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Late Journalism Legend Daniel Schorr Would Be 100 Years Old This Week


This was Daniel Schorr's spot for many years on this program. We called it the Week In Review, but it was more like a weekly stop for a wise, sharp and funny man to reflect on how the news of the week fit into all the history he'd seen and reported.


SIMON: NPR senior news analyst Dan Schorr joins us. Good morning, Dan.

DAN SCHORR: Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: And, of course, the vice president has come under fire...

SCHORR: Well, I think what you're pointing to is the fact that the whole part of the Middle East there is coming aflame and that they're...


SIMON: Winter Olympics opened in Turin, Italy. A lot of people don't know, Dan, that you were once a luge racer. And I just wonder what event you're looking forward to this year.

SCHORR: Well, obviously, luge racing because it really...

SIMON: (Laughter) It brings it all back.

Dan Schorr was born the year before the Russian Revolution and he lived to report World War II, the Berlin Wall going up, Vietnam and the war on poverty, Watergate and Irangate, then the Berlin Wall coming down, two wars in Iraq and the rise of the internet. Dan Schorr would have been 100 years old next week. He was hired at CBS by Ed Murrow, the father of news broadcasting, when microphones were as large as floor lamps and overseas reports were sent by shortwave.

By the time Dan died at the age of 94, people had begun to report their own news instantaneously on cellphones. But he kept pace and became one of the first media figures on Twitter. Dan said it reminded him of the town square in ancient Rome, then paused just long enough to add, not that I remember that.

Over the six years that he's been gone, I've often wondered what Dan might think of something in the news, especially so in this raucous, unpredictable year. I don't know what he would have made of ISIS, the Iran deal, police misconduct, mass shootings, missing emails, build a wall and lock her up, but I'm sure Dan would have looked forward to getting here early in the morning to sort through all the bunk, farce and foolishness. And there's no voice I'd love to hear more right now.

Dan celebrated his 85th birthday in early September 2001, just after he'd had some surgery. He looked a little shaky as he stood that night but eager to return to the work he cherished so much and did so well. Two days later was September 11, 2001. Dan came back to work that day and just kept going. Dan's love for his family kept him alive, but his work kept him going. In this time when news can be so partisan and strident, Dan Schorr was devoutly impartial. The only point of view he had was a wry, unblinking eye, skeptical of power but respectful of people. He was courteous but aggressive and just the reverse when required.

When Dan turned 90 in 2006, he had a series of birthday celebrations across the country, thoughtfully timed to coincide with local station fundraising. Crowds came to cheer and wish him well and often surrounded him with Elvis-like intensity when he came offstage. At one stop, they became so persistent Dan had to be escorted out. A doctor was called in to make certain he was well.

When we had dinner that night, Dan said, sorry I had to leave you like that. Oh, Dan, thats fine, I told him. I just hope I'm around for your 100th birthday. Dan stopped for that long comic set-up of a pause he had and said, Scott, you're a young man, young family. You exercise, take care of yourself. There's no reason why you shouldn't live to see my 100th birthday. Once again, Dan Schorr was right. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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