themcglynn.com

24 Jul

Daniel Schorr, 1916 -2010

The McGlynn: We will immensely miss this man. Mr. Schorr, Well done.  Rest in Peace.

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“This is a cherished profession”: Daniel Schorr, 1916-2010
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By: Matthew LaPlante

Published on Jul 24, 2010

At 93 years old, Daniel Schorr had pretty much seen it all.
But although Schorr was one of the most well-respected newsmen in America, he was still awed by the accomplishments and adventures of his fellow journalists.
In an appearance alongside once-imprisoned journalist Roxana Saberi during a visit to Rowland Hall St. Mark’s School in Salt Lake City in October, Schorr marveled at how, somehow, “we still find people who, despite the circumstances, fight to tell people what they need to know.”
Reflecting on his time covering the Watergate scandal – a period in which his name appeared on President Richard Nixon’s infamous “enemies list” and in which he was investigated by the FBI – Schorr said that the freedom of the press is constantly under attack.
“If even in America, a president can conspire,” against reporters, “then God knows what happens” in other nations, he said.
And Schorr said that press was not only at risk from oppressive government and powerful leaders. Speaking, he said, for the first time about the matter in public, After a few contemplative pauses, Schorr spoke of instances in which his boss at CBS-TV had made deals to provide press credentials to undercover CIA agents and, under government pressure, limited discourse about Watergate.
“What do you do when you are trying to serve a press and find out that the enemy is your employer?” Schorr asked before lamenting a world in which business motives often affect news decisions.
And yet, the venerable newsman concluded, “this is a cherished profession.”
Damn straight. Here’s hoping that I can say the same when I’m 93.
Godspeed, Mr. Schorr.
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This is Daniel Schorr

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Jews sit shiva when a loved one dies. Since I’m also half Irish, maybe I’m permitted to explain that shiva is like an Irish wake, with more food than drinking. And the morning after Dan Schorr’s death, I want to tell some funny stories about him.

I am glad that the man so famous for winding up on Richard Nixon’s White House enemies’ list, and giving Nikita Khrushchev no quarter in an interview, was also revealed on this show as playful, even whimsical, and kind.

He sang in the studio before we went on: German opera to Marx Brothers nonsense songs, and he laughed when our engineers covered their ears and clipped his mic.

He wrote notes. In a time when people thumb short, ill-spelled text messages for most every major life event, Dan took to his typewriter and clacked out condolence notes when one of us on staff lost a parent, or notes of approval when he heard a story he liked.

One of NPR’s foreign correspondents remembers how much it meant for her to open an envelope in a far-off place, and read a short, encouraging note from Dan Schorr. He’d been posted overseas, in Cold War Moscow and Berlin, in the days before e-mail, and knew how much it meant to get a note that said, “We’re listening.”

But even after he had to use a walker to get in to our studio, Dan scrapped for airtime. With the wiles of a veteran correspondent and the street-smarts of his Bronx youth, Dan competed for every single second. He called once when 15 seconds of one of his pieces had to be cut.

“News happened, Dan,” I told him. “We had to make room. Look, my stuff gets trimmed all the time. It’s just the business, Dan.”

“I admire your attitude,” Dan said. “I don’t share it. But I admire it.”

One day we all saw a man in a fine pin-stripe suit in Dan’s office, wearing a ponytail that nearly reached the floor.

“Oh, Scott,” Dan said with elaborate composure. “You know Frank Zappa.”

He had come to ask Dan to join him and his band, the Mothers of Invention, on a project. We rushed into Dan’s office as soon as Frank Zappa’s ponytail turned the corner.

“Frank’s a highly intelligent man,” Dan told us. “Highly intelligent.”

“Well, yes,” we said. “Have you heard his music?”

“Not yet,” said Dan. “He gave me his CD’s. I might listen to one tonight.”

“Dan, if you haven’t heard Frank Zappa’s music, how do you know that he’s highly intelligent?”

Dan twinkled and said, “Oh. Because he came to ask me for advice.”

