Alexander Cockburn, a prominent left-wing columnist and journalist, passed away at the age of 71 after a long battle with cancer.
The Huffington Post reports that Cockburn’s death was announced by Jeffrey St. Clair, his friend and journalism partner, who wrote the news on Counterpunch, the website they ran together.
Cockburn first became famous as a pioneering media critic who wrote a column for the Village Voice about the press for ten years. After this, he spent 30 years as a columnist for The Nation, though his columns were also syndicated by Creators’ Syndicate.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation, stated of Alexander Cockburn:
“He was an extraordinarily provocative, polemical, elegant columnist and writer. And he certainly was someone who never wavered in dissenting from what was the conventional line.”
The radical left-wing writer did not tell many people about his battle with cancer, because he did not want sympathy from friends and readers, according to St. Clair. He wrote, “[Cockburn’s] body was deteriorating, but his prose remained as sharp, lucid and deadly as ever.”
Vanden Heuvel also stated:
“His range was extraordinary. He could write about fox hunting, and he could write about foreign intervention. We had disagreements. And it was an honor, in many ways, to join the growing list of people Alexander would attack with his pen.”
Alexander Cockburn also wrote several books, according to The Los Angeles Times, such as “Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press” (1998, with St. Clair), “Corruptions of Empire” (1988), “End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate” (2006, with St. Clair), and “A Short History of Fear” (2009).
While he usually aligned himself with the left, Alexander’s opinions occasionally angered his leftist allies, like his thoughts on global warming, which aligned with the far right. Cockburn write in 2007 of “our supposed human contribution to global warming.”
Cockburn often feuded with Christopher Hitchens, who was a fellow British expatriate and one-time friend, over a variety of polarizing issues, reports The New York Times. After Hitchens passed away last year, the leftist writer did not mince words when remembering him on Counterpunch, stating:
“He courted the label ‘contrarian,’ but if the word is to have any muscle, it surely must imply the expression of dangerous opinions. Hitchens never wrote anything truly discommoding to respectable opinion and if he had he would never have enjoyed so long a billet at Vanity Fair.”
Alexander Cockburn is survived by daughter Daisy Cockburn, two brothers (Andrew and Patrick Cockburn), as well as many nephews and nieces, including actress Olivia Wilde, daughter to Andrew Cockburn.