Class of 1939
As a newspaperman, a television correspondent for CBS and CNN and a radio commentator for NPR, Daniel Schorr was a celebrated and uncompromising journalist for more than 70 years. His passionate reporting here and abroad not only brought him industry honors and made him a familiar face and voice, but it enraged political censors in other countries, brought him into conflict with network executives, and infuriated at least one U.S. president.
His career, including 20 years as a foreign correspondent, brought him such honors as three Emmys, a DuPont-Columbia “Golden Baton,” a George Foster Peabody lifetime award, and a George Polk radio commentary award. In 2002, he was elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and that same year Boston public radio station WBUR and Boston University instituted a Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize of $5,000 for an “individual news work of significance and quality by a young journalist in public radio.” City College presented him with a Townsend Harris Medal in 1995.
Schorr was born in the Bronx on Aug. 31, 1916. He scored his first “scoop” when he discovered the body of a woman who had plunged to her death from the roof of his apartment building. He alerted the police and after interviewing witnesses, he called The Bronx Home News and was paid $5 for the story. He was 13 years old. After attending DeWitt Clinton High School, where he was a staffer on the school paper, Schorr enrolled at City College and contributed articles to various New York news organizations while still a student.
|Interviewing Robert F. Kennedy, 1967.|
He began as a full-time professional right after graduation, reporting for The Jewish Daily Bulletin, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and, from Europe, for Aneta, the Netherlands East Indies news agency. During World War II, Schorr served with Army intelligence before returning to the Netherlands. In 1946, he began filing for The Christian Science Monitor and then, The New York Times. His work so impressed the legendary Edward R. Murrow of CBS that in 1953 he was offered a job, becoming part of an elite group within CBS known as “Murrow’s boys.” Schorr was the network’s diplomatic correspondent in Washington, traveling on assignment to Latin America, Europe and Asia. In 1955, he opened CBS’s first Moscow bureau and two years later, he persuaded Nikita S. Khrushchev to appear on “Face the Nation,” the first time a Soviet leader had been interviewed on American television. Two years later, after returning from a U.S. vacation, Schorr was refused readmission to the Soviet Union for persistently resisting Soviet censors.
|With West Berlin mayor Willy Brandt, 1962.|
He spent the next few years reporting from Washington as well as South America, Asia and Europe before being reassigned to Washington in 1966. When the Watergate scandal erupted in 1972, Schorr’s exclusive reports brought him three Emmys. It also earned him a place on President Richard M. Nixon’s “enemies list” and orders from the White House that Schorr be investigated by the FBI. He once said he considered his place on the enemies list “a greater tribute than the Emmys list.”
In 1976, Schorr obtained a suppressed House of Representatives committee report on questionable activities by the Central Intelligence Agency. When CBS declined to publish the document in either of its book subsidiaries, Schorr leaked it to The Village Voice. Threatened with contempt of Congress and a possible jail sentence if he did not disclose the source of the document, Schorr refused, claiming First Amendment protections. A House committee voted 6 to 5 against citing him. By then, CBS had suspended him and Schorr resigned after 23 years with the network.
He spent the next two years lecturing at the University of California at Berkeley and writing a syndicated newspaper column, but returned to television in 1979, when Ted Turner asked him to help start the Cable News Network. Schorr was CNN’s senior Washington correspondent until 1985, leaving when he felt his editorial independence was being limited. He joined NPR as a senior news analyst, commenting on current events on programs such as “All Things Considered” and “Weekend Edition.” In 2001, he published a memoir, “Staying Tuned: A Life in Journalism.” Schorr remained with NPR for 25 years, broadcasting until the time of his death on July 23, 2010, at the age of 93.