BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Daniel Schorr, author of "Staying Tuned," you write about a lot of episodes in your life, including the Pike Committee. Tell us that story.
Mr. DANIEL SCHORR, AUTHOR, "STAYING TUNED: A LIFE IN JOURNALISM:" Well, the Pike Committee was a House Intelligence Committee headed by Representative Otis Pike of New York. They had joined the Senate in an investigation of CIA-FBI and some of the bad things that had happened before then. The House committee, headed by Congressman Pike, completed a report, voted 9-to-4 to publish the report, and I happened to get an advance draft of it. From that draft, I simply reported on the air, `This report says,' `The report quotes on,' `Another report has give'--this, that and all the rest of it.
At one point, on television, I actually held up the report, said, `This is a report which is going to be issued next week, and'--but it wasn't issued next week because the House decided, in its wisdom, that it would suppress the report. That left me in the strange position of having the only copy of the report in the free world, if I may put it that way, and people began calling me and saying, `You're showing this on television. This will never be published unless you publish it.' I said, `Oh, my, I--that's a lot of responsibility.'
Well, I went to my bosses at CBS, which owned two publishing houses, and said, `Why don't we do like what The New York Times did with the Pentagon Papers, having reported the stories in them and then published, for historians, a text of it. Why don't we do that?' CBS made clear that it wasn't going to do that because The New York Times and a television network are very different in terms of what they're worried about, regulation and all of that. Thereupon, I was left to do it by myself, and with the help of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, I said, `Find somebody who will publish the whole thing, and I'll give it to them.' That turned out to be The Village Voice.
There was a big uproar, not only from the Ford administration, from the CIA, from Secretary Henry Kissinger, but alas within CBS, where the affiliates happened to--that was the day--this is 1976, and the affiliates were very worried in those days about cable coming on, and they were worried about the legislation that might help cable. They didn't want to have somebody from television somewhere having a problem--creating a problem for them with the Congress, of all things, at that time.
And so the result of that was that the affiliates asked for my head. They wanted me fired. CBS first suspended me, and then, at some point--at some point, asked me to sign an agreement to resign at the end of congressional investigations. The House Ethics Committee got the job of finding out where I had gotten the report, and they tried. They had a bunch of FBI--ex-FBI agents were hired. They interviewed staff, the members of the committee, anybody who might have it, and they didn't get anywhere. And eventually they decided they would subpoena me and ask me simply, where did I get it.
Well, I appeared in a public session with a, thank heaven, public television camera there, which I think made a big difference, and they demanded to know where I'd gotten the report on pain of contempt of Congress citation, which might have resulted in a--couple of years in jail. It was very serious. Nonetheless, I had no way but to say that I can't do this. And in the end, they voted 6-to-5 not to cite me for contempt, but instead to denounce me for all the terrible things that I had done.
LAMB: Did you ever tell anybody where you got that?
Mr. SCHORR: No, of course not, nor will I now.
LAMB: Now if somebody had be--gave it to you that was dead, would you say--would you tell us where it came from?
Mr. SCHORR: Bob Woodward has said that he will tell who Deep Throat is when Deep Throat is--has died. I haven't even approached that question. No, I don't think so. I--I think when you promise a--a source confidentiality, it doesn't end with death, now that you ask.
LAMB: What was the story about Lesley Stahl? I remember years ago that there was a rift inside your bureau...
Mr. SCHORR: Right.
LAMB: ...because you had done something and blaming Lesley Stahl for this.
Mr. SCHORR: Well, the--the one stupid thing and the one thing I regret having done, although it was very well meant, having decided that to provide an extra layer of protection for my source, I would also try to be anonymous myself in deposing them. Well, the result of that--result of that was that since it wasn't clear where this report had come from when The Village Voice published it, people began speculating. And one of these speculations went like this. It was in The Village Voice. The man who wrote the introduction to it for The Village Voice was quoting Lesley Stahl.
LAMB: Aaron Latham.
Mr. SCHORR: Aaron Latham. He was frequently at our office waiting for Lesley to finish work. Somewhere in the middle of our newsroom, we Xeroxed extra copies of the report, and so there was the hypothetical possibility, since I had not immediately said that I did it--the hypothetical possibility that it might have, in some way, been Aaron Latham and Lesley Stahl.
As soon as I realized where--where that speculation was going, I--I went in to our bureau chief and said, `Wait a minute. Cut--cut that out.' I--I--I said, `I'll--you will very soon know. Just let me talk to a lawyer so that it'll be lawyer-client.' And within 24 hours, I made clear to them that their--the source they were looking for, it was myself. So...
LAMB: What year was all this?
Mr. SCHORR: All this was 1976.
LAMB: And what impact did it have on your career at CBS?
Mr. SCHORR: Well, what it meant was--it wa--it was interesting. After my appearance before the House Ethics Committee, the CBS--my bosses at CBS, Richard Salant, who had caused me to sign, more or less, an undated letter of resignation, now changed his mind and asked me to go back to work. And I said, `But, Dick, you fired me in--last February.' He said, `Well, then I'm unfiring you now.' But I said, `I think that we've gone too far.' My lawyer and friend, Joe Califano, said, `You don't have any future there anymore, after all of that.'
And so I took my resignation, which they had--now had to let me resign because they ha--had me caused to write that letter of resignation, and I resigned with a--with a very good financial settlement.
LAMB: How many years did you work at CBS, and what were they?
Mr. SCHORR: They were the--well, I was hired on the--on the volition of Ed Murrow in 1953. I had been a CBS stringer before then. Got hired in 1953, and I left in 1976, so it was 23 years of actual work, plus two more years I remained on the--on the payroll because my contract had to--still to go on.
