Paul Harvey (RIP)

 O29 Network Harvey Photos Paul Paul Harvey, the famed radio broadcaster, has died. He was 90. When I was in elementary school, my brother and I loved listening to Harvey's "The Rest of the Story" news segments. I only recently realized that his deadpan delivery of quirky, surprise-ending stories were an important early influence on me and my taste for the unusual.

Good day, Paul.
Paul Harvey obit and recent profile from the Washington Post


  1. Paul Harvey, June 23, 2005:

    We didn’t come this far because we’re made of sugar candy. Once upon a time, we elbowed our way onto and across this continent by giving smallpox-infected blankets to Native Americans. That was biological warfare. And we used every other weapon we could get our hands on to grab this land from whomever.

    And we grew prosperous. And yes, we greased the skids with the sweat of slaves. So it goes with most great nation-states, which–feeling guilty about their savage pasts–eventually civilize themselves out of business and wind up invaded and ultimately dominated by the lean, hungry up-and-coming who are not made of sugar candy.

    Paul Harvey, good day.

    I said “good day,” sir.

  2. The guy was either one of the world’s biggest prevaricators, or the most gullible person on the planet. He should have been put out to pasture decades ago.

  3. #2 MRJM

    Sounds about right to me. History isn’t a cuddly place.

    Another wise man once said:

    “You won. All right? You came in and you killed them and you took their land. That’s what conquering nations do. It’s what Caesar did, and he’s not going around saying, “I came, I conquered, I felt really bad about it.” The history of the world isn’t people making friends. You had better weapons, and you massacred them. End of story.”

  4. I’ve known for awhile that he was a bit on the nutjob end. but at the same time, I kinda get that mentality. the world is a bitch, and unless you are a bastard you will get crushed by another bastard.

    but I am young so I know he is wrong.

    but I still remember hearing him on the radio when I was as young as 2. My father would tune him in at lunch during the summers, when he was off from teaching. It was an iconic voice from my early childhood, now passed.

    I tried to hate the man when I leaned of his views, but his voice just wouldn’t let me do it.

  5. I once met Paul Harvey. He seemed old at the time, but I just did the calculation and he was only 46. Guess I’m the old one now.

  6. I was actually thinking this week about why I honestly don’t like Ira Glass and a few other modern radio story tellers: The old school guys actually had tons more positivity and variety in their show. I’ll listen to a This American Life and thing “That was good…” then I’ll listen to Studs Terkel, Jean Shepherd and Paul Harvey and think “Wow, this is excellent…”

    Radio needs more folks like Paul Harvey.

    And now, page 2…


  7. I read so many conclusions that have no bearing on reality here… I guess that a wild imagination is a prerequisite to the appreciation of all ‘wonderful things’.

    Nevertheless, the story of all the conquerors never ends the way Harvey or the ‘other wise man’ describe. What really happens is that those one once oppressed revolt and destroy their oppressors.

    Rome was left as a collection of cities-states that took a long time to regain any significance and Italy nowadays, as nice as it is, is more anecdotal than anything else.

    Let’s pass on Greece, everybody did. France is now the kitchen of the World and not much more. Britannia, the mightiest not one century ago, is now a poodle kept on leach by it former colony, hiccuping its pitiful existence at the margin of Europe and in the basement of History…

    Americas facade is cracking so fast and so widely already: don’t get too comfy in your macho illusion of power guys.

    R.I.P. Mr Harvey. If you brought marvels in David’s imagination then you’re excused for being a common, lazy, prick-for-brains commentator at times: stuff happens.

  8. *That’s* what I miss – his opinion on the unfolding financial crisis/debacle.

    It’s unfortunate that some of the people in this thread go on auto-hate when a conservative passes away. Somebody might dance on your grave someday.

  9. In 2005, Harvey said the United States should use nuclear weapons in Afghanistan and Iraq. After recalling the use of atomic bombs during World War II, Harvey lamented that “we sent men with rifles into Afghanistan and Iraq and kept our best weapons in their silos.”

  10. I’ve only heard this guy once or twice while on vacation. More of an FM guy or something. But I find the notion that one is only allowed to express positive ideation about this guy upon his passing to be odious. Certainly, he had an exceptional opportunity to express himself, and his mentations are certainly on the public record. Some of the ideas that I have now heard him express were wrong in the Buddhist sense. Both factually wrong, and harmful to society to promulgate. He was an ally of power and a shallow moralizer. Such a willingly public man had no entitlement to a pass upon his passing as the ordinary man does.

