Everett McKinley Dirksen

Frank H. Mackaman, Compiler and Editor 2016

Neil MacNeil (1923-2008)

The Bronx-born MacNeil arrived in Washington in 1949 to report on Congress for the United Press. He worked for Time from 1958 until his retirement in 1987. In 1964, MacNeil became one of the first congressional correspondents on television. He began delivering weekly news and commentary about Congress on WETA, a public television station in Washington. His program, "Neil MacNeil Reports," continued until 1967, when the station originated "Washington Week in Review," on which Mr. MacNeil frequently appeared as a commentator. The program was broad cast nationally by the Public Broadcasting Service. He wrote three books: Forge of Democracy: The House of Representatives, 1963; Dirksen: Portrait of a Public Man, 1970; and The President’s Medal 1789-1977, 1977, a study of presidential inaugural medals. At the time of his death, MacNeil was completing a fourth book, tentatively titled Call The Roll: A Candid History of the United States Senate. For many years he served on the executive committee of the Congressional Periodical Press Galleries. In 1980 he won the Everett McKinley Dirksen Award for Distinguished Reporting on Congress.

On August 24, 1961, in response to a request from his editors, Neil MacNeil filed the following report on himself [MacNeil to Clurman for pub letter]:

As you requested, here’s a self-serving report on me.

Schools: Phillips Exeter, Harvard, Columbia School of Graduate Faculties. Major: American political history.

Father: Neil MacNeil, former assistant managing editor, New York Time. Mother, Elizabeth Quin, originally from County Galway, Ireland. Wife: Laureen, and daughters: Dierdre and Catherine Elizabeth, both under 16 months.

It’s true I kept a falcon for almost a year—actually had it flying around the house, and I claim I taught it to fly—but I’m not a qualified falconer, just a long-time observer of the great falcon migration down the Long Island shore each fall. Southampton is home away from home, but I’m pretty well rooted in Washington now, having been here [the] last 12 years.

I have a small reputation as a chef—filet of sole, bonne femme, coq au vin, and the best hollandaise in town—and a somewhat exaggerated reputation as a wine connoisseur. The only secret is to know how to read the bottle’s label, to own taste buds adequate to tell a chateau bottling from rotgut, and to have on tap the patios of the wine-lover. I keep a modest cellar in the Victorian house we restored on Capitol Hill, a half dozen blocks from the big dome, and, like any man who likes the good things in life—i.e., old books, Rembrandt etching—I prefer claret.

I broke in as a reporter for the New York Times, covering Brooklyn police headquarters, got the rudiments there and on New York’s east side with the usual collection of fires, murders, suicides. I punched cattle briefly in Cotulla, Texas, a state which didn’t appreciate me. I left after I had been charged by a loco white-faced cow, been endangered by tarantulas, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and been shot at by the foreman. My first job was selling librettos at the Metropolitan Opera. I’m a trout fisherman who doesn’t tie his own dry flies, but I keep and don’t use enough a handsome collection of custom-made fly rods, including two very early (1870) split bamboo rods. I had an abortive music career with the bagpipe, being forced to give that up because of the neighbors.

I came to Washington in late 1949 with the UP [United Press International], and for them covered the U.S. Senate first for a few years, then the night rewrite for a few more, then a brief stint at the White House, before the House of Representatives. I joined Time in April 1958. I’ve been covering the Capitol ever since for Time. Covers include: Rayburn, House leaders, Halleck, and Lodge.

Professionally, my main interest on the Hill is not so much what happened as how it happened, for the true drama of a legislative fight normally takes place before the formal vote, in the private offices, the closed committee rooms, the cloakrooms, and the lobbies. These are the places where the decision is made, where the blood is shed.

I first met Larry O’Brien [President John Kennedy’s congressional liaison chief about whom MacNeil was preparing a Time cover story in August 1961] in the early days of the West Virginia primary, saw his operation in Los Angeles, ran into him a few times during the fall campaign. I began to bump into him this year around the Senate and House, but didn’t really get interested in his operations until a dramatic change took place around April. My count of the House told me that the Kennedy program couldn’t get through, and this count was confirmed by friends on both sides in the House and lobbyist friends as well, but the Kennedy bills were moving through the House. The Senate had some rough spots for the Kennedy program, but not the challenge of the House. The obvious question came up: how was this being done? And an examination of the power centers quickly turned up O’Brien’s footprints and those of his aides and allies. Thus the cover.

For the past several years, I have been making an intensive study of Congress, particularly the House, a chamber normally neglected by Washington correspondents largely because of its complexity. This study has included in depth examination of the power centers, the lobbies, and so one, and a near exhaustion of the published sources on Congress. I’m proudest of one private remarks by Speaker Rayburn to a friend about me. He said: “He knows the House.”

