary Clinton's plan.

Broder, who was covering the issue, followed Cooper on a day of activities in the district, starting with Cooper's appearance before the Shelbyville Breakfast Rotary Club. That's where I met him -- Richard's Restaurant. I'd heard his name for years and seen him as a guest commentator on the occasional TV show, and now here I was shaking his hand. It was intimidating -- what does a reporter from the Shelbyville Times-Gazette say to one of the titans of the Washington Post? We didn't really exchange anything more than pleasantries, but I did exchange cards with him, and I still have the card as a memento.

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U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander just released a statement on Broder's passing:

"No reporter in recent times was a better reporter than David Broder. He would show up in the most unexpected places. Sometimes he was the only reporter present. He never played favorites. He would be uncomfortable with such praise by an elected official. Public service and journalism are richer for his distinguished, long career."

-- Posted by Jicarney on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 1:43 PM

I've always been a Broder fan. His commentaries impressed me as fair and straightforward compared to those of so many other writers.

-- Posted by David Melson on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 3:05 PM

Fair-handed. What we hope to get when we read a reporter's work. I hope he had many students who will follow his path.

-- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Mar 9, 2011, at 6:01 PM

In Shelbyville, as my brother, Jim Cooper, was holding an event one morning during his campaign for U.S. Senate in 1994, I met and talked with David Broder in the gymnasium of Thomas School. He said, "You know, Jim is earning quite a reputation in Washington without being a showboat." I said, "That's hard to do." He said, "Well, what beats knowing what you're doing?" David Broder will be sorely missed by lots and lots of people, including all of the Coopers.

-- Posted by zzoop on Sat, Mar 12, 2011, at 3:36 PM

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John I. Carney is city editor of the Times-Gazette.
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