RIP: Tom Phillips, Benefactor and Philanthropist. Responsible for My Career.

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Tom Philips was a great man whose generosity knew no bounds. He opened not only his then substantial pocketbook – having been a very savvy and successful entrepreneur – but also his own home with a single intent: to nurture a new generation of journalists who were not afraid to question the “conventional wisdom.”

His mission was to break the stranglehold that the Left Wing ideologues had on the national debate and in forming the “national consensus.”

He contributed his boundless energy to this life-goal which is eminently and essentially American: to help us foster a true political dialogue on the future of this country. To give us on the “other side” at least a fighting chance to have our views known.

I was at the time a (poorly paid) working journalist, the Editorial Page Editor of the Budapest Sun in Hungary, when Tom Phillips’ generosity and the late and very great Bob Novak’s keen eye identified me as someone worthy of his Journalism Fellowship in 1998.

I was working under a brilliant mentor at the Budapest Sun – Jim Michaels who was a former US Marine and the son of the then-Editor in Chief of Forbes Magazine – and from Jim I learned everything about journalism. Not the absurd “social active” journalism churning out ideological thugs from journalism schools across the country, but actual journalism which relies on honesty, humility, and a connection with your readers (customers).

I had been published plenty of times by the time I went to work for Jim Michaels, but it was Jim who kicked my ego in the face. I remember my first unsigned op-ed as editorial page editor. Maybe 1995. I submitted it to Jim who proceeded to turn it upside-down on its head. I had been too steeped in academia (useless grad school) and was thus unmoved by the need to appeal to the reader.

Jim ripped apart my op-ed and told me that I had “buried the lede.” “Do it over! Bring your point to the front! You have an obligation to the reader!” I was crestfallen because I thought I had written a tight piece putting those so-and-sos in their place.

For me at that time it was about settling scores rather than appealing to the reader.

To Jim, who was although a solid conservative, ideology didn’t matter. Journalism mattered. We had a several year tug-of-war at the Budapest Sun, but I am grateful to Jim Michaels for teaching me real, existing journalism.

And it was around this time I applied and was accepted as a Phillips Foundation Journalism Fellow with the topic of, “Abandoning American Values in Post-Cold War US Foreign Policy.” It was all about how the Clinton Administration botched the enormous opportunity presented by the end of the Cold War to promote actual American values rather than the bogus “woke” agenda of his cronies who are, disgustingly, still with us.

The opportunity of a lifetime – a peace dividend, which is definitionally conservative – was squandered by the world of Strobe Talbott and Richard Holbrooke and all of those thugs. Toby Gati. Hillary. All of them.

Tom Phillips and Bob Novak saw value in this and to them I am eternally grateful.

The young journalists with whom I shared a couch in those days at Tom Philips’ magnificent McLean, VA, house for his autumn Phillips Foundation Fellows Retreats are people you would easily recognize in today’s conservative media. Some are doing good work and some in my opinion have fallen short. It’s not easy to make a living as a scribbler. And some of them have jumped on the Con. Inc. grift.

But that is always the risk.

Tom Phillips was all about investing in possibilities. I remember returning to several of the new classes of Phillips Fellows as an alumni and being surprised by some who were chosen. He did not invest solely in conservatives. He invested in people in whom he believed – guided by his advisors like the late John Farley, who I loved dearly and who continued to give me guidance for years including on how to start the Ron Paul Institute – and he did not have a rigorous ideological litmus test.

By the way, there are some who claim that I was not an actual journalist for some reason I have never understood. But through college and into my first professional job it was always working on a newspaper. Yes, I did spend eleven years on Capitol Hill working for Ron Paul, but I brought my fifteen years of journalism experience – including on-the-ground war reporting – to the job and it made me a far better Congressional staffer than had I been just an ideologue hired for my fealty for this or that party.

Read any of his powerful statements entered into the Congressional Record that were drafted by me informed by my journalistic background.

At the time Ron Paul had a rule that he would never hire anyone with Capitol Hill experience. He was way ahead of his time, but it was because he wanted people whose loyalty was to freedom and America rather than the swamp – a term that only later came to be fashionable.

Tom Philips was also way way way ahead of his time. He put his money where his mouth was. It took perhaps a quarter of a century after Tom’s investment in what can only be considered “alternative media” for the concept to not only take hold, but to wildly surpass the influence of the mainstream corporate media.

There is no direct connection that I know, but if you celebrate the brilliant success of a Tucker Carlson single-handedly defeating the mainstream drones like St. George slaying the dragon, you should thank Tom Phillips, whose vision and generosity one and a half generations ago paved the way for the relative freedom we are enjoying today.

It all started with Tom Phillips. One of the most unsung American heroes of our time.

Rest in peace, Mr. Phillips. Thank you for the wonderful opportunities your generosity provided me.

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