Remembering Daniel Schorr, 1916-2010

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Legendary NPR news analyst Daniel Schorr has died at 93. In his long span as a foreign correspondent and Washington reporter, Schorr covered post-World War II reconstruction in Europe, the Cold War, the Watergate scandal and numerous other historical events. Today he's being remembered for his rigorous independence and mettle:

  • A Legendary Foreign Correspondent, writes Robert Hershey at The New York Times:
Mr. Schorr, a protégé of Edward R. Murrow at CBS News, initially made his mark at CBS as a foreign correspondent, most notably in the Soviet Union. He opened the network's Moscow bureau in 1955 and became well enough acquainted with the Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev--whom he called 'the most fascinating person I ever met'--to secure for 'Face the Nation' the first television interview for which Khrushchev ever sat. (He had never even done one for Soviet television.) At the end of 1957 Mr. Schorr went home for the holidays and was denied readmission to the Soviet Union.
  • Constantly at Odds with the Government and His Employer, writes the Radio Business Report: "As a political reporter in Washington, DC Schorr excelled at breaking big stories--and also for creating trouble for his network." For example, "[h]e found himself included on the 'Enemies List' of President Richard Nixon, but also won back-to-back Emmy Awards in 1972, '73 and '74 for his Watergate reporting. He was denounced by CIA Director Richard Helms for reporting that the agency had carried out illegal assassinations, but was vindicated by the 1976 report of the Pike Committee. That government report was a secret, but Schorr obtained a copy and leaked it to the Village Voice. That nearly got him jailed for contempt of Congress." When CBS removed him from the air and he resigned, he went briefly to CNN before winding up at NPR.
  • Quintessentially Honest, says The Washington Post's David Broder: "I think he's unique in the sense that he's been at the center of so many different stories, both here in Washington and overseas, for so long. He kept his perspective so well and does not ever exaggerate what's taking place, but really let you know why it's important."
  • A Natural Reporter, writes Schorr's NPR colleague Alan Greenblatt: the Bronx boy "got his first scoop at age 12, when he saw the body of a woman who had jumped or fallen from the roof of his apartment building. He called the police--and the Bronx Home News, which paid him $5 for the information."
  • The Last of His Kind  "Schorr may well have been the last journalist alive who had been recruited to CBS News by the legendary Edward R. Murrow,"  writes Dan Kennedy at Media Nation. "His death marks not just the passing of a fine reporter, but of a piece of history as well." The Guardian's Michael Tomaskey agrees: "Schorr comes from a time and culture, CBS News in the 1950s, when putting news on television was considered such a civic trust and responsibility that the news division didn't even have to make a profit."

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