Friday, August 10, 2007

Reporter?s ?death car? to be in ?Newseum?

Ketchum newsman worked with assassinated reporter


By ANDY STINY
Express Staff Writer

Photo courtesy Arizona Republic-- Reporter Don Bolles died 11 days after his 1976 Datsun was blown up by six sticks of dynamite. He was investigating corruption in Phoenix.

When Don Bolles turned the ignition key in the little white 1976 Datsun, six sticks of dynamite taped underneath the car exploded.

The hard-nosed investigative reporter for the Arizona Republic newspaper was blown halfway out of the car. He died in a Phoenix hospital 11 days after the June 2, 1976, explosion in a Phoenix parking lot. Bolles was "set-up" like something out of a bad "film noir" movie with a phony meeting with a "source" who never showed-up.

The Datsun sat rusting in a Phoenix Police Department impound lot for 28 years. Now that car will go a long way in telling Bolles' story as a featured exhibit in the Newseum, the new $400-million news museum, opening in Washington, D.C., next fall.

The Newseum had planned to have the Bolles' "death car" be the centerpiece in the "Dateline Danger" exhibit depicting the risks involved in covering the news.

But now a gallery dedicated to Bolles will have the car and a video in which colleagues and family talk about the man who died doing his job. The exhibit deserved its own area, said Susan Bennett, the Newseum's deputy director.

"We think the Bolles' car tells a powerful story that journalists such as Don Bolles make in order to represent the truth," Bennett said in a telephone interview. "He tried to investigate crimes and criminals and paid the ultimate sacrifice for his work."

Bolles' widow, Rosalie Bolles Kasse, donated the car to Newseum. She wrote to the Republic saying she was glad her husband would be remembered as someone who "wanted to protect our constitutional rights at every level—state, local, federal."

The explosion that killed Bolles reportedly had a force equal to a million and a half pounds per square inch. With the exception of the door the car did not sustain tremendous damage, Bennett said.

"But when you open the door, there is great emptiness and devastation," she said.

Jeanette Reed, a Phoenix Police Museum historian, told the paper that she saw the car when it was still stored in Phoenix.

"It is an insult to life that someone had to die that way ... I don't know how anyone could have lived through it," Reed said.

The wrecked car, which has only had minimal cleaning, will help the public understand stories of journalistic courage, Bennett said. "Bolles' case is one of the most well-known cases of a journalist in this country paying the ultimate sacrifice—and that is paying with his life to pursue the truth."




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