  11. In an insistent tone, he had disinformation on the topic of UFOs: “They are ours.”
    Too bad.

    /can’t get weepy

  12. #16 Oh, please. When someone like, say, Michael Moore finally goes, you don’t think the right-wing will for one minute will pause to reflect on the man before tearing him to shreds with absolute glee? As Signaljammer (#20) correctly summed it up: Harvey’s views are part of the public record and his whole career was about commentary. It’s all fair game. I think we can all separate compassion for a human being now gone and the tone and substance of his views (and keep in mind he was 90, so it’s not like this was a tragic and unexpected end: he lived a longer life than most people). Discussing his views on his passing is not dancing on his grave, it’s part of discourse and I’d hazard to guess that Harvey himself would actually approve of this

  13. He was my father’s mother’s cousin, or my first cousin twice removed (I think). I never met him and my grandmother, according to family stories, couldn’t stand him.

  14. I stopped listening to him around 1975 when I realized what a right-wing stooge he was. Are you folks implying he changed?

  15. It was really jarring to see his picture just now. I grew up listening to him on the way to school, and always pictured him to look similar to my great uncle Harvey (because of the name and the similarity in voice) who was rather large and bald. I knew he wouldn’t actually look like my uncle, but these are the musings of a 7-year-old kid. In any case, I didn’t agree with many of his views, but he will always invoke nostalgia in me. So RIP, Paul Harvey.

  16. “And hear this please. In Western Afghanistan, where NATO forces are involved in some of the deadliest fighting since January, among the 136 dead this morning suspect Taliban. But there are others, 51 villagers, mostly women and children. Might not the news media put a stop to such pulled punches wars as this, if we would just desist from categorizing civilians. It was civilians, for goodness sake, who decapitated New York City. Since the invention of the aerial bomb five wars ago, there have been no civilians.”

  17. i had to listen to paul harvey while sitting in a dentist’s chair. me, with my mouthful of problems, and my dentist, with hands the size of hams.

    it always amazed me how he worked the advertising into the show.

    err, nevermind… 92.5% of you bb demographic weren’t even alive in 1972.

  18. I enjoyed Paul Harvey as a masterful spinner of tall yarns — as long as you understood that distinction and didn’t mistake him for a hardfaced factbreaker and chuckled at the numerous implausibilities he poured out, you were in for a treat.

    All the “and that’s the rest of HIS story” I’m seeing across the Web was predictable.

  19. I too loved to listen to Paul Harvey’s soothing voice when I was a young boy. Favorite moment, but really a parody — Harry Shearer did a great impression of Paul Harvey on The Simpsons, and you just hear a snippet: “”And that little boy who nobody liked grew up to be… Roy Cohn. And now you know… the REST of the story.”

    RIP PH. Good day.


  20. I actually hadn’t thought about Harvey in many years and somehow didn’t hear of his apparently racist bent. What a big bummer.

  21. I’m sorry but this guy is a leech.

    This is the first time I ran across a ‘news’ show where the news was intentionally indistinguishable from the advertising.

    He may have had an interesting style and interesting stories but he was also a slimy bastard with no integrity.

  22. Paul Harvey, good day.

    I said “good day,” sir.

    I second the above. I grew up with him and my parents listened to him too. It is surprising to see the above “slimy” comments of someone who cannot possibly have an understanding of the early history of radio. The comment just shows some of the nastiness and lack of respect that exists in the world today.

  23. Paul Harvey was slightly better than ipecac, IMHO. It’s nice to know that Death didn’t miss him either.

  24. He talked to me once. Freaked me out.

    I was a 19-year-old soldier stretched out on my bunk in a U.S. Army barracks, scheduled to ship out the next day to Korea where a war was raging, a war that to this day is euphemistically called a “conflict” by journalists and hack historians. The guy in the next bunk had a radio tuned to a station that broadcast a spiel by this guy I had never heard of, Paul Harvey.

    He pitched the war as the most important battle between the forces of Good and Evil since Lucifer was cast out of Heaven. And he spoke, he said, “to the young soldier waiting to ship out and wondering what this war that he’s been called upon to fight is all about.” And then he heatedly damned communism, both home and abroad, and cheered me on to glorious battle.

    I had to go outside and walk around for a few minutes…

    Twenty years later the Army tried to draft Paul Harvey, Jr to assist in the battle against the dreaded forces of communism that Paul Harvey Sr had raged against for two decades. Papa tried to shit a brick! There was no fucking way that Junior was ever going to hear a shot fired in anger. Daddy suddenly decided that the Vietnam war was wrong, and that Junior would go to Canada if he had to, but there was no way he was going to goddamn Vietnam.

