Conservative Commentator James J. Kilpatrick Dies at 89

James J. Kilpatrick, best known as the conservative-curmudgeon commentator on "60 Minutes" in its "Point-Counterpoint" segment in the 1970s, has died at the age of 89. Washingtonians also remember his years as a panelist on the local weekly political talk show "Agronsky & Company." His column "A Conservative View" was syndicated in hundreds of newspapers.

The Washington Post obituary on Tuesday focused heavily on his role in promoting segregationism in the 1960s at the Richmond News-Leader and concluded with his story that he was asked to "take the side of 'The Conservative's View of Watergate.' And I asked myself, 'Just what is a conservative's view of burglary?'"

Kilpatrick's "Point-Counterpoint" commentaries were satirized by "Saturday Night Live" in which Dan Aykroyd began his rebuttal of Jane Curtin with the phrase "Jane, you ignorant slut." Kilpatrick was also parodied in the movie "Airplane" where a balding, crusty conservative claims that people knew what they were getting into when they bought their plane tickets: "I say let 'em crash." In his book Tell Me A Story, Don Hewitt wrote that Saturday Night Live only prolonged the segment's tenure.

He added that liberal Shana Alexander was preceded by the left-wing columnist Nicholas von Hoffman, "who I reluctantly had to let go when he insisted on referring to the president of the United States, Richard Nixon, as 'a dead mouse on the kitchen floor that everyone was afraid to touch and throw in the garbage.' Granted, it was a difficult time and the description was not that far off target, but it wasn't the kind of thing I wanted someone to say about the president of the United States on 60 Minutes."

In his book on "60 Minutes" titled "Tick...Tick...Tick," author David Blum wrote that it was Shana Alexander asking for a big raise from their $600 a week salary that prompted the segment's end in 1979. The dueling politicos were replaced by Andy Rooney, who's still on the air at 91.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis