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Pseudo-History of Events

Horace Greeley may have had it right for his 19th-century compatriots, but the proper direction for the ambitious voyagers of this century has too often been eastward. Just ask New Mexico's own Samuel Andrew Donaldson.

No one asked her, but Chloe Hampson Donaldson thinks she knows why her son strayed from the straight and narrow path: "Sam was always an obedient child until he went back east."

Politicians make the trek, and budding journalists have similar experiences. Happiness was not to be Sam Donaldson's until he had retreated within the beltway before there was a beltway to hunker down within. There, still wet behind the earphones, he went to work for a Washington television station in 1961; and there, still a loyal Westerner, he cast a vote for Barry Goldwater in 1964.

Three years was apparently not enough for Washington to work its magic on a fledgling newsman who barely eight years earlier had organized the Young Republicans of El Paso and welcomed a campaigning Richard Nixon to west Texas. However, a quarter of a century of the Washington high life has turned Chloe Donaldson's "obedient child" into an institution, obedient only to deadlines and his network bosses.

What happened? Twenty of his Washington years Mrs. Donaldson's second son spent in the employ of ABC News, 10 under the direction of Roone Arledge, erstwhile boy wonder of televised sport. The...

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