I grew up with Tom Braden, so to speak. I was coming of age, politically, when Crossfire was new — when CNN was new, for that matter. I watched the show like a fiend. Learned a lot about politics from it: from its hosts and from its guests. It was a formative influence, I have to admit. The first liberal host — “From the left . . .” — was Tom Braden. He and Pat Buchanan were the two hosts, and stars. The show — or some version of it — had originally been on the radio. Then it crossed over to television.
Braden was a handsome, tan, silver-haired rascal. Had served in the RAF (as I recall), before the U.S. entered the war; then, when the U.S. got in, he served with his fellow Americans. Had then gone to the CIA. And then become a newspaper owner. He wrote a well-known book: Eight Is Enough, about his children. Actually, it wasn’t so much the book that was well-known as the TV show based on it. Braden had unusual domestic arrangements: His wife was the mistress, or whatever, of Robert McNamara. All three parties were very open, and public, about all this. You could read about it in the Washington Post.
I remember something that Joan said: that she would be happy if Tom had an affair, if it were with someone “intelligent,” such as Sandra Day O’Connor. (That was her example.)
Braden was not particularly effective for the Left, in my opinion — not on Crossfire, certainly not in the later years. He would grant conservatives very little humanity. Thought they were all racists, warmongers, and fools. And haters of the poor. No one on the left thinks that today, right? But I sort of liked the old dude. He was my Crossfire host (left chair), and always will be. He has died, age 92. For an article, go here. I’m glad I knew him — knew him via television. Haven’t forgotten him.