The Press: Mayflower Punch

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For Christmas in 1950, Columnist Drew Pearson got a pair of miniature boxing gloves from his secretaries. It was an appropriate gift. Two weeks earlier, in the Sulgrave Club, he had been attacked by Senator Joe McCarthy. Last week, in the lobby of Washington's Mayflower Hotel, Columnist Pearson was punched again. His attacker: Washington Lawyer Charles Patrick Clark, $75,000-a-year lobbyist for Franco's Spain, who has been one of Pearson's prime targets in the past few months. In detailed columns, Pearson charged Clark with using undue influence to get Maine's Senator Owen Brewster and Brooklyn's Congressman Eugene Keogh to sponsor aid to Franco. There seemed little doubt that these and other Pearson columns had contributed to Brewster's election defeat (see NATIONAL AFFAIRS).

As Pearson reported the fight, he was just plunking an after-luncheon mint into his mouth when Clark bounded over to him. Said Pearson: "It looked as if he'd been hiding, lying in wait for me. He said, 'Hey you, I want to talk to you.' I stopped . . . and he whammed me a helluva jolt on the neck." After that, according to Pearson, he was too busy "reeling around" to see Clark's blows, but recalls that Clark was "yelling . . . 'Take that for Brewster, take that for Keogh.' " Not so, said Clark: "I hit him in the eye with my left, swung with my right, missed . . . and yelled at him, 'This is for Forrestal and Brewster and Vaughan and Keogh and myself, you son of a bitch!'"

Still fingering the bruise on his neck, Pearson bustled over to the office of the U.S. District Attorney and swore out an assault warrant against Clark. Flushed with victory, Clark later pranced about outside the Mayflower's main entrance, re-enacting the battle for the hotel doorman and passing Senators. Next day he appeared in court, pleaded innocent to Pearson's assault charge. As for Pearson, whose spaniel-like manner is in contrast with his terrier-type reporting, he got some sound advice from his cook, Margaret Brown. Advised Margaret: grab your assailant by the ears and pull his head down before he can get in the first wallop.