Broadcasting is a business that causes a lot of good people to burn out. But for almost a century, Dan Schorr blazed: with fire, and warmth. How he shined.
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Daniel Schorr: His first Monitor story, from 1948

Daniel Schorr wrote his first article as a reporter for the Monitor in 1948, when he was hired to cover the Netherlands, after having worked at news agencies and contributed to other news outlets. This article from the International Court of Justice was a fulfillment of his ambition to be a foreign correspondent at the beginning of his journalism career.

Editor’s note: Veteran newsman Daniel Schorr passed away on Friday. One of his first reporting jobs was for us, as a Monitor correspondent covering the Netherlands. Below is his first dispatch as a Monitor reporter.

United Europe Congress Opens, The Hague, May 7, 1948

By Daniel Schorr, Special Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

Two years ago a union of European countries seemed just a dream of a few visionaries. Today some 800 delegates are gathering for the first United Europe Congress – and the matter-of-fact forecast is heard that a super-national structure will emerge in the course of 1949.

For some time it is not likely to be the all-embracing union from the British Isles to the Caucasus which has stirred the imagination of pan-Europeans for generations. Russia is busy “welding together an eastern European union of its own. But this very consolidation in east Europe has given the new impetus to the West to sing age-old rivalries and national divergencies.

Great Strides

Almost every major postwar development has had the effect of pushing western European countries towards some form of unity – the deepening shadow of Russia, the pooling of resources under the Marshall Plan and the Brussels “Western Union.”

Even a year ago, when the idea of a “United Europe Congress’* was envisaged, the organizers hardly expected that such strides would have been made before the delegates gathered.

I was in The Netherlands last July when the idea of this Congress was broached. Senator Pieter A. Kerstens, head of the organizing committee, hoped it would marshal the hitherto divided forces seeking European unity. It hardly was expected that May, 1948, would find half of Europe already ripe for such unity.

In the words of Count Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, who is here representing the European Parliamentary Union: “The tremendous boom of this idea in the past 18 months is due primarily to the policies of four statesmen – Churchill, Marshall, Bevin, and Stalin. Churchill gave Europe a common hope, Marshall a common interest, Bevin a common organization, and Stalin a common danger.”

Under a red-white flag bearing a single “E” for Europe, the delegates from seven organizations now are convening in the 13th Century Hall of Knights for a five-day session to establish nongovernmental bodies to further the united Europe movement.

The organizations represented are Winston Churchill’s United Europe Committee. Paul van Zee-land’s Independent League for European Cooperation, Dr. Hen-drik Brugmans’ European Union of Federalists. Edouard Herriot’s French Council for the Unity of Europe, the Nouvelles Equipes Internationales, the European Parliamentary Union, and the World Liberal Movement.

The delegates come from Bntain, France, the Low Countries, the Scandinavian countries, Switzerland, Italy, and Portugal. There will also be exiled Spanish representatives, including Salvador de Madariaga and Ortega y Gasset, and individuals from Bulgaria, Hungary. Czechoslovakia, Turkey, Greece, and western Germany.

Socialists Absent

Significantly absent are the European socialist parties, although many Socialists are attending as delegates of other organizations. A conference of socialists from 14 countries decided in Paris on April 25 to boycott the Hague meeting, but to use their influence for the establishment of a “United States of Europe.”

This decision largely was influenced by the British Labor Party, which has no desire to be associated with the Churchill movement and has gone on record as stating that “the idea of European unity can only be saved from corruption by reactionary politicians if the socialists place themselves at the head of the movement for its realization.”

Congress officials are sensitive about the “reactionary” tag which the socialists have tried to pin on the meeting. A secretariat spokesman said that “this will be neither a conservative – or Churchill – Congress nor a red federalists’ meeting. We have endeavored to include representatives of both the left and right.”

One of the tasks of the Congress will be to coordinate the plans of the unofficial movements for European unity with those of the European Parliamentary Union, which to hold a Congress in Interlaken, Switzerland, on Sept. 7 to draft a federal constitution for a “United States of Europe.” The Union claims the backing of more than 1.700 members of 13 free parliaments.

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