    Hypocritical pig!

  25. Paul Harvey was essentially a storyteller and moralist. If you don’t think it’s hard to constantly come up with new material on the kind of schedule he maintained, try doing it for a few months. It’s therefore not surprising that he tended to fall back on “the old verities,” most of which are neither old nor verities. What they are is a body of reliably familiar tropes and narrative conventions that make it easier to reshape awkwardly random news reports into smooth little homiletic stories.

    Darren @8, IMO it’s a warped and oversimplified view of things — the history of the world frequently involves people making friends — but thank you for reminding me of that speech. I had my head full of Paul Harvey’s voice when I came across it just now, and having my reading ear spot the source and slam my internal audio track over to the right woice was like taking a sharp turn at sixty miles an hour.

  26. @#31 You’re going to have to expand on that. Who are you seconding exactly, and what lack of understanding of the early history of radio are you referring to? Because Harvey was old and was part of an earlier history, he gets some sort of pass? I guess I just don’t understand your critique.

    And as for the so-called nastiness and lack of respect today, I’m not sure how one thing equals the other. Holding someone accountable to what they have said as part of the public record is nasty? Harvey chose a public life, and again, specifically as someone who comments for a living. Words are everything in this case. I don’t think anyone here is diminishing his impact or influence, nor is anyone here happy that he’s dead. But to insist that to criticize Harvey is to speak ill of the dead is a bit over-the-top, and in particular in this forum. I’m sure there’s plenty of glowing tributes out there. Boingboing is one place where people seem free to just speak their mind, kind of like what Paul Harvey did.

    And as for the supposed “nastiness and lack of respect that exists in the world today”, all I can point to is someone of Harvey’s generation, someone of a more liberal persuasion as it were. I recall Andy Rooney’s “eulogy” of Kurt Cobain on 60 Minutes. Let’s just say, this thread has been a loving tribute in comparison (I’ll try to find a copy or transcript of Rooney’s text: it was quite nasty).

  27. I had a very long bus ride to elementary school (and later junior high) each morning, as I lived way out in the woods. This voice was with us every day on that bus.

  28. Back in 1988, I disagreed with just about everything Ronald Reagan was about, but I still went to a Republican rally (for Bush during his campaigh) just to hear him speak.

    That’s what I felt about Paul Harvey. That voice, that way of telling a story, even when later I might find out that he had fallen back on some urban legend or was a bit of a wacko, that’s what I’ll remember him for.

  29. “Somebody might dance on your grave someday.”

    I would hope by the time I’m gone some racist piece of crap, some Palin worshiper would see me as enough of a threat that they would hate me on that level. I have no need for the adoration of pigs.

    Bring the hate. If you voted for Bush, if you support a racist war, if you think the suffering of the wealthy outweighs that of the impoverished, bring it. I am your enemy, and I wouldn’t hesitate to kick you and piss on your grave.

  30. Paul Harvey reminds me of my grandparents’ generation. This probably does some wise people a disservice, but many of The Greatest Generation came out of WW II with a certainty that since they had decisively won a fight for justice, their decisions must all be just. Maybe once life was simple enough that all important subjects could be covered by only 2 sides, but I doubt it.

  31. Deano @ #31:

    First, I think you misunderstand the tone of MRJM’s post (or else I do).

    Second, your comment:

    The comment just shows some of the nastiness and lack of respect that exists in the world today.

    made me think of going to the doctor with my father when he had major medical issues. I asked the doctor a few very basic questions. Every time, my dad would reach over to shush me. Don’t ask the important doctor-man any questions, child. That would be rude. He’s the doctor; he knows what he’s doing. (I’d already done the research and knew that the doctor didn’t, in fact, know what he was doing…but I digress.)

    It is true that current generations are more likely to ask questions, speak up when they believe they have something worthwhile to say, and not *automatically* respect someone older than they are. This is not “rude.” This is progress.

    I’m a Boomer, btw. So when I talk about current generations, I mean almost everyone who isn’t over 70.

  32. I always enjoyed hearing Paul Harvey’s weird little news segments, read in that somewhat intense and unique voice. It was always a fun listen, and I’ll miss him.

    1. you can write an appreciation of someone’s life that includes both their best and worst aspects.


  33. Back in the day we would listen to Paul for a few good laughs. There was one opening commentary that still sticks in my mind. I think it was 1976.
    For the real effect you have to envision the classic voice with the long iconic pauses for added effect.

    Today…… America……. Number 1 song…… Eric Clapton……. I Shot the Sheriff……. DISGUUUUSTING.

