Frank McCulloch 1920-2018

It is unfortunate that University of Nevada alum Frank McCulloch at his death is likely to be remembered for two things he would rather have forgotten.

In 1971, billionaire Howard Hughes called McCulloch and told him an alleged Hughes autobiography was a fraud. McCulloch did not believe him and, after reading the book in manuscript, he attested to the authenticity of the book, which was later exposed as a hoax.

In 1983, when McCulloch was executive editor of the Sacramento Bee, the Bee and two sister newspapers published an article reporting suspected skimming at a Carson City’s casino when it was owned by U.S. Sen. Paul Laxalt and his family. Laxalt sued. McCulloch complicated things when he went beyond the reporting and told the Bee ombudsman flatly that “the skimming took place,” which the story had not alleged. The Bee settled the case rather than take it to trial.

Those two blunders, however, do not—or should not—obscure a lifetime of great reporting and editing. One of the reasons McCulloch was called by the publisher of the Hughes book was that he had covered Hughes like a blanket after other reporters had given up trying to contact the reclusive billionaire.

McCulloch, a Fernley native, reported from Vietnam for Time and Life, drawing criticism from President Johnson, and was managing editor of the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Examiner.

In retirement, he arranged a posthumous Pulitzer award for reporter Edward Kennedy, who had been fired by the Associated Press in 1945 for accurately reporting the German surrender before others.

A more detailed obituary can be found on our Newsview blog.