It’s too bad Liz Smith‘s column no longer appears in a New York newspaper. Her pillar in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune was a direct hit on the last nail in Brooke Astor’s coffin. “Mrs. Astor would have given up all she owned not to have had this blot on her escutcheon,” Smith says. “It’s true, Brooke disapproved of Tony [Marshall]’s wife, Charlene; still, I think she’d have moved heaven and earth to keep this sordid story out of the courts and the newspapers. Brooke indeed might have been offended had she known of accusations against her only son; but she’d never have wanted this end result. Brooke was a vivacious, flirtatious, charmer of good will and philanthropy. She was nobody’s ideal mother and didn’t much want to be. But no matter the good intentions of those who helped restore her in her final days, she’d have given that rescue up if she’d realized the ultimate consequences. This is a true tragedy all the way around.” Smith has her critics and she has been critical of Rogues’ Gallery (even referring to its focus on one central figure in the Astor tragedy — Annette de la Renta — as “beyond the pale”). But she calls it as she sees it and has the courage to say it out loud — qualities increasingly lacking in the press these days.