Schorr (left) and NPR's Scott Simon prepare for a Saturday broadcast.
|Born||Daniel Louis Schorr
August 31, 1916
Bronx, New York, U.S.
|Died||July 23, 2010
Washington, DC, U.S.
Daniel Louis Schorr (August 31, 1916 – July 23, 2010) was an American journalist who covered world news for more than 60 years. He was most recently a Senior News Analyst for National Public Radio (NPR). Schorr won three Emmy Awards for his television journalism.
Schorr was born in the Bronx, New York, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants Tillie Godiner and Gedaliah Tchornemoretz. He began his journalism career at the age of 13, when he came upon a woman who had jumped or fallen from the roof of his apartment building. After calling the police, he phoned the Bronx Home News and was paid $5 for his information.
He attended DeWitt Clinton High School in the West Bronx, where he worked on the Clinton News, the school paper. He graduated from City College of New York in 1939 while working for the Jewish Daily Bulletin. During World War II, Schorr served in Army Intelligence at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
Journalism during the Cold War and CBS News
Following several years as a stringer, in 1953 he joined CBS News as one of the recruits of Edward R. Murrow (becoming part of the later generation of Murrow's Boys). In 1955, with the post-Stalin thaw in the Soviet Union, he received accreditation to open a CBS bureau in Moscow. In June 1957, he obtained an exclusive interview with Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet Communist party chief. It aired on CBS's Face the Nation, Schorr's first television interview. Schorr left the Soviet Union later that year, because of Soviet censorship laws. When he applied for a new visa, it was denied by the Soviets.
In January 1962, he aired the first examination of everyday life under communism in East Germany, The Land Beyond the Wall: Three Weeks in a German City, which The New York Times called a "journalistic coup". After agreeing not to foster "propaganda" for the United States, Schorr was granted the rights to conduct the interviews in the city of Rostock. By airing everyday life, Schorr painted a picture of the necessity for a Communist state to seal itself off from the West in order to survive.
CBS executives were not amused when Schorr reported—incorrectly—that Barry Goldwater was said to "travel to Germany to join-up with the right-wing there", and visit "Hitler's one-time stomping ground" in Berchtesgaden, immediately after he became the Republican nominee for president. For obvious reasons, this did not fare well with Goldwater, who demanded an apology for the "CBS conspiracy" against his campaign for president.
Schorr attracted the anger of the Nixon White House. In 1971, after a dispute with White House aides, Schorr's friends, neighbors, and co-workers were questioned by the FBI about his habits. They were told that Schorr was under consideration for a high-level position in the environmental area. Schorr knew nothing about it. Later, during the Watergate hearings, it was revealed that Nixon aides had drawn up what became known as Nixon's Enemies List, and Daniel Schorr was on that list. Famously, Schorr read the list aloud on live TV, surprised to be reading his own name in that context. Schorr won Emmys for news reporting in 1972, 1973, and 1974.
Schorr provoked intense controversy in 1976 when he received and made public the contents of the secret Pike Committee report on illegal CIA and FBI activities. Called to testify before Congress, he refused to identify his source on First Amendment grounds, risking imprisonment. This did not mollify CBS executives, and Schorr ultimately resigned from his position at CBS in September 1976.
On May 14, 2006, on NPR's Weekend Edition, Schorr mentioned a meeting at the White House that took place with colleague A. M. Rosenthal and president Gerald Ford. Ford mentioned that the Rockefeller Commission had access to various CIA documents, including those referring to political assassinations. Although scolded at first for his television report by former CIA director Richard Helms, Schorr was vindicated by the text of the Pike Committee, which he obtained from an undisclosed source and leaked to The Village Voice.
Career as an elder statesman of journalism
In 1977, he was hired by Reese Schonfeld as a White House correspondent for ITNA (Independent Television News Association), a news agency serving independent television news stations in the U.S. In 1979, Schonfeld and Ted Turner brought Schorr to CNN, where he was the first on camera employee hired. At CNN, he reported news and delivered commentary and news analysis on the fledgling Cable News Network (CNN). His contract was not renewed in 1985, one of the two times he stated he was "fired". He then took the position as Senior News Analyst at NPR, a position he held for decades up to the time of his death. In that position, he regularly commented on current events for programs including All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. He also wrote a column for the Christian Science Monitor for several decades. Schorr was called "reliably liberal", and was "widely regarded as a liberal" according to another source, though he regarded the label as inaccurate.
In 1994, Schorr narrated the TV miniseries, Watergate. In the late 1990s, he appeared briefly as a newscaster in three Hollywood movies: The Game, The Net, and The Siege. In the 1997 film The Game starring Michael Douglas, Schorr spoke to the main character through his television as a computer-augmented version of himself, stating the rules of the titular game. He also appeared as himself in the docufiction film World War Three: The Movie that considered an alternative ending to the USA/USSR Cold War.