LAMB: You also report in your book on an incident that happened two years earlier when Richard Nixon resigned...
Mr. SCHORR: Yes.
LAMB: ...August the 9th. August the 8th, he resigned.
Mr. SCHORR: Yes.
LAMB: August the 9th, he actually left the White House--in which you say it had a direct impact on your future at CBS.
Mr. SCHORR: Well, that's right. I had--I was what was called CBS' chief Watergate correspondent, and as we approached the time of either impeachment or resignation, now we were getting ready for the end of the regime of Richard Nixon, however it came about. I was assigned with a young producer to produce something called "The Political Obituary of Richard Nixon," and that was to trace Watergate all through right after this, which we were going to play on whatever night it was that the--that the end came.
Well, happen--strange thing happened. Arthur Taylor, who was then the president of CBS Incorporated, came to town--he had campaigned for Nixon in college. He came to town. I asked him, well, why he was there, and he said they were very worried about what Nixon might say in his resignation; that he might unload on television in general and CBS in particular and polarize the country on the subject of television and CBS. And he was very worried about that. I saw him later that afternoon, and he said--he was no longer worried about that; that he thought they had it in hand. I assumed that meant that he had talked to friends at the White House, and they had some sort of understanding.
That began to become more sure when the--the bureau chief--our bureau chief came to us 6, 7:00 in the evening, as we waited for the 9:00 announcement--came to us and said--he said to me, `Dan, don't be vindictive tonight.' I said, `What are you talking about, vindictive? We were just going to do our job. What does that mean?' And then suddenly it struck me that somebody was trying to send word out that we should not be unduly harsh with Nixon on this night, and most of my colleagues weren't, in fact. One after another--Severeid, Rather and the rest of them--made remarks about, `This is maybe his finest hour, the--the way his resignation and the way he's leaving,' all the rest of it--everybody except Roger Mudd, who was up on Capitol Hill and, presumably, was not given these marching orders to be very nice.
Well, and the big "Political Obituary," which--which we had done, was scrapped, and, in general, I thought CBS behaved--which I'd done very well in covering this up until that point--was behaving in a very peculiar fashion, as though there was a kind of a spoken or unspoken understanding with Nixon that, `We'll be nice to you. You be nice to us.' And, indeed, that was the way it seemed.
Well, I expressed my suspicions a--about that evening in public, which is something you don't do if you hope to advance your career, and--I expressed it, and they got very, very angry with me. And that probably--this was 1974; this was two years before the final spit-up--probably that episode of my having lost confidence in CBS at the climax of the whole Nixon re--the whole Nixon episode probably caused more anger against me and probably laid the way for my being fired or resigned, however you want to put it.
LAMB: You say in your book--you say, `I expressed my dark suspicion in a newspaper interview in Denver...'
Mr. SCHORR: Yes.
LAMB: `...in a bull session with students at Duke University.'
Mr. SCHORR: Yes.
LAMB: And the next line is, `Severeid never spoke to me again.'
Mr. SCHORR: Yes.
Mr. SCHORR: Never.
LAMB: Did he speak to others about you?
Mr. SCHORR: Oh, yes. Oh, yes.
LAMB: What was--what'd he say? I mean, what--what--why was he so mad?
Mr. SCHORR: Well, he was mad because I--I--I said that--that Severeid had--ha--had, really, kind of pulled back and that Severeid, you know--I quo--you know, in my--in my book I wrote way back then, I quoted what Severeid said, which I no longer remember word for word, but it was awfully soft about somebody who had done, I thought, terrible things. And--and--and the general idea that I was casting blame and indicating that there was some kind of little conspiracy there, which I really thought there was, in fact--Severeid, who had been a friend of mine, apparently took that very, very badly. And I don't--I'm not surprised that--that he did. And as I heard it said, he never wanted to talk to me again.
LAMB: Go back to the Intelligence Committee and the C--not directly involved, but the CIA. There's a moment in your book when Richard Helms comes out to the microphones and you're standing there, and he says things to you--he uses a word I can't use here.
Mr. SCHORR: I can't either right now.
LAMB: But it's in the book.
Mr. SCHORR: Well, it was a--it was a thing you could...
LAMB: Ta--explain that. What was that situation?
Mr. SCHORR: Well, I broke a story, probably the most important story I ever--after Watergate, came back and then I ha--my assignment became what we called Son of Watergate. Around that time, Seymour Hersh, New York Times, had broken a couple of very important stories: one about the fact that the CIA was used for domestic surveillance of anti-war people; secondly, a story from Chile about the attempt of--the attempt to overthrow, again, the left-leaning president of Chile. And since my Watergate assignment was now over, CBS said, `Why don't you take on some of this CIA stuff and see if you can develop stories like--of the kind that Hersh is doing in The New York Times?' And so I became the CIA-FBI intelligence correspondent.
In the--in the course of that, I managed to break what I thought then was an important story, and that was that the CIA had, at some point, been involved in assassination conspiracies. I went to see Bill Colby, the director of the CIA, and asked him whether `you people were ever ra--involved in assassinations.' And he said, `Not anymore.' I went, `Oh.' So eventually I went on the air with a report that President Ford had expressed some concern about the--the--his fear that the involvement of the CIA in assassination conspiracy would come out and cause a great furor.
Well, as a result of that, the Senate Intelligence Committee felt itself obliged, along with a new commission headed by Vice President Rockefeller--obliged to go into that. They were propelled into an investigation of assassination conspiracies, the chief one of which was against Fidel Castro, of course. And with the result that Richard Helms, who had been both first deputy and then director of the CIA during the period when these things were happening and who was now our ambassador in Tehran, was called back twice from there to testify. And I can realize, as I look back on it, that he associated me with all the trouble that had been caused for him, he wouldn't have had to done ha--had I not broken that story.
