His reporting has been praised as “riveting.” ABC News called him “excellent, well-connected and influential,” and “legendary.” The American Journalism Review rated him “one of the unsung stars of Washington journalism.” And President Gerald R. Ford called him “one of the finest journalists I have ever known. Everyone I know feels the same way: you are fair, trustworthy and professional.”
One of Washington’s most respected President-watchers, Tom DeFrank is a political journalist and author and is the senior correspondent covering the White House on a regular basis. He is a contributing editor at National Journal and was Washington bureau chief of the New York Daily News from 1996 to 2012.
DeFrank was Newsweek’s senior White House correspondent for a quarter century and has covered nine Presidents and 13 Presidential campaigns. He has reported on the resignation of one President, the impeachment of a second, and was an eyewitness to both assassination attempts against a third.
His 2007 book on 30 years of private conversations with President Ford, Write it When I’m Gone, was a New York Times and Washington Post bestseller. DeFrank co-authored Secretary of State James A. Baker III’s memoirs and Quest for the Presidency 1992, Newsweek’s critically-acclaimed look at the 1992 Clinton-Bush election.
In 2006 DeFrank won the Gerald R. Ford Prize for distinguished Presidential reporting. “His coverage of the White House demonstrated a particularly keen perception of relationships among principals and how these relationships influenced official policy,” the judges noted. “His articles were consistently accurate, balanced in judgment, and usually ahead of his competitors.” In October 2014 he was honored by the White House Correspondents’ Association for more than 40 years of distinguished Presidential coverage.
He has been a student of the Presidency since 1968, when he took his first Presidential trip with Lyndon Johnson as a Newsweek intern. He traveled extensively with Richard Nixon and was assigned to Vice President Gerald Ford in October 1973. A few weeks before Nixon’s resignation, he was reassigned to the White House and remained when Ford became President in August 1974. He has reported from 50 states and 48 countries and is a former president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. In 1973 he covered the return of U.S. prisoners of war from Vietnam at Clark Air Base in the Philippines.
DeFrank was on active duty at the Pentagon from 1968 to 1970 as an Army public affairs officer. Before joining Newsweek, he was a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Bryan (Texas) Daily Eagle and Minneapolis Star. A native of Arlington, Texas, he is a 1967 high honors graduate of Texas A&M University, where he edited the campus newspaper, and earned a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota.