Leo M. Cherne (September 8, 1912, The Bronx, New York – January 12, 1999) was an American economist, public servant and commentator. He graduated from New York Law School in 1935. His career spanned more than fifty years.
Cherne's father Max Chernetsky was a Russian-Jewish compositor who emigrated from Bessarabia to New York in 1904. Cherne, an economist and attorney, was a public policy expert who became a principal co-anchor of ABC-TV's All-Star News, the first hour-long prime time nightly network news broadcast, in the 1952-53 television season. While not a ratings success against entertainment programs on NBC and CBS, All-Star News is credited as pointing the way toward the format later used by long-form local news broadcasts in cities across America in the 1960s and beyond, and by CNN and other national and international cable news networks since 1980. Cherne later gained prominence in the private sector as Executive Director of the Research Institute of America, founded to translate complex government legislation for the businessman; Chairman of the Executive Committee of Freedom House, established to advance the struggle for freedom at home and abroad; and Chairman of the International Rescue Committee, formed to assist democratic leaders, scholars, and others to escape Fascism, Communism, and other forms of totalitarianism. He maintained these positions for the greater part of his career.
Cherne also served many Presidents, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George H. W. Bush, in a variety of capacities, including memberships on the U.S. Select Committee for Western Hemisphere Immigration and the U.S. Advisory Commission on International Educational and Cultural Affairs, as well as his activities on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) and the Intelligence Oversight Board (IOB). He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Ronald Reagan in 1984.
Cherne may have been the actual source of this popular quotation often misattributed to Albert Einstein: "The computer is incredibly fast, accurate, and stupid. Man is incredibly slow, inaccurate, and brilliant. The marriage of the two is a force beyond calculation."
Rescuing the World: The Life and Times of Leo Cherne by Andrew F. Smith is a biography of Leo Cherne.
- A film clip "The Open Mind - America's Reluctant Optimist (1984)" is available for free download at the Internet Archive
- Some biographical information
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