I. F. Stone, who died Sunday at 81, was a tireless reporter, mining the record of human enterprise to expose the facts of history, always independent, with an unquestioned integrity that attracted the respect of readers of many persuasions.
For 18 years, the I. F. Stone Weekly, published with his wife Esther, was priority reading because it plumbed depths that other journalists did not find time to explore. Facts from records unread by others lent credibility to his challenges to McCarthyism, his questions about American military commitments in Korea and Vietnam and his concern about the state of civil rights before many others understood the malignancy. His was the rare ability to ask the timely and penetrating question of leaders, forcing illumination into the obscurity that separates the pretense of some public figures from actuality.
He was not always wise, as was evident in some of his political judgments. He was a crusader as well as reporter, vocations that do not always mix well. He was best at holding high the record and demanding accountability of governments to that record. His role in strengthening that tradition will be his memorial among those who understand how essential accountability is to freedom.