2016 – Elizabeth Drew

Elizabeth Drew, the journalist, author and presidential chronicler, delivered the Sixth Annual Culver Lecture at Simpson College on April 7, 2016. 

Drew is the author of 14 books, including Senator, her behind-the-scenes chronicle of spending the summer of 1978 with U.S. Senator John Culver as he worked to forge bipartisan consensus behind amendments to strengthen the Endangered Species Act. The Culver Public Policy Center is named in his honor.

The Sixth Annual Culver Lecture consisted of a conversation between Drew and Senator Culver’s son, former Iowa Governor Chet Culver.

Elizabeth Drew began her storied career in journalism in 1959 as a reporter for Congressional Quarterly. A graduate of Wellesley College, Drew was a Phi Beta Kappa with a major in political science. She served as Washington correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly (1967-73) and The New Yorker (1973-92) and has also written for Rolling Stone. She was a frequent guest on “Agronsky and Company” and hosted her own PBS interview program from 1971 to 1973. Drew was a regular panelist on Meet the Press and guest on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer. She questioned President Gerald Ford and Governor Jimmy Carter as a panelist for the first debate of the 1976 U.S. presidential election and moderated a debate among candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984.

Drew continues to appear on radio and television programs to share her insights on American politics and governance. She remains an active commentator and analyst in her sixth decade of covering politics, contributing in-depth articles on the 2016 presidential election campaign to The New York Review of Books

Her 1975 book, Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall, was a groundbreaking account of the Watergate scandal that remains indispensable reading. The book was re-issued by Overlook Press in 2015 with a new afterword.

Drew’s other books include: Portrait of an Election: The 1980 Presidential Campaign; On the Edge: The Clinton Presidency (1995); The Corruption of American Politics: What Went Wrong and Why (1999); Citizen McCain (2002); and Fear and Loathing in George W. Bush's Washington (2004). Her most recent book is Richard M. Nixon (2007).

Drew was chosen to give the Knight Lecture at Stanford University in 1997. She is a former director of the Council on Foreign Relations (1972–77).

Previous speakers for the Culver Lecture series include former U.S. Sen. George McGovern (2011), political commentator Mark Shields (2012), former New York Times court reporter Linda Greenhouse (2013), former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson (2014), and political consultant David Axelrod (2015).