Paul Greenberg (1937–2021)

Journalist Paul Greenberg of Little Rock (Pulaski County) was a nationally recognized syndicated columnist and author whose writing appeared in newspapers across the country. He was the longtime editor of the Pine Bluff Commercial’s editorial page and later served as editorial page editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Greenberg won the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing and was later a Pulitzer finalist and Pulitzer jurist.

Paul Greenberg was born on January 21, 1937, in Shreveport, Louisiana. His parents were Sarah Ackerman Greenberg and Ben Greenberg, owners of a second-hand shoe store and a series of small businesses on Texas Avenue in Shreveport. He had an older sister, Lillian, and an older brother, Irving.

Living with his family above the family shoe store, he attended C. E. Byrd High School, graduating in 1954. After two years at Shreveport’s Centenary College, Greenberg majored in journalism and history at the University of Missouri in Columbia, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1958 and master’s degree in 1959 before pursuing postgraduate studies at Columbia University in New York City.

Greenberg came to Arkansas in 1962 to become editorial page editor for the Pine Bluff Commercial, owned by the Freeman family. In Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), Greenberg enjoyed a very close working relationship with publisher Ed Freeman.

Greenberg was the editorial page editor of the Pine Bluff Commercial from 1962 to 1992, although he took a hiatus in 1966–67, during which he wrote editorials for the Chicago Daily News. In recognition of his 1968 Pine Bluff Commercial editorials, Greenberg was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing in 1969. (Greenberg’s fellow Pulitzer Prize winners that year included the Los Angeles Times for its exposé of the Los Angeles, California, city government; William Tuohy for his Vietnam War coverage; and Norman Mailer for his nonfiction/historical novel The Armies of the Night.) Greenberg was a Pulitzer finalist in 1978 and 1986, and served as a Pulitzer jurist in 1984 and 1985.

He received many other honors, including the 1964 Grenville Clark Editorial Award, the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ 1981 Distinguished Writing Award for Commentary, the 1983 University of Missouri School of Journalism Medal of Honor, Walker Stone Awards in 1985 and 1986, the 1987 H. L. Mencken Award, the 1988 William Allen White Award, and the 1988 Arkansas Associated Press Editorial Writing Award.

Greenberg is often noted as the person who dubbed Bill Clinton “Slick Willie.” Greenberg first used the term to describe Clinton in 1980 (early in Clinton’s time as governor of Arkansas), and it would follow Clinton throughout his political career, even during his presidency.

Greenberg, who described himself as “an ideologically unreliable conservative,” became much in demand as a commentator and lecturer nationwide and regularly provided political analysis on television. In 2015, he phased out of supervisory work as the editorial page editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette but continued to write editorials. His syndicated columns were carried across the country and online. Greenberg was author of the books Entirely Personal, No Surprises: Two Decades of Clinton-Watching, and Resonant Lives: Fifty Figures of Consequence.

He was married to Carolyn Levy Greenberg from 1964 until her death in 1995; they had two children, Daniel and Ruth. In 2015, Greenberg married Sarah Brooke Malloy.

Greenberg died on April 6, 2021. He was buried in Oakland Jewish Cemetery in Little Rock.

For additional information:
Bowden, Bill. “Former Editorial Page Writer Greenberg Dies.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, April 8, 2021, pp. 1A, 5A.

Greenberg, Paul. Entirely Personal. Oxford: University Press of Mississippi, 1992.

———. No Surprises: Two Decades of Clinton-Watching. Dulles, VA: Brassey’s Inc., 1996.

———. Resonant Lives: Fifty Figures of Consequence. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1991.

Murrell, L. C. “Greenberg Remembered.” Pine Bluff Commercial, April 8, 2021, pp. 1, 3.

“Paul Greenberg.” (accessed October 22, 2020).

Stewart, Shea. “Greenberg to Relinquish Helm of Editorial Page.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, July 25, 2015, pp. 1A, 8A.

Nancy Hendricks
Garland County Historical Society


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