And so when he came to testify before the Rockefeller Co--Committee, out in Rockefeller's office in the old executive office building, he came out, and I was staked out there with other television correspondents, with cameras ready, who would ask all the witnesses when they came out would they care to say something in front of our microphones. And so when--when Helms came out of the meeting, after three, four hours of testimony, which could not have been very pleasant for him, came out, and I, unknowing, went up to him, `Mr. Helms, can you come here while we have the microphones?' And he turned to me, and he began calling me these unprintable and certainly unrepeatable names tha--that you have referred to. And with the wire services all around, the next story in the paper the next day was the way in which Richard Helms had denounced me.
We later made our peace, as, in--indeed, I in the end made peace with all my adversaries of those times, up to and including Nixon. And--and now Dick Helms and I can have lunch. We can talk about playing tennis. Maybe both of us are now too old to really play it very well. But somehow that era is gone, and somehow you look back on it and say, `That was then.'
LAMB: I--I was struck, though, by the word that he used and wondered why, as CIA director, he may be using language like that in a public place like that. I mean, I don't mean to be a prude, but I just was--were--did it surprise you?
Mr. SCHORR: Yes. It bowled me over. I ha--I was totally unexpected that would come at--first of all, that he would begin denoucing me as a person at all. I hadn't met--not made that connection that was in his mind, clearly; that he would not have been standing there had I not broken that story. And so he was--he was very, very angry. Maybe he had a right to be.
LAMB: No. Yeah, not to play games, but the word that he used begins with a C. Later on in your book, you--you talk about collaborating with the CIA.
Mr. SCHORR: Yes.
LAMB: What does that mean? Did--did you collaborate with the CIA?
Mr. SCHORR: Yeah. I collaborated with the CIA the way I--use the word collaborate--the way I collaborated with the State Department, the way I collaborated with anybody in government. If you're stationed abroad, as I was for about 20 years or so--Soviet Union, Germany, going to countries like Poland, Hungary and all the rest of it--you want to go and talk to American representatives there. I would talk to people in a--in the embassy, then I would also try to find out who was the CIA station chief, because they were frequently better informed for my purposes than--than the State Department people.
And I--I once wrote a p--I was accused, you know, of collaborating with the CIA. I said, `CIA's an organ of the American government; has information which I may want and if I can get, I hope to get it.' A--and there were other ca--one case, for example, CBS wanted me to do a documentary on the spy scare in Germany. There was a period in West Germany when every third person there seemed to be an East German spy, and they were not taking it seriously enough, and I was asked to do a documentary about it. And the CIA was also concerned about the--the Germans not really taking seriously enough the spy menace, offered to help me, and they managed to get me to meet with an East German defector--an East German intelligence defector from the--the Stasi, as their service was called, and they arranged for me to be able to interview him.
Well, that was very helpful. If it served their purpose to give me what I needed for a documentary that I was doing, that's fine. And at some point, I--I wrote a piece for The New York Times in which I said, you know, `Of course we cooperate with the CIA. The question is only: Do you ever try to get information--give them information which you have not already broadcast or will not soon be broadcasting? Have you ever tried to get rewarded for it; and that is to say, to be paid for it?' If you are merely dealing with CIA personnel in the same way that you would deal with any foreign service personnel, as--as sources of information, sources of possible help, why not? Yes, and that's true, I did do that.
LAMB: Did they ever offer you any money, and did you ever take any money?
Mr. SCHORR: They never offered me money, and I never took any money. I learned later, from ge--from a freedom of information application, what ch--where I got my CIA file, that at one point Allen Dulles was cons--when I was in the Soviet Union and I was doing a lot of reporting for the Soviet Union and came back from there, it--it appears that there was some discussion as to whether to offer me a job as a Soviet analyst in the CIA. Somehow before the offer was made, they thought better of it.
LAMB: The greatest ethical dilemma in your career: Poland, Russia and Jewish immigrants.
Mr. SCHORR: 1959 I was working on a documentary for Ed Murrow's "CBS Reports" of what Poland was like now, after the war, after Stalin, a little bit of freedom, all of that. But I'm there with the camera crew, producer, and we spent, oh, a month roaming around the country, just getting a feeling for what Poland is like. We did schools, we did agricultural settlements, we got all kinds of things. And in the course of our wandering around the country, we came--in a little town near the Soviet border, we came upon a very strange sight of a group of people piled on top of horse-drawn wagons with what seemed to be all their possessions in a kind of a caravan. It was like a scene from "Fiddler on the Roof."
And I went up to them and found that they were Jews who spoke Polish and Yiddish, and I interviewed them in Yiddish, which I could do for the purpose. And they explained that they had lived in a little piece of Poland, which had been annexed by the Soviet Union at the end of the war, and they were--felt trapped there and that they were now free. They had been--gone to Poland, and they were told they could go on to Israel. And they were getting ready to go to station to Vienna, from Vienna to Israel. And I thought it was quite remarkable because, as far as I knew at that time, they--there was no Jewish emigration from the Soviet satellite empire allowed in order not to antagonize the Arabs, right?
