Adam Clymer

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Adam Clymer
Born(1937-04-27)April 27, 1937
New York City, U.S.
DiedSeptember 10, 2018(2018-09-10) (aged 81)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
EducationHarvard College
University of Cape Town
Years active1950s–2003
Ann Fessenden
(m. 1961; died 2013)
RelativesEleanor Clymer (mother)

Adam Clymer (April 27, 1937 – September 10, 2018[1]) was an American journalist. He was a prolific political correspondent for The New York Times.


Clymer worked for the New York Daily News for a short period.[2] Clymer worked for The New York Times from 1977 until July 2003, and served as its national political correspondent for the 1980 presidential election, and polling editor from 1983 to 1990.[3] As polling editor, Clymer collaborated with CBS News. He worked as political editor for George H. W. Bush's presidential campaign in 1988, and chief Washington correspondent from 1999 through 2003.[3]

Clymer covered the 2000 presidential campaign for the Times and wrote at least one article that was considered unfavorable by the campaign of George W. Bush. Clymer wrote an analysis of Cheney's tax returns, including his conclusion that he only gave 1% of his $20 million earnings to charity.[4]

Clymer may be best known for an incident on September 4, 2000, when Bush and running mate Dick Cheney appeared at a campaign event in Naperville, Illinois. While on stage before the event, Bush said to Cheney, "There's Adam Clymer, major-league asshole from the New York Times." Cheney responded, "Oh yeah, he is, big time." The remarks were picked up by a live microphone, causing a minor campaign controversy. Bush subsequently remarked, "I regret that a private comment I made to the vice presidential candidate made it through the public airways. I regret everybody heard what I said," but declined to retract the comment itself.[5][6]

While he never apologized for the comment itself, Bush made an attempt to smooth it over, making light of it at the next Washington Press Club Foundation Dinner by referring to Adam Clymer as a "major-league"[7] For his part, Clymer noted that Bush sent him a nice letter of condolences when his mother died in 2001.[8]

In 1981, Clymer co-authored Reagan: The Man, the President with fellow New York Times journalists Hedrick Smith, Leonard Silk, Robert Lindsey, and Richard Burt. In 1999, he wrote Edward M. Kennedy: A Biography.

In 2004, Clymer became a visiting scholar at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, where he served as Political Director for the National Annenberg Election Survey.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Born to a Unitarian family, the son of children's book author Eleanor Clymer (née Lowenton) and Kinsey Clymer, Clymer attended The Walden School in Manhattan and then Harvard College, receiving an A.B. in 1958. Clymer's journalism career began when he was in high school; he wrote for the school newspaper and collected sports scores for The New York Times. He did post-graduate work at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. In 1960, he joined The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, a job which he followed up with work at The Baltimore Sun and the New York Daily News.

Adam Clymer was married to Ann Clymer (née Ann Wood Fessenden) from 1961 until her death on February 10, 2013. They had one daughter, Jane Emily Clymer, who was killed at the age of 18 by a drunken driver in September 1985. The Clymers established a memorial scholarship at the University of Vermont in her name.[9] As of 2013, the scholarship had aided fifty women in attending the university.[2]

Clymer died from pancreatic cancer on September 10, 2018, in Washington, D.C., at the age of 81.[2][10]



  • Smith, Hedrick; Clymer, Adam; et al. (1981). Reagan the Man, the President. Pergamon Pr. ISBN 0-08-027916-3.
  • Clymer, Adam (1986). "The New York Times" Year in Review 1987. Three Rivers Press. ISBN 0-8129-1632-8.
  • Clymer, Adam (2000). Edward M. Kennedy: A Biography. Perennial (HarperCollins). ISBN 0-06-095787-5.
  • Clymer, Adam (2003). Journalism, Security and the Public Interest: Best practices for reporting in unpredictable times. Aspen Institute, Communications and Society Program. ISBN 0-89843-387-8.
  • Clymer, Adam (2008). Drawing the Line at the Big Ditch. University of Kansas Press. ISBN 0-7006-1582-2


  1. ^ Roberts, Sam (September 10, 2018). "Adam Clymer, Veteran Political Reporter and Pollster, Dies at 81". The New York Times.
  2. ^ a b c Smith, Harrison (September 10, 2018). "Adam Clymer, veteran New York Times political reporter and editor, dies at 81". Washington Post. Retrieved March 24, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Ask a Reporter: Adam Clymer". The New York Times. December 3, 2000.
  4. ^ Clymer, Adam (September 10, 2000) "Correspondence/My Media Moment; A Bush-League Aside Vaults An Onlooker Into the Campaign's Glare", The New York Times, The Week in Review, p.3 of 3. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
  5. ^ "Bush's disparaging remark about reporter picked up by microphone". Irish Independent. Associated Press. September 5, 2000. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  6. ^ "Bush makes major league gaffe". The Guardian. September 5, 2000. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  7. ^ Mikkelson, Barbara (April 27, 2004). "Major League Remark". Politics: George W. Bush. Urban Legends Reference Pages. Retrieved July 19, 2006.
  8. ^ a b Bouchard, Sarah (February 17, 2005). "Adam Clymer Reporter waxes nostalgic". The Hill.
  9. ^ "Clymers Settle Lawsuit to Reduce Drunk Driving and Boost UVM Jane Emily Memorial Scholarship" (Press release). University of Vermont. May 21, 1992. Retrieved January 9, 2007.
  10. ^ Roberts, Sam (September 10, 2018). "Adam Clymer, Political Reporter, Editor and Pollster, Dies at 81". The New York Times. Retrieved September 10, 2018.

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