Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Daniel Schorr Remembered

NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr has died at the age of 93 after a lifetime in journalism. NPR has put together several pieces on him, including a 3 minute one, a 12 minute one, and a 55 minute memorial special (see the left column at the link). His stints in Moscow and Germany yield some interesting tales, and I found the Nixon and 70s era stories particularly fascinating. Here's one:

In 1975, Schorr reported on assassinations that had been carried out by the CIA. "The anger of the administration can be gauged from Richard Helms' denunciation of Schorr," historian Garry Wills recounts in his 2010 book, Bomb Power.

Helms, then the CIA director, confronted Schorr in the presence of other reporters at the White House, calling him names such as "son of a bitch" and "killer."

"Killer Schorr: That's what they ought to call you," Helms said.

In 1976, Schorr reported on the findings of the Pike Committee, which had investigated illegal CIA and FBI activities. The committee had voted to keep its final report secret, but Schorr leaked a copy to the Village Voice, which published it.

Schorr was threatened with a $100,000 fine and jail time for contempt of Congress. But during congressional testimony, Schorr refused to identify his source, citing First Amendment protections. The House ethics committee voted 6 to 5 against a contempt citation.

But CBS had already taken Schorr off the air. He ultimately resigned from the network that year.

"CBS found that, like other big corporations, it did not like to offend the Congress," Mudd said. "He broke his ties to CBS and before they could fire him, he resigned."

That's pretty gutsy. In the NPR pieces, Schorr's recent and past colleagues speak with him and about him with admiration and affection. And if one is also judged by the quality of one's enemies, Schorr did quite well:

Schorr was surprised to find himself on the so-called Enemies List that had been drawn up by Richard Nixon's White House when he read it on the air. The list — naming hundreds of political opponents, entertainers and publications considered hostile to the administration — became the basis for one of the charges of impeachment against Nixon.

Schorr, along with some other members of the list, counted his inclusion on it as his greatest achievement.

Update: Gordonskene at C&L has posted the audio of a piece by Schorr – the "CBS Reports documentary Berlin: Wall of Shame, which aired on January 4, 1962. A vivid picture of just how bad relations had become between East and West."

(Cross-posted at Hullabaloo.)


1 comment:

lisahgolden said...

His voice will truly be missed.