Mary Tyler Ivins, better known as Molly, is a best-selling author and widely syndicated (113 papers) political columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. One of the nation's wittiest and best-known political pundits, she was born August 30, 1944 in Monterey, Calif., but grew up in Houston. According to Ivins, politics is great entertainment.
Author of the best-selling book, Molly Ivins Can't Say That Can She?, Ivins is the former co-editor of the liberal monthly Texas Observer and former Rocky Mountain bureau chief for the New York Times. She has also worked for the Houston Chronicle, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the Dallas Times Herald.
Ivins' also contributes to national publications such as Esquire, Atlantic, The Nation, and Harper's. She is a frequent guest on network radio and television shows where her wit and insight are in great demand.
Ivins has a B.A. from Smith College, a master's in journalism from Columbia University and studied for a year at the Institute of Political Science in Paris.
She has been a Pulitzer Prize finalist three times, and has won numerous journalism awards, including a 1991 Headliner's Award for best Texas column. She was named Outstanding Alumna by Columbia University's School of Journalism in 1976,and was a member of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize jury. Molly is also an active member of and contributor to Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union and several journalism reviews.
In 1996, The Denver Press Club honored her with its prestigious Damon Runyon Award for outstanding contributions to journalism. She shared the honor that year with San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen.
Following are some highlights of her acceptance speech at the award banquet in which she gives an overview of the journalism trade (the reporting business is not immune to her wit and criticism, either, as you will see).
Molly Ivins: 1996 Speech Excerpts
I understand from reliable sources ...that in the long distinguished history of the Damon Runyon Award - now extending to three years - the tradition has been established that the recipient of the award begins with a few words of gracious thanks and then proceeds to bitch about the state of journalism.
And that is precisely what I intend to do.
Gracious thanks. How lovely. How marvelous. And even to have your name in the same sentence with Damon Runyon is a goddam honor because he was a funny SOB.
And I am pleased and delighted at the mere thought of being paired with Herb Caen....
Damon Runyon sort of typifies an era when to be a journalist - as we now say in our pompous way (we used to just say reporter) - was not respectable.
And in fact, when I first became a reporter (I was, of course, a child reporter) in the early 1960s, my parents were horrified because it was not respectable.
There was a slight feeling about being a newspaper reporter that you were a bit of an outlaw. You were never going to make money. You were never going to have a big career. You were just going to have fun, do good and learn.
And of course, I know there is management present, so given that, I will not, of course, explain to you my theory of how overpayment has ruined newspaper reporters. We will save that for a more private time.
But the fact is, there is a level of pomposity, not to mention corporate seriousness, now afflicting our business. And I believe it is my duty and your duty to undermine this bullshit.
I am here to speak on behalf of irreverence, improper behavior and the occasional imbibing of far too much liquor. I am here to speak on behalf of mischief, upset and roiling the waters.
I knew there was a problem the first time a younger reporter came up to me and said, "Molly, I have been offered such and such an assignment. Do you think this would be a shrewd career move?"
I said - in my ancient wisdom- the are only three questions to ask:
Can you do good, can you have fun, and can you learn?
I, for one, hope to have as the epitaph on my tombstone: "She never made a shrewd career move."
I am telling you now that there are many forces out there trying to snuff out the outlaw impulse in newspapers.
There are many people who tell us we have serious responsibilities. We answer to the community. We have Professional Obligations. It gets heavier and heavier, and heavier.
And I just want to urge you to all resist this nonsense. As long as we are raising hell and having fun, we will be doing our job.