Salt of the Earth, Light of the Journalistic World: A Tribute to Robert Bartley

A tribute is in order to one of the finest journalists of the 20th Century. Robert J. Bartley (1937-2003), a Pulitzer Prize winner, was by no means perfect, but he was a light in the darkness when it comes to modern press. And while The Wall Street Journal will surely do their own tribute, I am moved enough to write a brief one myself.

His motto, “free men, free markets”, is a battle cry for many good Americans. Before there was Fox News and before there was Rush Limbaugh, there was Bob Bartley fighting for conservatism in the press. He blasted the character of Bill Clinton for eight years when the mass media ignored his character flaws. He rejected Keynesianism when the New York Times and Washington Post adopted it as their editorial lifeblood. He worked with the Reagan administration on matters of key economic policy that our nation still benefits from today. He taught Americans that they deserved tax cuts, and that tax cuts helped the overall economy, even as his liberal counterparts taught Americans that they ought to feel guilty for wanting lower taxes. He understood economics, and more importantly, he understood liberty.

Bartley was an evangelical Christian. He served on the board of The Bowery Mission, the second-established evangelical inner city mission in North America in NYC on the 19th c. and run by Christian Herald (the first was the Chicago mission) for many years.

For a Christian man to have made such an impact on so many people, and to have done so with such integrity and competence and character, is a demonstrable lesson I hope Christians can learn from. He was not content just to influence ONE, SMALL sphere of life. His was an extended faith that impacted people, families, institutions, and cultures.

He was a remarkable man and lived a remarkable career.

We need more Robert Bartley’s. His legacy will live on.