Class of 1958
In a career that goes back more than 50 years, Robert Scheer has been a reporter and editor for newspapers and magazines, a print and online columnist, a best-selling author, and a teacher. He is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Truthdig, an award-winning news website that covers current affairs and politics. His reputation for investigative and advocacy reporting is such that he was described in a Los Angeles Times book review as a “journalist in the gadfly tradition of Lincoln Steffens, I.F. Stone, and Seymour Hersh.” Scheer ran for Congress as an anti-Vietnam War candidate in a 1966 Democratic primary (and lost, but got more than 45 percent of the vote), and he owns a stack of awards, fellowships and honors from universities, social justice groups, business associations and media organizations.
Scheer was born in the Bronx on April 4, 1936, and went to Christopher Columbus High School. He majored in economics at CCNY, studied as a Maxwell fellow at Syracuse University, and was a fellow at the Center for Chinese Studies at the University of California-Berkeley, where he did graduate work in economics. He has been a Poynter Institute fellow at Yale and was a fellow in arms control at Stanford University, a post once held by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. From 1964 to 1969, he was the Vietnam correspondent and managing editor of Ramparts magazine, reporting from Cambodia, North Korea, China, Russia, and the Middle East. After Ramparts folded, he wrote for Playboy, Esquire, Look, Lear’s and Cosmopolitan.
|Interviewing Jimmy Carter for Playboy, 1976.|
Scheer has interviewed every president from Richard Nixon through Bill Clinton. He conducted the 1976 Playboy interview with Jimmy Carter, then running for president, in which the candidate admitted to having “lusted” in his heart. He has profiled such politicians as California governor Jerry Brown and ex-San Francisco mayor Willie Brown and Washington powerhouses Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski.
From 1976 to 1993, Scheer was a national correspondent for The Los Angeles Times, writing on arms control, national politics, the Soviet Union, and the military. In 1993, he started a syndicated column at The Times. It appeared there for 12 years, but in late 2005, after an almost 30-year relationship with the paper, Scheer was let go. The Times cited a need to cut costs. Scheer believes he was fired because of his columns critical of President George W. Bush and his “lies . . . to justify the invasion of Iraq.” Within a few days of Scheer’s dismissal, his column was picked up by The San Francisco Chronicle and, together with Los Angeles entrepreneur Zuade Kaufman, Scheer co-founded Truthdig, where his column is based. In 2012, Truthdig won its fifth Webby Award, this one for Best Political Website. Scheer’s column is distributed nationally by Creative Syndicate in outlets that include the Huffington Post and The Nation.
Scheer co-hosts a weekly political radio program “Left, Right & Center” on KCRW, the National Public Radio affiliate in Santa Monica, Calif. He is clinical professor of communications at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and has taught at Antioch College, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Berkeley, and at his alma mater, City College.
Scheer’s books include “The Five Biggest Lies Bush Told Us About Iraq,” a Los Angeles Times bestseller co-written with his son, Christopher, and Lakshmi Chaudhry (2004); “Playing President: My Close Encounters with Nixon, Carter, Bush I and Clinton – and How They Did Not Prepare Me for George W. Bush” (2006); and “The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street” (2010).
Scheer’s many honors include a Sigma Delta Chi Award by the Society of Professional Journalists in 2012 for his columns on the 2008 collapse of the global economy. The same group honored him in 2010 with its Distinguished Work in New Media Award. The following year, Ithaca College gave him its Izzy Award for outstanding achievement in independent media. He won the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism from Hunter College in 2000 for his columns about nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee. Earlier, he was honored by the Shelter Partnership, an organization of downtown Los Angeles businesses, and was named a winner of the Los Amigos Award from the School of Social Work at USC.