Daniel Schorr (1916-2010)

Daniel Schorr passed away on Friday at the age of 93.  On this Monday’s Bob Edwards Show, we will rebroadcast Bob’s interview with Dan which originally aired January 2, 2008.  Below is the blog post written by Bob before that 2008 airing.
 

 

By Bob Edwards

 

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Yes, we finally got him, and you can hear our conversation on Wednesday, January 2nd. We have to give Dan the full hour because there’s so much ground to cover—-his journalism career spans more than 70 of his 91 years. 
 
For the last 17 years, Dan Schorr has been the senior news analyst for NPR (hired by Robert Siegel in his prior incarnation as director of news).  Twice a week, Dan researches, writes and delivers a timely commentary for All Things Considered on an  important issue in that day’s news. On Weekend Edition Saturday, Dan reviews the week’s important world events in conversation with host Scott Simon. Then on Weekend Edition Sunday, Dan contributes what Edward R. Murrow used to call “a think piece,” a little essay. That’s four contributions a week, which means he’s heard more often than many NPR reporters who are a fraction of his age. He’s also sometimes used in breaking news situations. His analysis nearly always offers a perspective the listener has not heard before—-and it often incorporates an anecdote from his long reporting experience.  Frequently, I hear a sort of audio “sigh” in Dan’s delivery, as if he’s noting that some news is cyclical—-history DOES repeat itself—-and political leaders never learn from past mistakes—-even their own.   Many of Dan’s commentaries for NPR have been collected in a new book titled Come to Think of It, and it’s impressive to see how his judgment has held up with the passage of time.
 
In our interview, we review the many peaks and the occasional valley in Dan’s long career.  Of all the fabulous journalists hired by Edward R. Murrow for CBS News, Daniel Schorr is the only one still working in daily journalism.Murrow once said to him, “Schorr, you’ll do.” Everyone on the staff knew that was the ultimate Murrow compliment. Dan’s first TV interview was with Nikita Khrushchev in the Kremlin.   In August of 1961, he reported that East Germany was building a wall through Berlin.  Twenty-eight years later, he went back to report on the Berlin Wall coming down. Dan’s aggressive reporting infuriated public officials—-and sometimes his fellow journalists.  He covered the Senate Watergate hearings, where John Dean revealed that President Nixon had an Enemies List.  Copies were passed to reporters and Dan went live, on camera, to read the names on the list, not knowing it included his own name until he read it on the air.   A few years later, Dan nearly went to prison for refusing to reveal who leaked him a Congressional report on CIA covert activities.  In effect, this incident cost him his job at CBS. That freed Dan to become a cable TV pioneer—-Ted Turner hired him to do commentary for the bold, new journalistic experiment called CNN. It took a few years, but ultimately the two titans clashed and Dan was looking for yet another new opportunity, which turned out to be NPR.
 
Dan Schorr, 91, has all the important journalism trophies, a number of books to his name and a solid reputation as a legend in our field. That’s why it’s sad that  he still carries a hurt inflicted on him 60 years ago. Listen Wednesday and hear him explain. And Dan likes a Gershwin tune—-and will sing one for you on Wednesday.  As my 73-year-old good buddy Carl Kasell likes to say, Dan is an inspiration to all of us youngsters.