So I thought it was quite peculiar--went back to Warsaw and went to see the Israeli minister, who was a friend of mine, and I said, `I saw a bunch of Jews going on their way to Israel. How--how is that possible?' He said, `You saw them? You interviewed? You have film of them saying that?' (Nods yes) `Well, Mr. Schorr, since you know so much, I will tell you some more, and then you decide what you will do. These people come from a part of Poland annexed by the Soviet Union. They hate to be there. They want to leave. We managed to make a very confidential arrangements--arran--arrangement among the Israeli, Polish and Soviet governments that they would be, quote, "repatriated," unquote, to Poland, but would not stay in Poland, but would then leave for Israel. Soviets said, "We'll go for that and we'll do it, unless it becomes known. If it becomes known, it ends."'
`And so,' he said, `go and do your story, and you will leave a few thousand Jews in the Soviet Union, if that's what you want to do.' And I felt quite tormented by that, and, you know--and had this can of 16mm film there, and I kept looking at it. We were shipping film every day of--of what we were doing, and I said, `Let me hold on to this for a moment.' And I held on to it for a day, two, three, four days, never quite deciding that I wouldn't use it, but not doing anything about it. I--I avoided making a principled decision. I just allowed myself to remain confused about it. And, in the end, we didn't ship it, and we didn't include it in our documentary.
When I came home to New York, I went to see Murrow, feeling a little guilty, and I told him the story, and I told him that I had, more or less, suppressed that little interesting fill-up that would go in the story about Poland. And Ed said, `I understand.'
LAMB: Why would it have been ethical to have reported that if it led to their deaths or led to their inability to leave totalitarian situations?
Mr. SCHORR: Brian, that's--that's the kind of question that's haunted me all my life. See, I have worked on this ethic: that what I legitimately--legitimately come by, I have no right to suppress. I'm an agent of readers, listeners and so forth. And I don't cen--can't censor myself. Oh, if it's bad taste. Oh, it--you know, w--I know that we do--don't do things like publishing names of rape victims or certain kind of constraints on what we do. But who am I that I may deny legitimate information to the people who've sent me there to find out what's going on for them? Is it any skin off me that a few thousand Jews won't get where they want to go? Maybe that was going to come out anyway. I don't know.
It is--it--a--a haunting dilemma, and although I acted at the time, I would not, at this point, say that I knew what I was doing or why I was doing. I would not--I would not justify my own actions. I just did it.
LAMB: Let me ask about that, because you mention in here that Joe Califano was your attorney and your friend...
Mr. SCHORR: Yeah, yeah.
LAMB: ...and that Jim Scheuer, the congressman from New York, was where you--in his home, you met your wife.
Mr. SCHORR: Correct.
LAMB: What if you learned something about either one of those people? You think you'd report it?
Mr. SCHORR: Well, I--I--it depend--it depend--that's another good question. It depends on the circumstances. If you--these are social--social relations, as such to me, are--I regard as privileged. People have to be able to talk freely to each other. And so I would sometimes say, `On social, you may talk freely; it's off the record.' So what you're leading to is the other ethic, the off-the-record ethic. How far should a reporter go in accepting and being willing to enforce off-the-record confidences? And that is a very subtle and can be a very, very big problem.
It's not as big a problem for me as it is for a lot of people I know because I've, generally, in this trade been called a quintessential outsider; that is to say, I don't hang around the salons. I don't hang around these little places where very important people tell you little tidbits of things, so on and so forth. I generally come by my information in ways that I don't have to--have to worry about. But, yeah, every once in a while, somebody says to you, `You're wrong, and in order for you to know that you're wrong about this or that, you'll have to accept an off-the-record confidence.' And if I consider it important enough to do, then I will, on occasion, do it. I don't have a rule of thumb. After all of these years, each case is another case.
LAMB: Barry Goldwater, William Paley, General William Quinn and Sally Quinn...
Mr. SCHORR: Yes. What do they add up to?
Mr. SCHORR: Stationed in Germany--and I happened to be in Germany in 1964 on the eve of the Republican National Convention in San Francisco, where it was clear that Senator Barry Goldwater was going to be nominated. And CBS asked me to, for the Saturday evening program--television program just before the convention opened, to do a little synopsis of what was going on in Germany. It was understood that there were--German right-wing people were greeting the possibility of having a right-wing person elected president, and what--what was the view from Germany? And so I--I did that.
In the course of looking into that, I discovered that Senator Goldwater had plans immediately after his nomination to fly to Stuttgart, Germany, and spend a vacation there with his old bridge-playing friend, General Bill Quinn. Now where were they going to do this? They were going to do this at what was now an American recreation center, Berchtesgaden, but which had also been Hitler's favorite retreat be--before the end of the--before the end of the war. So the idea of somebody who was running for president of the United States would spend his first day as candidate flying off to Hitler's favorite base in Germany struck me as very odd, and I expressed that in--in the story that I did.
It went on the air on that Saturday night. Goldwater took it very badly. Goldwater thought th--that I was part of some Eisenhower-Paley plot against him. This all had to do with the fact that Bill Scranton of Pennsylvania was still fighting to try to get a nomination, without much hope. It was believed, however, that he was supported by--by Eisenhower, and Paley was a friend of Eisenhower. So you could build a conspiracy on--but I didn't know at that time, but my--but my story seemed to fit into that pattern. And so he got very angry, Goldwater did, and he called a press conference, denounced us in not terms as--as unprintable as Dick Helms', but reasonably unprintable. And--and there was I having made trouble for CBS.
Now this was 1964. Twelve years later, when I left CBS and I wanted to write a book. Because I am the kind of reporter I am, wanted not only my view of things involving me, but the view of my antagonists. I went and did an interview with Bill Paley on tape. He had his own tape recorder running; I had my tape recorder running. And the first--first question was, `Mr. Paley, why did you want to fire me?' He said, `Dan, I've been trying to fire you for 12 years, ever since Goldwater.'
