|Sarah Newcomb McClendon|
July 8, 1910|
Tyler, Texas, United States
|Status||widowed (prior to her death)|
|Died||January 8, 2003(aged 92)|
|Spouse(s)||John Thomas O'Brien (deceased)|
|Children||Sally Newcomb MacDonald|
Sarah Newcomb McClendon (July 8, 1910 – January 8, 2003) was a long-time White House reporter who covered presidential politics for a half-century. McClendon founded her own free-lance news service as a single mother in the post-World War II era, and became known as a model for women in the press and as a vocal advocate of various causes, particularly those of United States military veterans. McClendon was best known, however, for her questions at United States Presidential press conferences, which often ranged from aggressive to brash or blunt.
The youngest of nine children, McClendon was born July 8, 1910 and reared in Tyler, Texas. McClendon's birthplace is listed on the National Register of Historic Places listings in Smith County, is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark and a Tyler Historical Landmark.
After graduation, McClendon worked for the Tyler Courier-Times, the Tyler Morning Telegraph where she covered the New London Schoolhouse explosion and the Beaumont Enterprise. As a reporter for the Beaumont Enterprise, McClendon wrote a series of articles criticizing the Women's Army Auxililiary Corps -- the very branch of the service in which she would soon enlist.
With America's entry into World War II, McClendon volunteered to serve in the United States Army. After learning that she did not have the academic qualifications to join military intelligence, McClendon enlisted in the Women's Army Auxililiary Corps, and reported for duty in September, 1942. McClendon initially served in the WAAC's public relations department, then attended Officer Candidate School, was promoted to Lieutenant and eventually was assigned the Army Surgeon General's office as a public relations officer.,
While in the service, McClendon met and was briefly married to John Thomas O'Brien. O'Brien, a paper salesman, abandoned McClendon before the birth of their daughter and died during World War II., McClendon later described O'Brien as an alcoholic who "had little to recommend him but my own loneliness." The couple's daughter, Sally Newcomb MacDonald, was born in June, 1944.
After insisting her full rights and privileges as a first lieutenant, McClendon was the first Army officer to give birth at a military hospital, Walter Reed Hospital. As a result of the pregnancy, McClendon was honorably discharged from the military, also in June 1944. A single mother, McClendon used her Washington, D.C., press connections to obtain a job as a Washington correspondent, starting work the same month as her daughter's birth.
In June 1944, after McClendon's discharge from the Women's Army Corps, famed newspaperman Bascom N. Timmons hired McClendon as a Washington correspondent for the Philadelphia Daily News. In 1946, when Timmons discharged McClendon to make room for reporters returning from service in World War II, McClendon started her own service, the McClendon News Service, which provided Washington dispatches and columns to member newspapers and personal subscribers. A single mother, McClendon often brought her young daughter to news conferences.
For the next several decades, McClendon attended White House press conferences on behalf of the McClendon News Service, becoming a Washington institution. She became known for her sharp questions.
Writing in The Nation and The Village Voice McClendon was the only prominent reporter to keep alive the Mena drug story, which was later covered by seasoned investigative reporters Roger Morris and Sally Denton.
McClendon was a member of Maj. Gen. Charles Willoughby's Anti-Communist Liaison - Committee of Correspondence, a group which featured a handful of people associated with the CIA or Military Intelligence along with JFK Assassination researchers.
- McClendon, S; My eight presidents, Wyden Books, 1978. ISBN 0-88326-150-2.
- McClendon, S; Minton, J., Mr. President, Mr. President! : my 50 years of covering the White House, General Pub. Group, 1996. ISBN 1-57544-005-9.
- "THC NRHP". Texas Historical Commission. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- "THC RTHL". Texas Historical Commission. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- See McClendon House website, retrieved August 2, 2006
- Sarah McClendon: 1910-2003 Reporter had a need to know, by Carl P. Leubsdorf, The Dallas Morning News, January 9, 2003
- Sarah McClendon, Veteran Washington Reporter, Dies at 92, by Adam Bernstein, The Washington Post, January 8, 2003, retrieved July 31, 2006
- McClendon, Sarah; Minton, Jules (1996). Allerton, Colby, ed. Mr. President, Mr. President!: my 50 years of covering the White House. General Publishing Group. pp. 42–45. ISBN 1-57544-005-9.
- "Larry King Radio Show in 1982". YouTube. C-SPAN.
- McClendon, Sarah; Minton, Jules (1996). Allerton, Colby, ed. Mr. President, Mr. President!: my 50 years of covering the White House. General Publishing Group. p. 11. ISBN 1-57544-005-9.
- "Presidential Crimes of Mena - Sally Denton".
- McClendon, S., Knight, M., Interviews with Sarah McClendon, Washington Press Club Foundation, 1991.
- Transcripts of the 1991 Washington Press Club interviews.
- Sarah McClendon papers at the University of Texas at Tyler.
- USA Today Obituary
- Role Model: Sarah McClendon, by Roberta Oster Sachs, Columbia Journalism Review, May/June 2003 issue, retrieved July 31, 2006
- Sarah McClendon Biography and Papers at the State Historical Society of Missouri.