Remembering Irving R. Levine and John Wilke
The Hill yesterday published a heartfelt letter from Nelson Lewis on the recent passing of news legend Irving R. Levine. While Lewis includes personal anecdotes of how Levine served as a mentor, he also makes clear Levine’s prescience and influence, writing:
Were it not for Mr. Levine — who co-founded the predecessor to CNBC, the Financial News Network — the entire financial TV news industry would not exist in today’s form. … Mr. Levine will be remembered as a pioneer of American broadcasting. His precise delivery and unique ability to explain the intricacies of international finance in everyday language made him a top-notch raconteur, whom others have subsequently tried to emulate.”
And, of course, who could forget that voice? Irving R. Levine could have read the phone book and sounded authoritative.
The news world lost another one of the greats when John Wilke, a 20-year veteran of The Wall Street Journal, passed away earlier this month at the all-too-young age of 54.
If you don’t know Wilke’s byline, you know his work: long investigative pieces on backroom deals in Congress and in boardrooms throughout the nation. These included stories about now-resigned Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.), Rep. John Murtha’s (D-Pa.) procurement of earmarks and the long-running Department of Justice antitrust case against Microsoft.
Wilke also used his investigative skills for more lighthearted — but no less compelling — reading, including why Bill Gates was, for a while at least, unable to join Augusta National Golf Club and my personal favorite, an investigation of bottles of wine purchased by billionaire Bill Koch, purported to have been owned by Thomas Jefferson and widely thought to be fraudulent.
In politics, we often complain about the media for their bias and focus on sensationalism, among other things. Often these complaints are valid. But it’s important to remember, despite these complaints, that there are many journalists doing good work and keeping feet to the coals. Irving R. Levine and John Wilke were two great examples of this; journalism — and public service — are better for their contributions.
Rest in peace.
The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.