LAMB: Was he a supporter of Barry Goldwater's in a big way?
Mr. SCHORR: No, he was not a supporter. He was a--he was a--he was a supporter--he would have been a supporter of--of Scranton--o--of Governor Scranton, because he was a friend of Eisenhower. But that was particularly--that was e--exactly what made him so vulnerable, was that you could build all of that into an anti-Goldwater conspiracy.
LAMB: You allude in here to another practice during the Martin Luther King years and the demonstrations...
Mr. SCHORR: Yes.
LAMB: ...of getting Stokely Carmichaels of this world to be...
Mr. SCHORR: Yes.
Mr. SCHORR: Yes.
LAMB: First let me ask you this, because you kind of alluded to it in the book. Did you used to get paid at CBS on the num--by the number of times you'd go on the air?
Mr. SCHORR: No.
LAMB: You never got a fee...
Mr. SCHORR: Oh, no.
LAMB: ...if you got your--on the evening news?
Mr. SCHORR: Oh, no. Oh, the idea of fees for per--for performance went out somewhere in the--in the--in the '50s.
LAMB: You never had that on television.
Mr. SCHORR: But--but to be perfectly frank with you, Brian, the reward that one seeks in television is not money, it's exposure.
Mr. SCHORR: I wanted to be on television.
Mr. SCHORR: Because it's the name of the game. Wh--what are you there for? I mean, everybody has a story. You have a 23, 24 minute "CBS Evening News," and everybody has something he wants to get on the air, and pushes very--pushes very hard to get on the air, and I at that time having been assigned to cover the civil rights struggle and all of that, it became immediately apparent to me--for a while, we--I covered hearings where people proposed a Marshall Plan for the cities. They proposed doing things, desegregation, a whole lot of other things.
Television tends to get rather bored with do-good things after a while. They want to hear something which will make their listeners sort of sit up and take notice and all the rest of it, which meant that the kind of thing that got on the--that got on the air, if you wanted to get on the air, was having somebody who said, `Burn, baby, burn,' or `We're going to burn down your cities,' or `We're going to wreck this or that,' or `We're going to tear up this.' All of that was marvelous, and you could get that kind of thing from people like Stokley Carmichael or H. Rap Brown, who managed to talk a militant language which worked for them and works for us, the correspondent, because they would, over something like that, `Oh, boy, they--oh, boy, he--that's really rough,' and all--and all the rest of it.
And so to complete that story, in February of 1968, the Reverend Martin Luther King came to Washington to hold a press conference and announce a poor people's march on Washington, which he was organizing but did not live to see himself, gave a press conference. My colleagues and I from the networks were there, and he told us what was planned. They would set up a place called Resurrection City in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, and they would try to bring home to America the problem of poverty in America.
And so what did we do? We did what we normally did: `How violent do you plan to be?' `Are you going to stop--going to block the bridges, the way they're doing in the anti-Vietnam moratorium march?' And he would fend off these questions. Finally when they--when the press conference was over, my--my camera crew was packing up; I waited for them to go back to them--the office with them, and I noticed King, Dr. King, sitting there on--on the podium, looking very, very sad. And I walked up and said, `You don't seem happy, sir.' He said, `No Mr. Schorr, I'm not happy, and you're part of the reason.' And he said, `You have tried to take this press conference and tried to get me to say militant things and violent things, but I'm trying to be anti-violence, and you keep doing that and you'll put on television all the most militant people in our movement, and you will elect them as our leaders. And then there'll be a riot here or a riot there soon, and you will not know the part that you played in promoting that.' A little shudder went through me, and I recognized that he had a point there.
LAMB: If you had it to do over again, would you not ask those questions?
Mr. SCHORR: I can't sor--I--I--it--it's so nice to say now that I'm old and wise, I know better and so on and so forth. I remember myself as somebody very, very anxious to get on the air and the way to get on the air was with militant people.
LAMB: Another little Bill Paley story in here; you talk about an interview that you had whe--where you explained to him about reverse shots.
Mr. SCHORR: Oh, yeah.
LAMB: And--yeah, but then I want to quote what you said. You said Bill Paley did not understand, quote, "that television relies on small deceptions"...
Mr. SCHORR: Yes.
Mr. SCHORR: Yes.
LAMB: Explain all that.
Mr. SCHORR: Well, I'll explain all that. In 1953, when I was offered this job to come to work at--at CBS, and leave the world of newspapers, I came--I came to New York and I looked at television and I saw people on--and I saw what they were doing and realized there were talents there which were not like just the talents of being able to write a story. And so I asked a young producer, I said, `You know, for a newspaper man going into television news, what is the secret of success?' Right? He looked at me and he said, `The secret of success is sincerity. If you can fake that, you got it made.' Right? Those were my first words.
Then I began to discover that in order to be able to do the news on television, you have to play along with little bits of illusion. I mean, not only illusion of putting makeup on you to make you look a little nicer than you ordinarily look, or to be able to have the right camera angle and all the rest of it, learn to use the TelePrompTer, which is a special art in itself that requires that when you look at a TelePrompTer, you have to--every minute or so look down, because it seems more natural. You can't be expected to remember everything, so there's nothing there to look at, but the mere gesture of looking down makes it seem much more natural. And then this qu--this whole business of--of the--of the so-called cutaway shots, the reaction shots.
And the st--and the story that you were alluding to is the story of my having done a documentary on East Germany for CBS that concluded with an interview with the East German Communist boss Walter Ulbricht, who did--who took unkindly to some of the questions that I asked and eventually stopped in a great rage, began bawling me out in German and finally said, `Schluss ist beenden,' `This interview is over,' and stalked out of the room, with the camera running, which I thought was wonderful, because that was a better ending than I could have supplied to that kind of thing.