END

Neil MacNeil’s Collection

The Dirksen Congressional Center, Pekin, Illinois, houses the MacNeil Collection. The reporter’s daughter, Deirdre, donated the collection in August 2012 following its use by Richard A. Baker, Historian Emeritus of the U.S. Senate, who consulted the collection in order to complete a manuscript on the history of the Senate begun by MacNeil.

The collection is divided into the following series: Clippings, Notes, Reports, Subjects, and Miscellaneous. This publication draws on the Reports series.

MacNeil’s reports, filed with his senior editors, comprise the heart of his collection. They are typed and detailed and cover a vast array of topics. These reports document the interplay between MacNeil, the reporter, and his editors. Further, they include off-the-record information as context for published stories. Together the reports portray the time period in a personal, colorful, and informed way.

Although the first report authored by MacNeil was dated April 3, 1958, his collection includes earlier reports from other Time reporters, likely retrieved from the magazine’s archives as background research for MacNeil’s own reports.

“Neil MacNeil Reporting on Everett McKinley Dirksen” transcribes every report in his collection that mentioned Everett Dirksen by name.

Explanatory Notes

MacNeil’s reports took two forms. Many were prepared in draft form using a typewriter often with handwritten corrections and annotations. Others appeared in final form with the text in ALL CAPS. In relatively few cases, both versions exist for a single report.

To improve readability, and yet preserve MacNeil’s style, the editor adopted the following conventions:

  1. Although MacNeil’s final reports were filed in ALL CAPs, this transcript employs standard rules of capitalization.
  2. Minor errors of spelling and punctuation have been corrected. Major errors are noted by [sic].
  3. The reporter varied his spelling of certain terms. For example, he spelled Vietnam as both a single and as two words, i.e., Viet Nam. The transcript adopted a consistent approach—in this case converting all references to “Vietnam.”

As rich and thorough as the Reports series is, there are gaps, indicating that MacNeil did not save all his filings. There are relatively few documents between 1962 and 1964, and there are no reports on the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“Neil MacNeil Reporting on Everett McKinley Dirksen” is organized chronologically. The header for each entry lists the date, the author’s name (usually MacNeil), the person to whom the report was sent, and the title notation. In the vast majority of cases, several reports or drafts on a single topic apparently were prepared—a Roman numeral designated the version. There are many omissions in those cases where MacNeil prepared multiple drafts.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

July 3, 1957
Berger to Laybourne
Kennedy on Algeria

July 5, 1957
Berger to Laybourne
Kennedy’s Immigration Bill

August 16, 1958
MacNeil to Williamson
ADD Congress Week

January 29, 1959
MacNeil to Williamson
Housing (Biz)

March 12, 1959
MacNeil to Williamson
Hawaii (na)

April 23, 1959
MacNeil to Wiliamson
Nation’s Lede (Labor Bill)-1 (NA)

April 25, 1959
From MacNeil to Williamson
Nation’s Lede—Labor Bill-IV

April 25, 1959
MacNeil to Williamson
Nation’s lede—Labor Bill—IV (NA)

September 4, 1959
MacNeil to Gruin
Labor Reform II (NA)

December 31, 1959
MacNeil to Johnston
Nation’s Lead-I- (NA)

April 2, 1960
MacNeil to Johnston (copy to Hedley Donovan)
Connally Rider (NA)

August 26, 1960
From McNeil to Johnston
Congress -11 (NA)

February 23, 1961
From McNeil to Jones
Welfare (NA)

May 3, 1961
From McNeil to Parker (copy to Cate for Press)
Capital Notes, Ike and the Washington Post (NA)

May 12, 1961
From MacNeil to Parker
Ev and Charlie (NA)

June 1, 1961
MacNeil to Clurman for Hooper World Fronts Life
“Republican Speechmaking -I”

September 4, 1962
MacNeil to Parker
Dirksen Cover-I (Nation)

September 4, 1962
MacNeil to Parker
Dirksen Cover VII (Nation)

September 4, 1962
MacNeil to Parker
Dirksen Cover VIII (Nation)

September 4, 1962
MacNeil to Parker
Dirksen Cover IX (Nation)

September 4, 1962
MacNeil to Parker
Dirksen Cover XI (Nation) (Nation)

September 5, 1962
MacNeil to Parker
Dirksen Cover XII (Nation)

August 10, 1963
From Miller to Gruin
Kefauver (Nation)

August 22, 1963
From Miller to Parker
Kefauver (Nation)

November 21, 1963
From McNeil to Parker
Congress Week (Nation)

November 23, 1963
From McNeil to Parker
Johnson Cover-VI (Nation)

