Denny Walsh, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter who was a consummate nuisance to mobsters, corrupt politicians and his editors — particularly at The New York Occasions, which fired him — died on March 29 at his residence in Antelope, Calif., a suburb of Sacramento. He was 88.

His daughter, Colleen Bartow, confirmed the dying. She mentioned Mr. Walsh had been affected by a number of respiratory illnesses.

Mr. Walsh started his profession in 1961 at The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, the place he hot-dogged across the newsroom smoking cigars and used the ground as his ashtray.

“Walsh had the tenacity of a pit bull and gave the impression to be creating a few of the facial options of the breed,” Pat Buchanan, the conservative commentator who was then an editorial author on the paper, wrote in his autobiography, “Proper From the Starting” (1988). “His snicker was loud and uncontrolled and bordered on the malicious.”

Mr. Buchanan added, “When Walsh sank his tooth right into a politician, he normally did critical injury, and he was at all times reluctant to let go.”

Investigative reporters are an idiosyncratic breed of journalist. Sometimes fearless, they’re typically a supply of angina to their editors. Mr. Walsh was no exception. He preferred to boast that he was sued a number of occasions for libel however had by no means misplaced a case. He was typically at loggerheads along with his bosses.

In 1969, Mr. Walsh and Albert L. Delugach received the Pulitzer Prize for native investigative reporting for a collection of articles exposing fraud and corruption throughout the St. Louis Steamfitters Union, Native 562.

The subsequent 12 months, Mr. Walsh wrote an article claiming that Alfonso J. Cervantes, the mayor of St. Louis, had ties to native underworld figures. G. Duncan Bauman, the newspaper’s writer, killed the article, later explaining that he had referred to as his personal sources, who he mentioned didn’t assume the article was correct.

Incensed, Mr. Walsh later publicly accused the writer of getting his personal unsavory group connections. He stop and joined Life journal, which had not too long ago fashioned an investigative reporting unit. He expanded his reporting on Mayor Cervantes in a story that relied closely on unnamed federal legislation enforcement sources.

Mr. Cervantes sued Life and Mr. Walsh in federal courtroom for libel, arguing that the reporter had acted with malice and needs to be ordered to disclose his sources. A district choose dominated in favor of Life and Mr. Walsh.

The case ultimately landed in the USA Courtroom of Appeals, Eighth Circuit, which upheld the lower court ruling in opposition to the mayor. Mr. Walsh had not acted with malice, the courtroom mentioned, and the mayor had not “produced a scintilla of proof supportive of a discovering that both defendant in truth entertained critical doubts in regards to the fact of a single sentence within the article.” The U.S. Supreme Courtroom declined to listen to the case.

Mr. Walsh joined the Washington bureau of The Occasions in 1973, on the top of the Watergate scandal — a narrative that the Washington Submit reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein had been dominating. The Occasions assigned Seymour Hersh, a reporter within the bureau who had received a Pulitzer for exposing the My Lai massacre through the Vietnam Struggle, to assist the paper catch up.

“I’m scrambling round writing odds and ends, however Woodward and Bernstein have been thus far forward, and I didn’t actually know anybody within the White Home,” Mr. Hersh mentioned in an interview. “After which Denny reveals up, this large husky man, at all times chewing on a cigar.” (Newsroom smoking was by then a no-no.)

Mr. Walsh wasn’t concerned about Watergate; he wished to proceed reporting on the nexus between politicians and the prison underworld. He supplied to attach Mr. Hersh to a supply who may be of help on Watergate. “It was any individual in the course of every little thing,” Mr. Hersh mentioned. “And I immediately had what you want — any individual inside.”

Mr. Walsh turned his consideration to Joseph Alioto, the mayor of San Francisco. Look journal had not too long ago printed a canopy article that accused him of getting a number of Mafia connections. Mr. Alioto sued the journal for libel and received. Mr. Walsh’s sources, nevertheless, informed him one other model of occasions — that the mayor had lied throughout his testimony within the case.

After holing up in a San Francisco lodge for 3 months to research, Mr. Walsh filed a prolonged story on the matter. A hullabaloo adopted.

A.M. Rosenthal, the highest editor of The Occasions, refused to publish the article. Based on letters and memos in a collection of his papers on the New York Public Library, he didn’t assume the piece materially superior what Look journal had printed.

Mr. Walsh was apoplectic. So was Mr. Hersh. “After some dialogue in regards to the high quality of the piece and its publishability,” Mr. Walsh wrote in a letter to Mr. Rosenthal, “I requested Hersh if he had any solutions as to who may be concerned about it.”

Mr. Hersh urged Rolling Stone, and Mr. Walsh offered a replica of the article to its editors. Not lengthy after, Mr. Rosenthal discovered that one other copy had been leaked to Extra, {a magazine} that coated the media.

Now Mr. Rosenthal was apoplectic. Based on Extra, he ordered an investigation into how the journal received the article, which to this present day is unclear. (It by no means appeared in print wherever however is included with Mr. Rosenthal’s papers.)

He additionally fired Mr. Walsh.

“The hurt to The Occasions and journalism is that you simply intentionally despatched this story to a different publication,” Mr. Rosenthal wrote in 1974 in his termination letter.

Brit Hume, the Fox News political analyst who was then the Washington editor of Extra, printed a protracted article in regards to the palace intrigue. He speculated that Mr. Rosenthal’s resolution to not publish Mr. Walsh’s article had been influenced by executives from Cowles Communications, which owned Look and was a serious shareholder in The Occasions.

Mr. Rosenthal made no point out of Cowles in his letter to Mr. Walsh or in a memo to The Occasions’s writer, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger.

“I’ve determined to not print the piece,” he wrote to Mr. Sulzberger, “just because because it stands I don’t assume it’s a story that carries the Alioto affair additional sufficient journalistically.” He added, “By the way, I’m completely glad as to the accuracy of the statements within the story.”

Denny Jay Walsh was born on Nov. 23, 1935, in Omaha. His father, Gerald Walsh, was an auto mechanic. His mom, Muriel (Morton) Walsh, was a beautician.

Rising up in Kansas, Denny labored at a movie show operating the projector. One movie he confirmed was “The Turning Point” (1952), starring William Holden as a reporter who took on corrupt public officers. Denny noticed a future model of himself in that character.

He enrolled on the College of Missouri in 1954 however dropped out to affix the Marines. He returned to high school in 1958, majoring in journalism, and graduated in 1962.

After The Occasions fired him, Mr. Walsh ran an investigative reporting group for the McClatchy newspaper chain. In 1983, at The Sacramento Bee, one of many firm’s papers, his investigation of a on line casino co-owned by Paul Laxalt, a former U.S. senator from Nevada, resulted in one other libel go well with. Mr. Laxalt later dropped the case.

Mr. Walsh married Angela Sharp in 1960. They divorced in 1964. He married Peggy Moore in 1966; she died in 2023. Along with his daughter, he’s survived by a son, Sean, and 7 grandchildren.

Mr. Walsh wore down his editors in Sacramento, too.

“There I used to be in early 1991,” he mentioned at his retirement in 2016. “Fifty‐5 years outdated, unable to afford retirement, and not wished at The Bee.”

He mentioned he had been deemed a “disruptive presence.” His editors assigned him to cowl the federal courtroom. He stayed on the beat for 25 years. He was a beloved determine across the courtroom, particularly amongst judges.

Chief U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller told The Bee, “I’d have lunch with Denny periodically to search out out what was actually taking place right here.”



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