And when shortly thereafter, the show was--went on the air and shortly thereafter, Bill Paley had his annual meeting with European correspondents in Paris, and at this--on this occasion, `Now, Dan, that was--that was a great show you did on East Germany. And you know what impressed me most about it?' I said, `No, sir.' He said, `It was the calm, serene look that you kept giving this guy when he was bawling you out.' And I giggled. I said, `Sir, you understand that the shots that you saw of me reacting were shot long after he had left the room.' And Paley said, `How do you do that?' I said, `Well, they're called reaction shots, you know. They were standard reaction shots that we do at the end of every interview that we do.' He said, `Show me reaction shots.'
My colleagues around the table were getting a little edgy at this point. I said, `All right, the boss wants reaction shots. Sir, it's like this, see. You do an interview, and at the end of the interview, you e--you either have sympathized with the person you interviewed or you don't care much about it or you don't like him at all. So you basically use three reaction shots, all within a minute. One is for the interview that you've been very sympathe--very sympathetic, and you go (nods). One is a kind of neutral one (stares). One is, for a guy like Ulbricht, you go (looks sour), you know, let it be known that you--you don't approve of that.'
Paley says to me, `But is that honest?' Well, it's a great question, but this was his candy store where I learned to do these things. So I said, `Sir, it's part of the illusion. We have to have--this--we're--we're in an entertaining business occupying a small corner of it in which we try to tell people what's going on in the world, but we have to use the tools of television in order to be able to do it. And it may not be quite honest, but it's what we do.'
LAMB: Did you agree with it?
Mr. SCHORR: Did I agree with it?
LAMB: The practice.
Mr. SCHORR: In the end, it became so routine and so normal--there comes a time when you do things often enough, you don't think about them anymore. It--it's so--did I after that time do things with cutaways, reaction shots? Yes, sir, I did.
LAMB: How--hypothetical--how can a correspondent influence a story with their own personal views if he or she wants to?
Mr. SCHORR: Well, the--there's a very crucial 15 or 20 seconds which is the amount of time you're given at the end of a produced piece where you stand in front of the camera and sum up. And you can, in those 20 seconds, indicate that while you reported what these people had said, so on and so forth, there's a vast wealth of public opinion that doesn't believe that, or does believe that, or that this will--you can point the story in a certain direction in those last 15 or 20 seconds.
I mean, I--I was well known at--at CBS for be abe--being able to use the end of--that they would somehow--would shoot the end before I had put the story together. And one of which involved the investigation of assassination conspiracies where they ultimately discovered that while they had talked about and often planned assassination, they had never really succeeded in--in assassinating anybody, which was very odd, and at the press conference announcing all these results, I stood up in front of the camera to do my close. It was, `So it turns out that Richard Helms and his people never assassinated anybody, but boy, it wasn't for want of trying.' And that--those 10, 15 seconds give a thrust to all the rest.
LAMB: Did anybody at CBS News ever say to you, `Don't do that'?
Mr. SCHORR: Well, it wa--it was more like everything that I--that had to be edited in one way or another, and occasion--they didn't--they would nev--no, I think it was accepted as part of the game, it's the way you are compensated for how hard you've worked on the rest of the story.
LAMB: But I mean, you--you got the letters. You heard how upset some people were when they would see correspondents that last 10, 15 seconds.
Mr. SCHORR: Yes.
LAMB: I mean, but it never--but a--never an issue when you worked there. I mean, that was not a...
Mr. SCHORR: No, not to my knowledge, but you know--but CBS in--in--in its glory days was very independent, and--and proud of the fact that their correspondents had a depth of understanding of a story better than the other networks and all of that. And so part of that was--until, for example, Paley, under great pressure from the White House, once abolished something which we did very well called instant analysis. We'd come on after Nixon, several of us, Rather, Mudd, or--and we'd do analysis. The White House didn't like our analysis, and they put a lot of pressure on Paley, and Paley for a while abolished instant analysis.
LAMB: Dan Schorr, you quote in here, Dick Salant, former president of CBS News, saying you're "the greatest reporter he ever had."
Mr. SCHORR: That's not--yeah, but he also--thank you for that quote--but he also said I was one of the most difficult people he'd ever had as well. Yeah, he was--he was very--he was very--once I was gone, and he was getting ready to write his memoirs and everything, he became very, very kind to people--people do. He was a friend of mine. We had--we had the most awful tussles between us at times, and yet he was, as--as a head of CBS News, was clearly a protector and defender of our institution on the whole, and I would not like that to be forgotten.
LAMB: This August the 31st, 2001, you'll be 85 years old.
Mr. SCHORR: Yes.
LAMB: Did you ever think you would be an active, working journalist at this age?
Mr. SCHORR: No, I didn't. No, I didn't.
LAMB: How do you feel? How does it--what's it like? How do you look at the world differently today than you did 35 years ago?
Mr. SCHORR: Well, fi--first of all, I decided to ma--I decided to make an asset of my age, and the way I do that is to let it be known that what people read about in history books--if they do read about it in history books--most of these things I saw, I was present at, I learned about, I was alive at the time. And so now at NPR, where I lead a much more quiet life than I led at either CBS or at CNN, people accept me as the--if not the sage, at least a person who is the collective history, the memory, and they'll come in and ask me questions about what happened with--with Joe McCarthy, what happened--one person came in once and said, `Dan, remind me. Did you cover the Spanish-American War? No, you didn't. I guess you d--that was the--in eight--1898. That--excuse me,' and all the rest of it.
