A couple of friends of ours who formerly worked at the Reader’s Digest, passed along the sad news that one of RD‘s great staff writers in its legendary Washington Bureau, Trevor Armbrister, died yesterday after a long illness.
Armbrister, to those who don’t track these kinds of things, was one of the great reporters in Washington, who traveled all over the country doing investigative pieces on everything from child predators to organized crime, government waste, fraud and abuse, to the scandal of organized labor.
He was also the co-author of autobiographies of former President Gerald R. Ford and Speaker of the House Denny Hastert.
Armbrister’s death reminds us of just how far the Washington Bureau has fallen off the map in the past three or so years. Reader’s Digest was the magazine that brought Hayek’s free market ideas to the masses, was one of the few mainstream, wide-circulation publications to reveal the inhumanity of the Soviet Union, Vietnam and Red China, introduced Ronald Reagan’s conservative philosophy to many Americans for the first time, took Hillary Healthcare apart so that it couldn’t be put back together, and in the mid-1990s, one of the first magazines to examine the nuclear threat of Iran and the terrorist threat of Bin Laden. We’re told Armbrister played a critical role in many of those stories over his three-decade career at the magazine. Armbrister’s death is doubly painful then. Not only have we lost a great writer, but we’re reminded of how a once-great publication has been destroyed by an infusion of mediocre, left-wing staff and little vision or original thought.
Reader’s Digest could use a few Armbristers today, but clearly, the magazine wouldn’t know what to do with them.
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