November 26, 1963
From McNeil to Johnston
“Congress -11” (NA)

December 19, 1963
From McNeil to Parker
The 88th, First Session-II (Nation)

January 3, 1964
From McNeil to Parker
Add Foreign Aid (Nation)

February 24, 1964
McNeil to Parker
Mansfield Cover III (Nation)

February 24, 1964
McNeil to Parker
Mansfield Cover IV (Nation)

February 24, 1964
McNeil to Parker
Mansfield Cover V (Nation)

February 26, 1964
McNeil to Parker
Mansfield Cover XII (Nation)

February 26, 1964
McNeil to Parker
Mansfield Cover Advisory (Nation)

July 16, 1964
MacNeil (San Francisco Hilton Workroom)
to Applegate, Parker
The Villains Take V (Press; Copy to Nation)

August 6, 1964
MacNeil to Parker
Attack VIII (Nation) Cover—
Congress and Johnson

August 27, 1964
From McNeil (Convention workroom,
Atlantic City) to Parker, New York
Humphrey Cover, Take V
(Nation, copy to Life editorial)

October 2, 1964 (requested)
From McNeil to Parker
88th Congress (Nation)

October 19, 1964 (requested)
From McNeil to Parker
Keating Cover
Congressional Record (Nation)

December 18, 1964
From McNeil to Parker
House Republicans IV (Nation)

January 13, 1965
McNeil to Parker
Fulbright Cover III (Nation)

February 4, 1965
McNeil to Parker
Congress I (Nation)

February 5, 1965
McNeil to Parker
Congress III (Nation)

February 11, 1965
McNeil to Parker
Congressional Response—Vietnam cover XI (Nation)

February 19, 1965
McNeil to Parker
Nation’s Lede

February 19, 1965
McNeil to Parker
Nation’s Lede—Take II

April 29, 1965
McNeil to Parker
Dominican Republic III (Hemisphere)

April 30, 1965
McNeil to Parker
Vietnam Debate Lead (Nation)

May 7, 1965
McNeil to Parker
Vietnam Appropriations (Nation)

June 16, 1965
McNeil to Parker
Nation’s Lede

June 25, 1965
McNeil to Parker
Vietnam Lede (Nation)

July 1, 1965
McNeil to Parker
Vietnam—Congressional Debate (Nation)

July 15, 1965
McNeil to Parker
Housing Bill (Nation)

July 15, 1965
McNeil to Parker
Humbert Humphrey III (Nation)

July 16, 1965
McNeil to Parker
Add Vietnam Lede (Nation)

July 29, 1965
MacNeil to Beshoar
Johnson Cover VIII (Nation)

August 5, 1965
MacNeil to Goodpaster
The Senate and Vietnam II (Nation)

September 16, 1965
MacNeil to Parker
Add Mood of the Capitol (Nation)

September 23, 1965
MacNeil to Parker
Nation’s Lede II (Nation)

October 7, 1965
MacNeil to Parker
Add Nation’s Lede

October 13, 1965
MacNeil to Parker
14-b—Right to Work II (Nation)

October 20, 1965
MacNeil to Time Nation
Congress Box

October 21, 1965
MacNeil to Time Nation
Congressional Adjournment I

October 23, 1965
MacNeil to Time Nation
Congressional Adjournment III

December 9, 1965
MacNeil to Time Nation
Nation’s Lede

December 28, 1965
MacNeil to Time Nation
Vietnam Project IX

January 13, 1966
MacNeil to Time Nation
State & Mood of the Nation, Specifics of the LBJ speech, Reaction to speech State of the Union

January 14, 1966
MacNeil to Time Nation
State of the Union—Congressional Reaction

January 20, 1966
MacNeil to Time Nation
Russell Long Cover—Take XIII

January 27, 1966
MacNeil to Time Nation
Rusk Cover-I

January 28, 1966
MacNeil to Time Nation
Rusk Cover-VI

February 4, 1966
MacNeil to Time Nation
Add Nation’s Lede

February 10, 1966
MacNeil to Time Nation
Congress Week—Take I—the Non-Repeal of 14-b

February 10, 1966
MacNeil to Time Nation
Long—Take I

March 11, 1966
MacNeil to Time Nation
LBJ Program

March 23, 1966
MacNeil to Time Nation
Humphrey Cover—Take VII

April 6, 1966
MacNeil to Time Nation
Congress—Take I

June 30, 1966
MacNeil to Time Nation
McNamara Cover V

August 24, 1966
MacNeil to Time Nation
The Republican Kickoff I, and Nation Mood I

August 25, 1966
MacNeil to Time Nation
The Republican Kickoff II, and Nation Mood III

