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Remembering Russell Baker, Pulitzer-winning writer and humorist

Author, columnist and humorist Russell Baker has died at age 93. We remember the media icon, who won two Pulitzer Prizes for his writing and hosted "Masterpiece Theater" for more than a decade.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Finally tonight, remembering the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, columnist and humorist Russell Baker.

    Baker, whose career began at The Baltimore Sun, first came to national attention as a correspondent and then as a columnist for The New York Times. He wrote nearly 5,000 commentaries over a period of three-plus decades.

    His columns were known for their wit, satire, and sometimes subversive takes that could land a punch. He once said of his time covering Congress that he was outside closed-door meetings — quote — "waiting for somebody to come out and lie to me."

    Baker wrote 15 books.

    He spoke with Jim Lehrer in 1989. And Jim asked him why he still enjoyed being a columnist after so many years.

  • Russell Baker:

    The pleasure that comes from it is the pleasure of having somebody to listen to you.

    I think all America is dying for somebody to listen to them. And if you are a columnist, twice a week you can air whatever is on your mind for a huge audience.

    I can understand. I think that's another reason that people out there may be a bit sore as us. They have a lot to say to. And they must read somebody like me, and they say, why does this guy have the right to get off 800 words every other day about what I can't even get my letter to the editor published? And they have a point.

  • Jim Lehrer:

    Sure, sure.

  • Russell Baker:

    But as long as you have a column and you can let off that steam twice a week, you will never need psychotherapy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    For many PBS viewers, Baker was even more well-known as the host of "Masterpiece Theatre" for 11 years.

    Here he is in 1998 introducing a production of Thomas Hardy's "Far From the Madding Crowd."

  • Russell Baker:

    It was deep winter when I first looked at the program you're about to see, and I had one of those colds that make you feel so sorry for yourself you want to break down and cry.

    Four hours later — that's how long the show runs — I was cured. Oh, I still had the cold, but I no longer wanted to die. I had been to a wonderful place, one of those places they don't make anymore, and never will again, I suppose. And I had met a fascinating bunch of people.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    An icon, Russell Baker, died Monday at his home in Leesburg, Virginia. He was 93 years old.

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