Duncan Bauman is alive and well, and still trying to have the last word. Period.

Bear in mind, Bauman was a player -- a staunch anti-communist, devout Catholic and law-and-order man who didn't refrain from pushing his own agenda. He says he personally urged former Washington University Chancellor William H. Danforth to "get rid" of the environmentalist Barry Commoner, who was "too left-wing for me to swallow." His wish came true in 1981, when Commoner moved his Center for the Biology of Natural Systems to Queens College in New York. Bauman felt Elizabeth Taylor was "a disgrace" and prevailed on his predecessor as publisher, Dick Amberg, not to publish the movie star's name. Bauman barred the use of the term "Ms." in the newspaper -- a decision he says angered some women on the Globe staff. One of his proudest moments as publisher came when he refused to run advertisements for X-rated theaters.

In an interview, Bauman says he was a victim of discrimination himself. While publisher during the 1970s, he wanted to become president of the Bogey Club, home to Civic Progress meetings and the upper crust of St. Louis. Some members mounted a campaign to defeat his candidacy, he says, because he is Catholic. He overcame their opposition and became president.

Bauman's recollections sometimes paint a dim picture of himself and the rough-and-tumble world of old-time journalism. As a cub reporter for the Chicago Herald-Examiner, Bauman confesses, he sometimes broke into homes to get photographs of murder victims. "You didn't have a job if you didn't," he says. "If I went to the wrong house, people could have come to the door with a gun and shot me and would have been perfectly justified."

Duncan Bauman
Jennifer Silverberg
Duncan Bauman
Duncan Bauman averages two cigars a day instead of the 10 he once smoked while publisher of the Globe.
Jennifer Silverberg
Duncan Bauman averages two cigars a day instead of the 10 he once smoked while publisher of the Globe.

Bauman babysat a confessed killer at a hotel and kept him hidden from the rival Chicago Tribune -- and the police -- while the paper ran exclusive interviews. He once impersonated a coroner's aide to get a photograph of a dead man from the man's widow. During the visit, the Tribune called and tried the same ruse. Bauman grabbed the woman's photo album and ran out the door while she was still on the phone. "I just barely got out of that one," he says.

He ordered Globe reporters to do the same things while he was city editor. He says he doesn't know whether such shenanigans continued after he became publisher, but he has no regrets. He says he'd do the same thing today. "But I think as a practical matter we'd probably get arrested," he says. "It's a different attitude."

It's difficult to square such attitudes with Bauman's professed allegiance to the law. "I'm a firm believer, I guess, because of my background, in doing things by the law," he says. "I don't condone any activity in violation of the law."

Says the man who once burglarized houses? Bauman chuckles. "Well, that's an inconsistency," he admits. "What do you call it, an imponderable?"

In Bauman's world, some crimes are more serious than others. Clinton, for example, deserved impeachment much more than Nixon, whom Bauman considers one of the country's best presidents. Bauman, who met every president while he was publisher, with the exception of Jimmy Carter, had friends in the Nixon White House. He hired Pat Buchanan as an editorial writer when Buchanan graduated from Columbia University. Bauman recalls calling on Buchanan at the behest of St. Louis University's medical school, which was anxious about the fate of a promised $9 million federal grant. Buchanan shook the money loose, but there was a quid pro quo. Two years later, Buchanan's brother's admission application was rejected because of low grades. Buchanan called Bauman, Bauman called the head of the school and Buchanan's brother was admitted.

"I still feel good about Pat Buchanan," Bauman says. "He's my friend. He's a likable guy who's very, very, very bright. He has the courage of a bull. His character is impeccable. He has more knowledge on the issues, or as much, as any other (presidential) candidate. I think he lends an incalculable asset to the campaign. He raises issues that others don't think about or don't care about or don't know about."

Bauman is all for an informed citizenry, but he criticizes the performance of the Post. "The Post-Dispatch is not my kind of newspaper," he says. "My kind of newspaper serves the community and ... seeks out the community needs and serves them. The Post emphasizes what it thinks the world should be like. That's the big difference between the two papers. My paper sought to serve the community. We were concerned about the most minute discomfort of a human being. The Post's concerns are what the Post thinks the world should be like. They don't recognize what the world is like, I don't think. "Imagine St. Louis' is a valuable concept, but they overdo it. The reader can't absorb that kind of stuff every day."

Ironically, the Post continues to make money for Bauman's old employer. Under terms of the joint-operating agreement, Newhouse splits the profits of the Post until at least the end of 2034. Last year, Newhouse's take from St. Louis was $20.7 million.

And, in a sense, Bauman's legacy lives in the pages of the Post. It was Bauman who reluctantly hired Jerry Berger out of the public-relations field and gave him a column in the Globe. "The managing editor, George Killenberg, suggested we employ Berger," Bauman recalls. "Well, I thought he was talking in a sack. I didn't think he could do it." Bauman, of course, was wrong. Berger turned out to be as big a circulation-booster for the Globe as he is for the Post. But Berger isn't necessarily Bauman's idea of a model journalist.

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