Daniel Schorr, a commentator on National Public Radio and former reporter for both CBS and CNN, died Friday at the age of 93.
Schorr spent most of his decades-long career getting into trouble with his sources and subjects. A protege of legendary newsman Edward R. Murrow, he was seen as a menace by officials both in the U.S. and overseas. The Soviet Union barred him from returning to his post at the Moscow bureau of CBS News because he flouted censorship laws. Former CIA Chief Richard Helms called him "Killer Schorr" because he disclosed that the spy agency had carried out assassinations.
But there were times when Schorr kept his mouth shut. He refused to disclose his sources before the U.S Congress. While at CBS, he wound up on President Nixon's "Enemies List." Schorr later resigned from CBS (CBS) before he could be fired.
Years later, Ted Turner would hire Schorr as the first employee of CNN. Several years later, however, Schorr had a falling out with Turner after he objected to being paired with former Texas Gov. John Connolly to cover the 1984 Republican National Convention. Schorr argued that it was wrong to pair a journalist and a politician on such an assignment. A year later, he joined NPR.
"He had a reputation for being demanding and particular," says Frank Sesno, director of the School of Media and Public Affairs and a former CNN Washington Bureau Chief, in an interview. "Dan Schorr was of the school that favored fact-based journalistic analysis. He did not raise his voice."
While at NPR, Schorr sounded like everyone's wise uncle. His incisive commentaries were hammered out on a typewriter. The 93-year-old never entered the computer age though his colleagues maintained a Twitter account for them. He was a living history book having witnessed World War II, the Cold War (and the erection of the Berlin Wall), Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, the Space Race, Watergate, the end of the Cold War and both Iraq wars.
"What other person was personally acquainted with both Richard Nixon and Frank Zappa? " says Scott Simon, host of Weekend Edition, in a statement. "Dan was around for both the Russian Revolution and the Digital Revolution. Nobody else in broadcast journalism – or perhaps any field – had as much experience and wisdom. I am just glad that, after being known for so many years as a tough and uncompromising journalist, NPR listeners also got to know the Dan Schorr that was playful, funny and kind. In a business that's known for burning out people, Dan Schorr shined for nearly a century."