But--but--but for the rest, I like to--I like to write things in which I trade on my age and the fact that I've been there at times, 50 years ago, 60 years ago.
LAMB: You get nine minutes on Saturday morning, right after the show starts, with Scott Simon.
Mr. SCHORR: Yes.
LAMB: There was a time when that had an influence on a president, those nine minutes.
Mr. SCHORR: Well, I--I--yeah. I think--I--I think what you're referring to is this: For 15 years now, Scott Simon and I have covered the week's news on Saturday morning, starting after the newscast at 9:06 AM Eastern time. Somewhere about the second or third year into the administration of President Clinton, he decided he wanted to give a radio talk on Saturday morning, and experimented with what would be the right time. For a couple of weeks, he did it at 9:06 AM, at precisely the moment when we were on the air. I--more as a joke than anything else, I thought--wrote him a letter, and said `Mr. President, I don't know if you're aware that you are speaking at the same time that we are speaking,' and so on, `and of course, you have a right to do that if you want to do that, but it is not my idea of putting people first.' I didn't hear anything for a while, and then I heard from--George Stephanopoulos called up and said, `Hey, we were having a meeting to decide on a--on a permanent time for the president's talk on Saturday morning, and somebody said, "Well, how about 9:06? That seems to be a pretty good time." You know what the president said? "No, we can't do that. We can't do that to Dan Schorr." '
LAMB: They changed it.
Mr. SCHORR: Huh? They changed it to 10:00. They--they changed it. I--is that power or what?
LAMB: Quarter of a century at CBS, six years at CNN, how many years--15 years at NPR?
Mr. SCHORR: Fifteen years now at NPR.
LEONARD: At CNN, what was your relationship with Ted Turner?
Mr. SCHORR: It wa--it was--it was rather mixed. At the beginning, I was a--his first editorial employee, when he decided to create CNN, and we became very friendly for a while, on a quite personal basis. In the end, I don't know what happened, but there was--I--I'd taken objection to some of the things he did, as for example, he had this idea that he wanted to have a junk bond buying out CBS. He wanted to own CBS, and the cost of that he asked the late, former Governor John Connolly to be--get together some Texas oil money to help him do that. Then in order to be nice to John Connolly, arranged, during the political conventions, to have John Connolly as a guest commentator, and more than that, as a guest commentator seated next to me, so that I would give him th--th--th--this whole blessing of being a journalist. I said I wouldn't do that. I wouldn't do that. I--he's a politician--you may like or not like him as a politician, he's not a journalist. And when the--they took exception to that. They thought I was not being sufficiently cooperative.
LAMB: What's the difference between a journalist who has personal views, opinions--and you give them all through this book--and a politician who has personal views and opinions? Why couldn't you two sit side by side and give your opinions?
Mr. SCHORR: Because when I give my personal opinions, I choose more--usually it's to say viewpoints or analysis, but if you--I won't argue about the word `opinion'--but when I do, it is what does this thing mean and how do I explain it to the people? And that's my whole purpose. When a politician does it, he has a different purpose. He wants to run for office, he wants to influence some people in a certain way, and therefore, however respectable the position of a politician is, which I don't always think is very resp--but never mind. Whatever it is, a politician has a different motive, has a different purpose in mind than I have.
LAMB: Well, then what's the difference, though, between a journalist who has personal opinions and his objective is to get on television, as you said, and make lots of money, vs. a politician whose objective is to get power and then make lots of money? I mean, it comes down to you got two human beings with views. Why do we make such a distinction between the two?
Mr. SCHORR: I make a distinction--I make a--see, and I'm not even very happy about the whole revolving door that goes on, the people like George Stephanopoulos who--who left the White House, ended up on ABC and for a while, at least, I had the impression that he was delivering on--for ABC the same kind of thing he would be saying if he were speaking on behalf of Clinton at the White House. I think it's very confusing. I think that now and then, some people make--make that change and do it pretty well. I think Bill Safire has done a great job of going from Nixon's speechwriter to columnist, and all of that. But I do think that there really is a difference between people to whom information has no other purpose than enlightenment in one form or another--you may not think--you may not like my form of enlightenment, but I'm not trying to influence any policy, any election or anything else. I'm just trying to tell you how I think it is, and when John Connolly does it, he has other motives in mind.
LAMB: You said at Ted Turner's urging, you were asked to testify before a House committee on violence.
Mr. SCHORR: Yeah. Right.
LAMB: And then he went on the air with an editorial on violence.
Mr. SCHORR: Right.
LAMB: Why would you testify, as a news person, about violence?
Mr. SCHORR: Well, that's a good question, and I--I really--I really thought a great deal about it as to whether I should or not, and finally decided I should, because the question of violence on television is one that concerns me a great deal, in part because I had some young children growing up at that time, and--and--and I agreed to do it. It's fair to ask whether I should get into the game of testifying when I may have to cover the testimony of others on this subject. That's fair.
LAMB: But Ted Turner was against violence, but he went on then to put wrestling on television, later on.
Mr. SCHORR: That's right. But he also did something else. When he vi--he--we had a little set-to with him even on the question of violence. Well, we agreed pretty much that something should be done about violence on television. He did an editorial of his own on the network, and saying that if you agree with me there's too much violence to television, you write to your congressman and tell him to do something about it. Well, now we're raising the First Amendment question. I believe something should be done about it, but by an outraged public. I don't believe the Congress should do anything, because the Constitution said that Congress shall make no law, and--and so I could not explain to--to Turner that when you talk about Congress should do something about it, you've lost me, because you've lost me on First Amendment grounds. And so we had a little argument about that, too.
