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The Washington Post

Marino de Medici, dean of Washington overseas correspondents, dies at 89


Marino de Medici, an Italian journalist who reported from Washington for greater than 1 / 4 century, turning into dean of the overseas press corps and distinguishing himself as a gimlet-eyed observer of American politics, died Nov. 15 at his residence in Winchester, Va. He was 89.

The trigger was most cancers, mentioned his spouse, Nicki Furlan de Medici.

Mr. de Medici arrived in the US in 1954 as a college scholar within the Fulbright students program, an initiative championed by U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright (D-Ark.) within the wake of World Battle II to foster worldwide understanding.

Mr. de Medici went on to spend almost his complete profession as an interpreter of American life for Italian readers, principally as a Washington-based overseas correspondent for Il Tempo, a center-right newspaper headquartered in Rome. He coated presidents from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan, the successes of the American democratic custom and the stains on it.

“The position of a overseas correspondent,” Mr. de Medici informed Nationwide Journal in 1985, “is not only to report the straight information however to make clear, analyze and clarify what’s going on within the U.S. and to interpret its significance and which means to his nation and the remainder of the world. He turns into a participant in a complicated recreation and influences coverage.”

By the point he retired, the New York Times reported, Mr. de Medici had been reporting from Washington longer than every other member of town’s overseas press corps, which on the time included 500 accredited journalists from 60 international locations.

He coated the civil rights motion, traveled to Southeast Asia to report on the Vietnam Battle, and chronicled the Watergate scandal for an Italian readership higher acquainted than People with authorities instability.

As revelations of the scandal pushed President Richard M. Nixon towards resignation, “I discovered it troublesome to elucidate to Italians,” Mr. de Medici informed the Instances, “that it was not a political maneuver to take over the White Home however an ethical, constitutional and judicial matter the place the ultimate final result was not dictated by politics however by the complete power of the legislation.”

Mr. de Medici took occasional detours from his Washington project to cowl world affairs, together with coups in Latin America. However he appeared most at residence within the U.S. capital, the place he lived for years, and the place he filed his dispatches from the Nationwide Press Constructing.

One advantage of being a overseas correspondent was distance from one’s editor. “When you’re lazy,” he joked, “you possibly can simply rewrite The Washington Put up and no one would discover it.” However Mr. de Medici took satisfaction in his position as not solely a scribe but in addition an analyst of democracy.

“I really like American politics — the interplay of politics with public opinion,” he informed the Instances. “Within the remaining evaluation, it’s public opinion that decides, and that’s uniquely American.”

Marino Romano Pietro Lorenzo Celso de Medici was born in Rome on Might 16, 1933. He claimed no ties to the Florentine dynasty whose title he shared, though he as soon as seemingly pulled off the sale of a property in the US by passing as a Medici prince. Many Italians understand People as blind to historical past, a popularity that Mr. de Medici’s actual property brokers confirmed after they referred to him as “de Medicini.”

Mr. de Medici’s father was a noncommissioned officer within the Italian navy, and his mom was a homemaker. Throughout World Battle II, Mr. de Medici lived for a interval with an aunt and uncle in Rome earlier than fleeing town’s deprivations to hitch his dad and mom within the Romagna area, not removed from the German defensive positions often called the Gothic line.

He was 11, he wrote in a recollection of the warfare, when he skilled an occasion that he mentioned stood out in his reminiscence “like a large boulder.”

“I used to be fortunately pedaling together with my books in my backpack, making good time with an previous bicycle that I had borrowed from the proprietor of the farm,” he wrote. “Abruptly, I heard a screaming roar at my again that prompted me to cease and look behind me. After which I noticed it, a black airplane spewing sparks from its wings. These sparks have been bullets that have been raining down on the street.” It was an American airplane.

Mr. de Medici was working for the Rome-based newspaper Il Messaggero when he was awarded his Fulbright scholarship to review in the US. He acquired a bachelor’s diploma in journalism from the College of Washington in 1955 and a grasp’s diploma, additionally in journalism, from the College of California at Berkeley in 1963.

After acquiring his undergraduate diploma, Mr. de Medici returned to Italy and started working for ANSA, the nation’s main information company, which despatched him again to the US to open a Washington bureau in 1960. 4 years later, he turned a Washington correspondent for Il Tempo.

At first, he recalled, he didn’t slot in amongst American reporters, with their salty method and slovenly gown. “I used to be a younger, inexperienced reporter coming to a rustic that, for me, was an incredible cathedral of journalism,” he told the Times. “I wore cologne and a gold chain they usually thought me very unusual.”

Mr. de Medici retired from Il Tempo in 1987. He later returned to Rome to function communications director for the Worldwide Fund for Agricultural Improvement, an company of the United Nations. In 1998 he settled in Winchester, the place he taught at Shenandoah College. He continued writing for Italian publications and the Northern Virginia Every day.

Mr. de Medici’s marriage to Marianne Bengtson resulted in divorce.

Survivors embrace his spouse of 38 years, the previous Nicki Furlan, and their two daughters, Laura de Medici and Marina de Medici, all of Winchester; and three grandchildren.

Mr. de Medici was the writer of the guide “SCRIBE: 30 Years as a Foreign Correspondent in America,” in addition to a guide in Italian about Donald Trump and the dangers Mr. de Medici believed the previous president posed to democracy.

After years of providing Italians an insider’s view of Washington, he provided People an outsider’s understanding of their nation, one which had turn out to be his, too.

The US is “turning into much less and fewer of the democracy that I knew, that I admired and that I needed to expertise” when he first got here right here, he told the Northern Virginia Daily in 2020.

However in previous “crises of historical past,” America “all the time emerged … and have become stronger than earlier than,” he added. “It’s going to have that once more, I’m certain. However now we have to shut this abominable chapter of the worst presidency within the historical past of the US. And who can say that with extra confidence than a foreigner who is aware of this nation very properly?”

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