Warren Brookes Remembered

Warren Brookes Remembered

June 01, 2001

Warren Brookes Remembered

From the June 2001 CEI UpDate


Warren T. Brookes was a journalist of special renown. In the words of Thomas Bray of the Detroit News, Brookes “made a virtual career out of questioning the conventional wisdom of the so-called experts.” During his 16 years with the Boston Herald and Detroit News and as a nationally syndicated columnist, he “delighted precisely in the unconventional wisdom, not only about economics but also about a wide range of subjects.” The following was written by CEI President Fred L. Smith, Jr. and appeared in the January 1992 CEI UpDate.


When Warren Brookes died a world died with him. A world of knowledge and information, wit and wisdom, insight and analysis, and, most of all, charm. Warren was not like any other man, nor was he like any other columnist. He was a one-of-a-kind, and that is what makes his passing all the more terrible.


Whereas other columnists would typically spew forth great gushes of rhetoric and the catchy phrases that ring through the air, Warren provided the factual underpinnings for forceful arguments. Whereas other columnists attempted to persuade through their manipulation of words, Warren could overwhelm with a torrent of data that no force could resist. Given Warren’s immensely prolific nature—averaging three-plus columns a week—his immeasurable contribution to the cause of free enterprise and limited government was priceless. When Warren was on the prowl the truth could not hide.


It is no wonder then that the loss of Warren has hit so many of us so hard. His columns contained a wealth of information to be found nowhere else. If we needed to know the scoop on an important matter pertaining to economics or the environment, or a pithy encapsulation of an ongoing controversy, it was always to the Warren file that we turned. Chances are, if there was a story to be told—whether on Darman or dioxin, land-use or lead—Warren would already have told it.


I for one will miss the frequent telephone calls that typically began, “Fred! Guess what I’ve found out…” What followed was always astounding. And while free-market advocates would revel when the story finally made it into print, there is no doubt that somewhere a lonesome bureaucrat or “watermelon” (Warren’s own phrase for the greens: green on the outside, red on the inside) would be filled with the consternation of being exposed.


Warren and CEI had a special relationship, sharing information and the woeful tales that inevitably arise out of working in this town. When he stopped by the office, either for a meeting or just to chat (and perhaps to grab a soda), he was an instant celebrity among the staff, and rightly so, as he was one of the most important allies a group like CEI could ever have.


Most of all, however, Warren was a dear friend, an immensely talented comrade-in-arms who can never be replaced. I will miss him.


Fred L. Smith, Jr., (fsmith@cei.org) is President and Founder of CEI.