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Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale - of the Minows

By Laurie Bennett

September 11, 2009 at 10:53am

Here’s a scoop for the conspiracy theorists who frequent Muckety: The Minow family is reshaping America.

Twenty years ago, as a partner at the Chicago law firm Sidley Austin, Newton Minow followed up on a recommendation from his daughter Martha about one of her students. The firm hired a young intern named Barack Obama. While there, Obama met another Sidley Austin attorney named Michelle Robinson.

More recently, Martha Minow has advised the president about religion-based initiatives. Her father also has been a mentor to Obama, not only about politics and the White House, but about raising daughters.

Nell Minow
Nell Minow

Minow, 83, and his wife Josephine have three fabulously successful daughters - Martha, Nell and Mary.

Nell, the eldest, is an expert on corporate governance. As co-founder of the Corporate Library, a research firm, and Lens, an activist investment fund, her views are much sought after by business executives and board members, government officials and journalists.

Martha Minow recently became dean of Harvard Law School. She also has been nominated by Obama to be a director of the Legal Services Corporation, the federal organization that provides civil legal services to the poor. She and her father both clerked for Supreme Court justices - Martha for Thurgood Marshall and Newton for Frederick Vinson.

Martha Minow
Martha Minow

The third Minow daughter, Mary, is an attorney and librarian.

While the family’s achievements are most noted in the worlds of law and politics, the Minows have had a measurable impact on pop culture as well.

As chairman of the Federal Communications Commission during the Kennedy administration, Newton Minow described TV as a “vast wasteland.” The creators of one of the most wasted programs of the era, Gilligan’s Island, responded by naming their fictional tour boat the S.S. Minnow.

Minow later confided to law professor Robert M. Jarvis: “The S.S. Minnow has made me immortal. I had told my kids to put on my tombstone, ‘on to a vaster wasteland.’ I think I will amend it to say ‘on to a vaster wasteland on the S.S. Minnow.’”

Minow went on to chair PBS and is trustee emeritus of Chicago’s public television station, WTTW. Nell Minow has become a popular arbiter of film through her blog, Movie Mom.

Josephine Baskin Minow, meanwhile, is a trustee of Chicago’s Ravinia Festival and historical society. She is also author of a children’s book, Marty the Broken Hearted Artichoke.

The book, published in 1996 and aimed at toddlers, may have presaged the 2008 campaign:

This lesson the Chokes learned together:
‘We needn’t all have the same faces.
‘We’ve opened our minds.
‘To all different kinds
‘Other names, other creeds, other races.’

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1 Comments

  • #1.   Linda L Hill 04.22.2012

    Well, another well connected tie to Obama. I wonder if George Soros has any connection as well, I’ll bet there is? I wonder why this has not been discussed in the Media?

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