LAMB: A couple of things, some of them big, some of them small. You taught me where the word MiG came from...
Mr. SCHORR: Yeah.
LAMB: ...the MiG aircraft.
Mr. SCHORR: Yeah.
LAMB: Where did it come from?
Mr. SCHORR: Well, this all happened bec--because I was cover--I was--I was recently back to Havana, where 40 years ago, I was there when Deputy Prime Minister Anastas Mikoyan of the Soviet Union came on the first important official Soviet visit to Castro, and I recalled this to him only recently when I was in Havana again, and as you remember that the question was whether you were going to get MiG airplanes from the Soviet Union. He's `Right.' He said, `And remember, you were talking to the right man,' because Mikoyan's brother was a designer of the MiG. The M-I-G--Mi is Mikoyan, and the G is Gurevich. Those were the two designers of the MiG.
LAMB: You lost two-thirds of your stomach.
Mr. SCHORR: A large part of my professional life was clouded by the fact that I had a duodenal ulcer. An ulcer was not just a physical problem; what it was, was that it would interfere with my making appointments, with my--my social life, with my planning trips, because I never knew when it was going to act up. And so I was always afraid--and--and therefore lived my life on--on a short-term basis, until finally they found an ulcer which was close to perforating. I went to the hospital, had two-thirds of my stomach removed. I don't think it would have to happen today.
LAMB: What year?
Mr. SCHORR: They know more about ulcers--1955--and--1965--and--and once I was rid of the ulcer, my whole life changed. I m--in fact, you know, I often wonder why it was I was near the age of 50 and had never been married, and I think it was in part because when you worry about that ulcer, you can't make commitments. It was very interesting that a year after that operation, I met the woman who is now my wife, and didn't--I was able to make dinner appointments without worrying whether I'd have an ulcer attack when the time for dinner came.
LAMB: And your wife's name was?
Mr. SCHORR: Wa--Lisbeth Bamberger.
LAMB: You call her?
Mr. SCHORR: I call her Lee.
LAMB: Where did you meet her?
Mr. SCHORR: At the home of Congressman Jim Scheuer who had--was having a dinner party to which I was invited. Towards the very end, I ran into her there. She was working then for the anti-poverty program, the Office of Economic Opportunity, which was part of my beat, so you know, I first thought, at least a source.
LAMB: How old, today, is Jonathan and Lisa?
Mr. SCHORR: Thirty--34 and just about 31.
LAMB: And what do they do?
Mr. SCHORR: Jonathan is--has been a journalist, a newspaper journalist; doesn't like electronic journalism. Lives in Oakland, California, and recently got a grant to write a book about charter schools in Oakland.
Lisa is in Boston, a graduate of Harvard, and she is very busy working for a consulting firm which deals with taking hard-to-employ people and helping them get employed.
LAMB: Mr. Khrushchev of Russia.
Mr. SCHORR: Yes.
LAMB: `The most fascinating person I've ever met.'
Mr. SCHORR: Correct.
Mr. SCHORR: Well, understand that when I arrived in Moscow in 1955 to open the CBS bureau there, I did not know what to expect. I knew mainly of the years of Stalin, and Stalin had died in 1953 and the Soviet Union was in the process of change which I didn't fully understand. Well, you soon became clear that this awkward, peasant-like but clever, aggressive fel--fellow, Nikita Khrushchev, had different things in mind. He wanted to bring the Soviet Union somehow into the modern age while still protecting communism, and because he--he was very outgoing, would turn up at diplomatic receptions all the time, and so it was possible to see him almost every three or four days and check with him on what was going on.
There was--he finally agreed to do a television interview. He appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation" from his office in the Kremlin, the first ever interview with a Soviet leader on--on television, even on Soviet television, and wherever he went, I would go. I was sort of a Soviet version of a White House correspondent, which he regarded as very amusing, sometimes referring to me as his Sputnik, because I was in orbit around him all the time.
And then, if we have time, there was one very funny story, which was just--and that wsa--that was--that was--that was this: 1956 was a very tense time. Hungary was going up in flames, there was a war being fought over the Suez in the Middle East, and Khrushchev came back from an unusually long vacation in October amid rumors that the Soviet Central Committee was going to meet and take some drastic action of some kind on either Hungary or the Middle East, send troops to Egypt or something like that. We couldn't even find out under the conditions we were in if the Central Committee was meeting or was going to meet. And so because of my rather special relationship with Khrushchev, I undertook to find out at a reception.
So I went up to him and we talked for about 10 minutes about his vacation. He had had Tito with him, they'd hunted in the Crimea and all the rest. Finally I said, `Mr. Khrushchev, you think I could go down to the Crimea? It must be beautiful there now.' You know `(Russian spoken), of course you can.' Motioned to somebody, just--`But I have a problem. Maybe you can even help me with the problem. My capitalist bosses back in New York, CBS, have told me that I can't leave Moscow because of rumors that there's going to be a Central Committee meeting, and I don't even know what to tell them. So I was wondering'--and he lowered his voice very theatrically and said, `You want to go on vacation, Mr. Schorr? When?' `Tomorrow.' `For how long?' `Two weeks.' `And you are afraid that in those two weeks, you may miss a meeting of the Central Committee?' `Exactly.' He said, `You can go on your vacation.' `You mean, you're not going to'--`Mr. Schorr, if absolutely necessary, we'll have the meeting without you.'
LAMB: This is the cover of the book. Our guest has been Dan Schorr; for six years in the making, this book, called "Staying Tuned: A Life in Journalism." Thank you very much.
Mr. SCHORR: Thank you.
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