Whitman was hired as a copy editor by the New York Times in 1951. Eventually he pioneered the personalized obituary and became known for his obituary writing.
Whitman's Communist affiliations
Subpoenaed by the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee during its investigation of Communists in the media in Nov. 1955, Whitman testified before the Senate in January 1956. Whitman was implicated in Winston Burdett's testimony before the subcommittee in July 1955. Whitman staunchly refused to name other people as Communists and he was indicted in Dec. 1956 for contempt of Congress. Under tough questioning from subcommitte counsel J.G. Sourwine Whitman admitted his own involvement with the Communist Party from 1935-1948. He also told Sourwine he was a member of a cell with "perhaps a half-dozen members" at the New York Herald Tribune when he worked there.