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The Tentacle


July 28, 2010

Daniel Schorr

Roy Meachum

Dan Schorr was not my buddy. We met when he joined CBS in 1953. The network’s bureau moved to Broadcast House a year later when the building opened.

 

At the time I was still doing “Roy Meachum in the Morning” six days a week from seven to nine, on Channel 9. For some reason my mind twists Dan’s memory with that of George Herman’s, who had just transferred from Japan; he was still hung up on that island’s Koto. With the help of the librarian I found a record of that Japanese stringed instrument for my radio program. By the way, George passed away eight years ago; the long-time Face the Nation moderator was the same age as colleague Schorr.

 

The two correspondents appeared in my life at the same time; so did Eric Sevareid and Walter Cronkite, who had separate reputations well in advance. I listened to Eric during World War II; he broadcast from Europe along with Edward R. Murrow. Switching to television, the frequently dour Norwegian was famous among cameramen and technicians for unfastening his belt and unzipping his fly, safely below the table used for his commentaries.

 

Walter was more familiar. In the first place, as millions knew him, he was jocular and avuncular, which means like an uncle. Furthermore, we shared office space when Broadcast House was building around us. I met his wife at the movie premiere for “The Robe,” at Loew’s Capitol Theatre. After he moved to New York to take over my time slot, our relationship continued by phone. Just after returning from Egypt, I called and heard from Walter that the Shah of Iran had gone into exile, headed for the place I had left.

 

Dan Schorr was anything but avuncular. George Herman had a very warm personality, frequently smiling. When Dan was amused – not very often – his lips were permitted to curl pleasantly. He married for the first time, at age 50; on the same day I took my second wife. His stuck around, mine didn’t – which goes to show he had a second personality people in the news business couldn’t see.

 

As you read and saw over the weekend, Dan Schorr stood up to prompt several crises that caused his departures from both CBS and CNN to which he was lured by my former boss, Ed Turner – not to be confused with Ted Turner; they were not related. At the end he shared his pearls of integrity and wisdom with PBS listeners. I was always mildly surprised to catch his “pearls” on public radio.

 

My problem comes from my infernal habit of categorizing. I tend to think of people as they were when I first knew them. It makes no sense for a guy who switched careers many times before landing in Frederick where I benefitted from the backing and the friendship of my first employer. If George Delaplaine had run CBS instead of Bill Paley when the last network rhubarb ensued, Dan Schorr would not have gone wandering.

 

Requiescat in pace. May he rest in peace.

 



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