Class of 1942
Bernard Kalb was an acclaimed newspaperman, television broadcaster, author and media critic, but he made headlines of his own when he resigned as a State Department spokesman in 1986 to protest government “disinformation.” In so doing, he became a hero to many for calling attention to the importance of governmental credibility. It happened when Kalb, then spokesman for Secretary of State George P. Schultz, stepped aside because of “the reported disinformation program” conducted by the Reagan administration against Col. Muammar e-Qaddafi of Libya.
“Faith in the word of America is the pulsebeat of our democracy,” Kalb said on the day he resigned. “Anything that hurts America’s credibility hurts America.”
“In his final official act,” wrote William Safire in The New York Times, “Bernard Kalb rose above State Department spokesman to become the spokesman for all Americans who respect and demand the truth.”
|Kalb at the grave of Capt. R.F. Scott, Antarctica, 1956.|
Born on Feb. 4, 1922, Kalb attended public schools in New York before entering City College. He graduated during World War II and spent two years in the Army. Most of his military service was in the Aleutian Islands, where he worked on an Army newspaper. His editor was a sergeant, an older fellow named Dashiell Hammett, who had seen combat during World War I and who had already written the mystery novels that made him a legend. In 1946, after his discharge, Kalb was hired by The New York Times. He wrote for the Times’s radio station, WQXR, then reported from New York and from the United Nations. He was sent abroad by The Times and was a correspondent in Southeast Asia. In December 1955, he went to Antarctica to cover Operation Deepfreeze, the largest-ever U.S. expedition to that continent, and said he kept warm trying to find synonyms for the word “ice.”
In 1962, Kalb joined Marvin at CBS, anchored “The CBS Morning News” from 1970 to 1972, and reported from around the globe. In 1980, both Kalb brothers moved to NBC, and in 1984, Bernard Kalb entered government service as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and State Department spokesman. In later years, he became a widely traveled lecturer and moderator on subjects ranging from foreign policy to the media, sought after because of his vast experience, outgoing manner and lively sense of humor. A couple of years after his resignation, he spoke at a Communications Alumni Group dinner and described his State Department job as “keeper of the nation’s ambiguities.”