His reporting has been praised as “riveting.” ABC News calls him “excellent, well-connected and influential,” and “legendary.” The American Journalism Review has rated him “one of the unsung stars of Washington journalism.” The New York Times ranked him as one of the country’s best political ghostwriters. 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 veteran political journalist and author. As Washington bureau chief of the New York Daily News since 1996, he directs coverage of the nation’s capital for the country’s fourth-largest metropolitan daily newspaper.
In 2007 he was honored by the White House Correspondents’ Association for “his exclusive reporting as well as his ability to pack lively analysis into compact spaces.”
In 2006 DeFrank won the Gerald R. Ford Prize for distinguished reporting on the Presidency. In announcing the award, the judges noted: “His coverage of the White House demonstrated a particularly keen perception of relationships among principals and how these relationships influenced official policy. His articles were consistently accurate, balanced in judgment, and usually ahead of his competitors. ”
The 2008 Presidential campaign is the eleventh he has covered in 39 years as a Washington reporter. He has also covered the resignation of one President, the impeachment of a second, and was an eyewitness to two assassination attempts against a third.
His book on 30 years of private conversations with President Ford, “Write it When I’m Gone,” published in November 2007, was a New York Times and Washington Post bestseller.
DeFrank was Newsweek’s senior White House correspondent for a quarter century and also served as deputy chief of the magazine’s Washington bureau for twelve years. Assigned to the White House beat since 1970, DeFrank has covered seven Presidents: Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush. He is second only to Helen Thomas in terms of longevity on the White House beat and still spends most of his time reporting on the White House. He has had 22 interviews with President George W. Bush, whom he has covered since 1987.
DeFrank is the co-author of “Bare Knuckles and Back Rooms,” the 1996 best-selling memoir of controversial Republican political consultant Ed Rollins. He also co-authored “The Politics of Diplomacy,” the memoirs of former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, and “Quest for the Presidency 1992,” Newsweek’s critically-acclaimed, behind-the-scenes look at the Clinton-Bush election, published in 1994.
DeFrank has appeared on several public affairs television programs, including Meet the Press, Face the Nation, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Larry King Live, The Beltway Boys, Washington Week in Review, Fox News, The Charlie Rose Show, Fox & Friends and C-SPAN.
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 from 1970 to 1972 and was assigned to cover Vice President Gerald Ford in the fall of 1973. A few months before Nixon’s resignation, he was reassigned to the White House and remained when Ford became President in August 1974. He was an eyewitness to both assassination attempts against Ford in 1975.
He has covered 16 United States – Russian summits beginning with the historic 1974 Ford-Brezhnev meeting at Vladivostok. He has traveled to all 50 states and 48 countries as a White House reporter and is a former president of the White House Correspondents’ Association.
DeFrank has reported on congressional and military affairs, and in 1973 covered the return of U.S. prisoners of war from Vietnam at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. He also reported extensively on the Persian Gulf War, traveling to Saudi Arabia with President Bush in November 1990 and Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney and General Colin Powell in December 1990.
He is the only newsmagazine correspondent to win both of the White House Correspondents’ Association awards for distinguished Presidential reporting. He has also shared in several other reporting awards, including the Overseas Press Club’s award for his reporting of the 1987 Reagan-Gorbachev summit and Newsweek’s National Magazine Award for the 1992 Presidential campaign.
DeFrank was on active duty at the Pentagon from 1968 to 1970 as a 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, DeFrank is a 1967 high honors graduate of Texas A&M University, where he edited the campus newspaper, and has a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota.
“I think we had a very successful event and, of course, DeFrank stole the show! I have never attended a conference where attendees were not eager to escape the pleasantries associated with conference luncheons. Our guests were rooted to their seats. DeFrank’s delivery on presidential antics was a moment to experience. Kudos.”
“Excellent! Tom is a great guy and everyone found his presentation interesting and enjoyable. He has an easy style and is very good. He was a real nice guy on top of it.”
“I wanted to thank you again for presenting at our annual conference. The success of (deleted) is dependent upon people like you sharing your wonderful insights and experiences with us…I could have listened to your stories for hours.”
“You were the hit of the event! They loved you and thought one of the funniest things you said was to consider Hillary Clinton a ‘Ted Kennedy in a pants suit.’ You made us the hero.”