Schorr was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2002.
Though not a fan of rock music, Schorr became friends with composer Frank Zappa after the latter contacted him, asking for help with a voter registration drive. Schorr made an appearance with Zappa on February 10, 1988, where he sang "It Ain't Necessarily So" and "Summertime". Schorr delivered the eulogy on NPR after Zappa's death on December 4, 1993; he professed not to understand Zappa's lengthy discourses on music theory, but he found a kindred spirit—a serious man with a commitment to free speech.
About 20 years after Nixon's resignation, Schorr attended a dinner where Nixon spoke about the Soviet Union. After the dinner ended, Schorr walked up to Nixon and said, "Mr. Nixon, I'm not sure you'll remember me." Nixon replied, "Dan Schorr, damn near hired you once."
In 2000, referring to the Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore, Schorr wrote in a Christian Science Monitor column that the "gang of five" had produced a "coup" and a "junta."
Schorr died peacefully from an apparent "short illness" on July 23, 2010, at a Washington, D.C. hospital. He was 93 years old. Schorr's last broadcast commentary for NPR aired on July 10, 2010.
- Emmy Award for "outstanding achievement within a regularly scheduled news program", 1972, 1973, and 1974.
- George Polk Award for Radio Commentary, for his work on NPR, 1993.
- Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University "Golden Baton" for "Exceptional Contributions to Radio and Television Reporting and Commentary", 1996.
- Edward R. Murrow Award for Lifetime Achievement in Broadcasting, 2002.
- (2007) Come to Think of It: Notes on the Turn of the Millennium . Viking Adult. ISBN 0-670-01873-2.
- (2005) The Senate Watergate Report. Carroll & Graf. ISBN 0-7867-1709-2.
- (2002) Staying Tuned: A Life in Journalism. Washington Square Press. ISBN 0-671-02088-9.
- (1998) Forgive Us Our Press Passes, Selected Works (1972–1998). O'Brien Center for Scholarly Pubns. ISBN 0-9626954-6-7.
- (1978) Clearing The Air. Berkley. ISBN 0-425-03903-X.
- (1970) Don't Get Sick in America. Aurora Publishers. ISBN 0-87695-103-5.
- Journalism Legend Daniel Schorr Dies At 93
- Hershey Jr., Robert D. (July 23, 2010). "Daniel Schorr, Journalist, Dies at 93". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-23.
- Staying Tuned: A Life in Journalism: Daniel Schorr. ISBN 978-0-671-02088-0]
- Philip Hilts (1976-03-28). "Daniel Schorr Had A Secret; Then he passed it on-and all hell broke loose". The Washington Post.
- Staying Tuned, PBS News Hour, 2001-05-29. Retrieved 2008-06-23.
- "Remembering Journalist Abe Rosenthal". Weekend Edition Sunday. NPR. 2006-05-14.
- "Helms Terms Newsman 'Killer' for Hint of Murders by C.I.A.". The New York Times. 1975-04-29.
- Schorr, Daniel
- Jaffe, Harry (1 August 2008). "No Bull Bill". The Washingtonian. Retrieved 28 May 2011.
- Molotsky, Irvin (27 November 1997). "One Tough Bird, After All; How Public Broadcasting Survived the Attacks Of Conservatives". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 May 2011.
- NPR.org – "Daniel Schorr And Frank Zappa Were Friends. Really."
- "NPR's 'Voice Of Experience,' Daniel Schorr, Dies". All Things Considered. NPR. 23 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-14.
- Schorr, Daniel (15 December 2000). "The Supreme fix was in". The Christian Science Monitor.
- Sullivan, Patricia (July 23, 2010). "Daniel Schorr, veteran broadcast reporter and news analyst, dead at 93". Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-07-23.
- Serjeant, Jill (Fri Jul 23, 2010). "Veteran journalist Daniel Schorr dies at 93". Reuters. Retrieved 2010-07-23.
- The Edward R. Murrow Symposium
- Profile at NPR
- Profile at The Museum of Broadcast Communications
- Works by or about Daniel Schorr in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Daniel Schorr on Twitter
- Obituary at The New York Times
- Daniel Schorr Interview at Archive of American Television
- 1996 lecture from UCTV University of California Television
- Booknotes interview with Schorr on Staying Tuned: A Life in Journalism, July 1, 2001.
- 2003 panel discussion with Helen Thomas and Daniel Laidlaw from UCTV University of California Television
- Daniel Schorr analysis of Iraq war buildup, NPR, July 13, 2005 – (Real Audio)
- "Daniel Schorr". FBI Records: The Vault. U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.