WASHINGTON – Pete Yost, a retired Associated Press investigative reporter with a fierce, determined style of interviewing that contrasted with his low-key, modest personality, died Tuesday night at the age of 73.
He covered many of the biggest stories of his time and was known throughout Washington journalism and political circles as a dogged investigator who didn’t put up with spin and shading the truth.
“I remember thinking when I joined the bureau that Pete was exactly the kind of character I expected to find in a Washington newsroom,” said Julie Pace, the AP's Washington bureau chief. “He was a fierce competitor, an expert in whatever he was covering, and a bit intimidating to a new reporter until you realized how generous he was with all of his skill and expertise.”
Sandy K. Johnson, a former AP Washington bureau chief who worked with Yost for 25 years, remembers him as “a fearsome member of AP’s investigative cadre” who covered stories ranging from the longstanding search for Jimmy Hoffa’s killers to the Clinton-Lewinsky investigation. "I will never forget his expletive-laden interrogations that terrified legions of sources and awed his colleagues,” she said.
That interview style was remembered vividly by his coworkers and his sources.
“In 48 years as an AP journalist, I had never seen a reporter as determined as Pete Yost. God help anyone who tried to lead him astray,” said retired colleague Larry Margasak.
After hearing one of his more animated interviews, former AP colleague Connie Cass was amazed “anyone would talk to a source that way.”
“But I quickly learned that despite his sometimes rough language, sources kept taking Pete’s calls,” she said. “They respected him because even if the story was unflattering, Pete would treat them fairly and get the details right.”