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Journalist, Nixon Speechwriter William Safire

William Safire stands newly appointed as special assistant to President-elect Richard Nixon in 1968.
AP
William Safire stands newly appointed as special assistant to President-elect Richard Nixon in 1968.

New York Times columnist and political spitfire William Safire, who died Sept. 27 of pancreatic cancer, left behind an indelible legacy in speechwriting and political reporting.

He began his career as a reporter, did an Army stint, segued into publicity, coined memorable phrases for the Nixon administration and then chronicled the crumbling of that White House as the Times' first conservative political columnist. Later, he won the Pulitzer Prize for a series of columns on the finances of Carter White House official Bert Lance, who later resigned.

Safire was easily as well known among word mavens for his weekly column On Language, which dissected the uses and abuses of English. We remember the quick-witted writer with this archival interview, originally broadcast on Oct. 23, 1992.

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