August 25, 1966
MacNeil to Time Nation
Republican Kick-Off—Take III

September 6, 1966
MacNeil to Time Nation
Kennedy Cover—Take V

September 30, 1966
MacNeil to Time Nation
Add the Campaign—The Abortive Issues

October 22, 1966
MacNeil to Time Nation
Add Congress

October 24, 1966
Washington staff to Boyle, New York (Confidential)
The Washington Memo

January 12, 1967
MacNeil to Time Nation
State of the Union—Take IV

January 12, 1967
MacNeil to Time Nation
Congress—Take II

January 13, 1967
MacNeil to Time Nation
State of the Union—Take VI

January 20, 1967
MacNeil to Time Nation
GOP State of the Union

February 1, 1967
Parker to Washington Bureau

February 13, 1967
MacNeil to Time Essay
Ethics in Government—Take II

February 13, 1967
MacNeil to Time Essay
Ethics in Government—Take IV

February 14, 1967
MacNeil to Time Essay
Ethics in Government—Take V

February 16, 1967
Parker to Washington Bureau

March 9, 1967
MacNeil to Time Nation
Congressional Reorganization

May 4, 1967
MacNeil to Time Nation
Long—Take I

May 4, 1967
MacNeil to Time Nation, Essay
Nation’s Lede, Take V—Dissent Essay, Take III

May 4, 1967
MacNeil to Time Nation (copy to Essay)
Nation’s Lede—Take VI

May 5, 1967
MacNeil to Time Nation
Add Long

May 11, 1967
MacNeil to Time Nation
Congress at Mid-Session—Take I

June 15, 1967
MacNeil to Time Nation
Add Thurgood Marshall

July 13, 1967
MacNeil to Time Nation
NAACP

August 10, 1967
MacNeil to Time Nation
Arms and the Bank

September 28, 1967
MacNeil to Time Nation
Vietnam Cover—Take IX

October 5, 1967
MacNeil to Time Nation
Nation’s Lede—Take I

October 27, 1967
MacNeil to Time Nation
Demonstrations Aftermath—Take VIII

January 18, 1968
MacNeil to Time Nation
Congress—Mood and Prospects—Take I; State of the Union—Take II

January 18, 1968
MacNeil to Time Nation
Congress—Mood and Prospects—Take II; State of the Union—Take III

February 23, 1968
MacNeil to Time Nation
Revolution in the Senate

February 28, 1968
MacNeil to Jackson for Life, ex-Glennon, Editorials
Ethics

March 6, 1968
MacNeil to Joe Kastner Life
(copy to Clurman, Time Nation)
How Old Ev Did It

March 22, 1968
MacNeil to Time Nation
Ethics

May 22, 1968
MacNeil to Time Nation
The Year of Ferment—Take I

June 27, 1968
MacNeil to Time Nation
Fortas Cover—Take II

July 17, 1968
MacNeil to Time Nation
Fortas—Take II

July 24, 1968
MacNeil to Time Nation
Fortas—Take I

August 8, 1968
MacNeil (No. 1), Miami to Time Nation
The Convention—Chronology

[August 8], 1968
MacNeil (No. 2), Miami Beach, to Time Nation
The Convention—Chronology

August 9, 1968
MacNeil (No. 5) Miami Beach to Time Nation
The Convention—Chronology

September 5, 1968
MacNeil to Time Nation
Fortas

September 19, 1968
MacNeil to Time Nation
Fortas

September 23, 1968
MacNeil to Time Nation
Cover Suggestion

September 26, 1968
MacNeil to Time Nation
Fortas

September 27, 1968
MacNeil to Time Nation
Fortas II

September 30, 1968
The Washington staff to Clurman, New York (Confidential)
The Washington Memo--II
The Fortas Denouement

October 3, 1968
MacNeil to Time, Nation
Fortas—Take III

October 3, 1968
MacNeil to Time Nation
Fortas—Take IV

October 4, 1968
MacNeil to Time Nation
ADD Fortas

October 24, 1968
MacNeil to Time World
The 91st Senate—Take II

January 3, 1969
MacNeil to Time Nation
Teddy Kennedy Cover—Take IV

January 3, 1969
MacNeil to Time Nation
Teddy Kennedy Cover—Take V

January 4, 1969
MacNeil to Time Nation
Teddy Kennedy Cover—Take XI

May 7, 1969
MacNeil to Time Nation
ABM—Take II

June 6, 1969
MacNeil to Time Nation
Press Investigations of Dirksen

June 20, 1969
MacNeil to Time Nation
McCarthy Story—Goodell-Dirksen—Take IV

June 29, 1969
MacNeil to Time Nation
Foreign Policy—Take II

September 11, 1969
MacNeil to Time Nation
Dirksen—An Appraisal