Daniel Schorr reported on national and international issues for more than 60 years. As a foreign correspondent for CBS News, Schorr covered Russia and Eastern Europe. As a Washington correspondent, he covered the McCarthy hearings and the intelligence organizations. He was one of the most hated reporters on Richard Nixon’s “enemies list.” He helped create CNN and was an analyst at NPR until his death in July 2010.
Schorr’s journalism career begins at age 12 when he reports on a woman who jumped or fell from his apartment building’s roof. After calling the police, Schorr calls his local paper, the Bronx Home News, and relays the story. He is paid $5 for his information.
Schorr receives a bachelor’s degree from the College of the City of New York. During his studies, he also works for a number of small New York dailies, such as the New York Journal-American.
Schorr serves as the New York editor for the Dutch news agency ANETA.
Drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II, Schorr serves for two years in the Army intelligence unit.
Beginning a 20-year career as a foreign correspondent, Schorr writes from Western Europe for The Christian Science Monitor and later The New York Times.
Edward R. Murrow notices Schorr’s reporting and asks him to join CBS News as its diplomatic correspondent in Washington. The position allows Schorr to travel on assignment to Latin America, Europe and Asia.
Receiving accreditation to open a CBS bureau in Moscow, Schorr moves to Moscow and conducts the first-ever exclusive television interview with a Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev. The interview was filmed in Khrushchev’s Kremlin office in 1957 for the CBS show “Face the Nation.”
For the entirety of Schorr’s two-year stay in the Soviet Union, he runs into trouble with the KGB, the secret Soviet intelligence agency, for resisting its censorship of his stories. At one point, Schorr is following Khrushchev on a story and he passes out from a “KGB Mickey Finn” someone had slipped him. He is eventually barred from the Soviet Union in late 1957 for censorship-related disputes.
Schorr returns to the U.S. and reports from Washington and the United Nations for CBS. When Khrushchev famously tours the United States for two weeks , Schorr covers his trip. That same year, Schorr interviews Fidel Castro in Havana and travels with President Dwight Eisenhower to South America, Asia and Europe.
Assigned to Bonn, Germany, as CBS bureau chief for Germany and Eastern Europe, Schorr covers the Berlin crisis and the building of the Berlin Wall.
Retiring as a foreign correspondent, Schorr is reassigned to Washington. He focuses his reporting on American societal issues, including health care, poverty, education and pollution.
Material for his first book, “Don’t Get Sick in America!,” originally airs in a documentary for the series “CBS Reports.”
CBS assigns Schorr as a full-time Watergate correspondent and he quickly becomes a target of the Nixon administration. White House chief of staff H.R. Haldeman had deceptively ordered an extensive background check by the FBI on Schorr under the guise of a job offer. That misuse of power and federal investigation of Schorr later becomes part of the Bill of Impeachment in 1974, under “abuse of a Federal agency.”
Schorr reports on the Senate Watergate hearings, for which he won three Emmy Awards and famously reads on-air Nixon’s “enemies list,” which included his own name.
Schorr covers the House Select Committee on Intelligence known as the Pike Committee, which investigated illegal activities involving the CIA and FBI, including the attempted assassination of foreign heads of state.
Receiving a leaked copy of the Pike Report, Schorr is surprised to learn that CBS News, his employer, does not want to publish the report. So he gives it to Clay Felker, publisher of New York magazine and the Village Voice, to publish. CBS suspends Schorr. He is investigated by the House Ethics Committee and is threatened with jail time if he does not reveal his source, which he refuses to do: “to betray a source would mean to dry up many future sources for many future reporters. ... It would mean betraying myself, my career and my life.”
The committee votes 6-5 against a contempt citation for Schorr. Schorr resigns from CBS News despite its requests for him to stay. He briefly lectures at the University of California, Berkeley, and becomes a syndicated newspaper columnist.
Schorr’s book “Clearing the Air” discusses his account of the events around the Pike Report.
Ted Turner asks Schorr to assist in the creation of Cable News Network, where he serves as the senior correspondent for five years.
Facing restrictions on his editorial independence, Schorr leaves CNN and begins working primarily for NPR. Schorr contributes regularly to “All Things Considered,” “Weekend Edition Saturday,” “Weekend Edition Sunday” and NPR’s live coverage of breaking news.
Schorr is inducted into the Society of Professional Journalists Hall of Fame.
A collection of Schorr’s NPR commentaries from 1991 to 2007 forms the basis of “Come to Think of It: Notes on the Turn of the Millennium.”
Schorr continues to work for NPR until his death on July 23. He was 93.
Additional Information and References
- 1972 Emmy Award
- 1973 Emmy Award
- 1974 Emmy Award
- 1991 Society of Professional Journalists Hall of Fame
- 1992 Peabody Award
- 1993 George Polk Award for Radio Commentary
- 1996 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University “Golden Baton”
- 2002 The Edward R. Murrow Award for Lifetime Achievement
- 2006 Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism
- “Don’t Get Sick In America!” Nashville: Aurora Publishers, 1970.
- “Clearing the Air.” Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1977.
- “Staying Tuned: A Life in Journalism.” New York: Pocket Books, 2001.
- “Come to Think of It: Notes on the Turn of the Millennium.” New York: Viking, 2007.