The name Bigfoot tends to conjure blurry images of a tall, hairy creature with long arms, a slightly pointed head, and, well, big feet. The creature's name dates to the 1950s, but print evidence goes back to the early 1800s in reference to humans having monstrous feet.
In 1980, language commentator William Safire observed an off-kilter use of the name. Bigfoot, he noted, was being applied as "a jocular term for a columnist, editor, or journalism celebrity who deigns to mingle with the working stiffs." He later connected the origin of this slangy sense to "when Hedrick Smith of the New York Times, with his foot in a cast, joined the press plane in the 1980s campaign." Supposedly, a colleague jokingly called Smith "Bigfoot." Whatever the case, the name caught on as a designation for a celebrity reporter or columnist and has since extended to include other big shots in politics, business, and other playing fields.
The local people figured we were some big-deal campaign honcho and two press Bigfoots.
—Peter Tauber, The New York Times Magazine, 31 May 1987
He roams the West Wing alleys as a freelance. "I have a great job," he says convincingly. He is a frequent presence in Oval Office meetings, spending blocks of time with the president. "George [Stephanopoulos] really is the Bigfoot he's perceived to be because he spends so much time with the president," says a White House aide.
— Francis Wilkinson, Rolling Stone, 11 Aug. 1994
The perks of alpha bloggers—voluminous traffic, links from other bigfeet, conference invitations, White House press passes—are, in theory, bequeathed by a market-driven merit system.
— Steven Levy, Newsweek, 21 Mar. 2005
Additionally, the verb bigfoot stomped into American English with the meaning "to use one's power or status to treat (someone) in an overbearing or domineering way."
He was also a shameless air hog who would bigfoot any correspondent on any story at any time.
— Jon Katz, Rolling Stone, 14 Oct. 1993
If Daimler is contributing 57 percent of the stock market value to a merger and Chrysler 43 percent, it's pretty clear who is going to call the shots. And Daimler did indeed bigfoot Chrysler, not just in the new company's logo but everywhere. Headquarters would be in Stuttgart; it was a German "A.G.," not an American "Inc."
— Peter Schneider, The New York Times Magazine, 12 Aug. 2001