Alexander Cockburn, the fiery commentator usually found on the far left of politics, has died.
He often was compared to Christopher Hitchens. Here's one more comparison: Both of these guys were radical leftists and proud of it except for one key issue. For Cockburn, it was global warming. He didn't believe in it. For Hitchens, it was the Iraq War. He thought it was a swell idea. Both of them had been adored by their audiences -- right up to this breach. Then a lot of people turned on them.
Alexander Cockburn, the radical and acerbic journalist who had written longtime columns in both the conservative Wall Street Journal and the leftist outlet the Nation, died Friday in Germany. He was 71.
The influential writer had been fighting cancer, according to his editor, Katrina vanden Heuvel.
Unlike another prominent writer, Christopher Hitchens, with whom he had often been compared, Cockburn did not share the story of his illness. It was a rare quiet move in a career characterized by a thirst for public debate.
For 28 years, Cockburn wrote the Beat the Devil column in the Nation. His last column for the publication will appear July 30.
"Alexander reveled in being a troublemaker, and his provocative, polemical, elegant style usually engaged us and his reporting and analysis opened windows onto under-unreported news," Vanden Heuvel, the Nation's editor and publisher, said in an email to The Times. "I often felt I wasn't doing my job right if we didn't get a dozen or so subscription cancellations as a result of some Cockburn column."