- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 26, 2006

The book Slate political journalist John Dickerson has written — his mother’s biography, “On Her Trail: My Mother, Nancy Dickerson, TV News’ First Woman Star” — was probably the toughest piece of reporting he ever has done.

Tuesday’s party in his honor, given by writer-editor Margaret Carlson in her Georgetown home, must rank as one of the most rewarding an author can have. “There is no more amusing group than people in the press,” Miss Dickerson once wrote. Its members turned out in droves, alongside numerous other Washington movers and shakers. She died in 1997 after a long career breaking barriers for women in a highly competitive, traditionally sexist field.

The range of Names in attendance was a tribute of sorts to both the mother and to the son whose tell-all book helped resolve an early love-hate relationship with the pioneering icon whose personal and professional needs took a toll on her family life.

“She was a victim of her own ambition,” noted Wyatt Dickerson, John’s father, whom Miss Dickerson married in 1962.

The couple “had a great romance, and it lasted a long time,” Wyatt Dickerson acknowledged. Merrywood, the Potomac River mansion in Virginia where Jacqueline Kennedy grew up, also was home for a period to the Dickersons and an entertainment site of renown.

“If any of you ever had a mother, you know the qualification — not flawless,” political pundit Mary Matalin told the crowd, with husband Jim Carville watching with a wry eye nearby. “For all the women in this room — I can’t think of anybody who isn’t a trailblazer — we all stand on her shoulders,” she added, calling the book “a real work of history that needed to be told.”

“I always thought that Nancy was just the nicest person,” recalled television’s Bob Schieffer, volunteering how “surprised” he was that a female TV anchor hadn’t been in place long ago, given the numbers now prominent in network and cable. Former Motion Picture Association head Jack Valenti mused about the time President Johnson stepped out of an airplane in front of a clamoring press posse, saying, “I really want to talk to Nancy” — an example of the late broadcaster’s power to charm.

Ann Geracimos

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