  34. @8 Darren Garrison:

    True, but I think the wise man was speaking more about how an inability to make peace with the worst moments in our history is preventing us from dealing with their consequences. The larger message, as I understood it, was that evil is a self-perpetuating cycle and guilt can act as an enabler. It is also notable that our wise man had no soul, and was speaking partially out of concern for his own safety.

    Harvey’s words, on the other hand, seem to be suggesting that we ought not only accept the ugly parts of our past, but emulate them. If we find this objectionable then our views are childish, lacking any lasting value, and we are asking to be conquered by people who are willing to do what we are not.

    I’m of the opinion that it is possible to accept the past without condoning it. As a nation, we got where we are today by doing some pretty admirable things and also some pretty atrocious things. It may be human nature, but acknowledging our flaws does not excuse us from trying to improve them. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with mourning historical wrongdoings as long as it does not interfere with our ability to fend off bear attacks.

    RIP, Paul Harvey. I disagreed with some of his views, but personal flaws and personal worth don’t cancel each other out.

  35. “The Rest of the Story” was and is a fine little radio tradition.

    Paul Harvey’s “newscasts” back in the late 60s and early 70s (when I was first exposed to them) were all too-often polarizing vindictive screeds aimed at anyone who dared to question the Vietnam war, dared to grow their hair long, in short dared to do anything that Paul Harvey disagreed with.

    The fact that he was such a popular and influential presence with so many Nixon “moral majority” Americans was IMO a big factor in the hatred that sprung up along generational lines and tore many many families all over the country, probably the greatest family schisms since the Civil War. I myself was a victim of that.

    I think that his legacy is one that is cruel and evil, and I hope he burns in hell.

    between family

  36. McCarthy supporter, early supporter of the Vietnam War. Other bad stuff as told above.

    What do you say when a bad man dies? “We disagreed, but he was talented and hardworking”?

    Doesn’t do it for me. I’m not the least bit sorry he’s dead, frankly, though his grave will not make my list of worldwide micturation targets.

  37. From the Chicago Sun-Times:
    [Harvey] made a career of praising Midwestern virtues at the expense of pop culture and the coasts, particularly New York. Appearing before a congressional subcommittee on offensive radio and TV broadcasts in 1952, Mr. Harvey condemned comedians “steeped in the nightlife of bawdy Manhattan” and claimed that their “girdle gags” had forced him “to turn off the radio to keep from blushing in front of my wife.”

    He once described his listeners as a “vast, decent, middle-income, middle-IQ audience,” and Mr. Harvey’s politics reflected the right-wing slant of mainstream America.

    When Sen. Joseph McCarthy came to Chicago in 1954, he was a guest at Mr. Harvey’s home.

    The man lived his values.

    But his choice of values made him a kind of Anti-Boing-Boing.

    — Mr.JM

  38. Yeah, celebrate the life of a compulsive liar and purported “journalist” who advocated the use of nuclear weapons on civilians. America will be both more ethical and better-informed without him.

    Good riddance.

  39. the same way Drugs “Anal Cysts Chickenhawk” Windbag will not warrant a good bladder voiding when he meets his dunghill. Save your bile for those that had real power and abused it.

  40. tak, it’s all snowed over and frozen right now! im waitin for the spring thaw, when uncle jessie can get all the warm, juicy goodness of my golden fluids! yee-fukkin-haw!

  41. Paul Harvey’s legacy only serves to prove two things: 1. that the news media was never objective and 2. that it was never free of invasive advertising posing as objective news.

  42. I’ve been astounded recently at how many people try to mask their snide, banal cruelty in pseudo-sophistication. Paul Harvey was on to something. America sems to her confidence & will to survive. Many of her citizens apparently want to limply surrender the country their fathers sacrificed to give them. No sophistication there. However corny or imperfect I prefer the way of Paul’s generation. R.I.P

  43. My mental association with Paul Harvery is just how awful his technical producer was.

    Once upon a time, it fell within my responsibilities to download and prep the daily segment for air each morning on the station at which I was employed. In addition to the total lack of EQ, compression, or even simple volume normalisation, the audio consistently had a full 50% DC bias. As someone with a bit of an obsessive-compulsive nature and reasonably high standards when it comes to audio production, I found myself rather irritated at having to clean up his audio each day.

    </radio-nerd rant>

  44. I was a Paul Harvey fan.

    Until August 9, 1974, that is.

    The second story, not the lead story, that day was that Richard Nixon had resigned the previous evening.

    It was at that point he I realized that he was not the fair journalist that he seemed to be. I was a Paul Harvey fan.

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