Daniel Schorr is used to producers popping into his Washington, D.C., office at National Public Radio to ask, on deadline: Which war came first, Korea or Vietnam? (Answer: Korea.)
But when one asked, “You covered the Spanish-American War, didn’t you?” Schorr couldn’t help but respond, matter-of-factly: “That was 1898.”
“Oh, sorry, of course,” the younger man said, excusing himself.
Schorr, NPR’s senior news analyst, turns 90 next month. He edges out two other national news regulars: CBS’ Mike Wallace, 88, and Andy Rooney, 87.
“I never expected to be working now, but I’ll take it,” says Schorr, whose commentary airs four days a week. He credits his longevity to genes and his wife, Lisbeth.
For 60 years now, Schorr has been living and breathing the news, starting in 1948 as a stringer for The Christian Science Monitor and The New York Times in Europe.
He spent more than two decades at CBS News, which ended turbulently when CBS asked for his resignation in 1976 after he refused to reveal the source of secret documents, which he made public, regarding illegal FBI and CIA activities. The network later asked him to return, but he refused and later joined Ted Turner at CNN.
Schorr landed the first TV interview with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and won three Emmy Awards (and a spot on President Nixon’s “enemies list”) for his CBS Watergate coverage. But “his greatest contribution has come after a lot of other eminent journalists had left the fray,” says Harvard media analyst Alex Jones. “He is a wise old man with all his buttons, and that is a precious resource.”
Last week, NPR — Schorr’s home since 1985 — renamed Studio 2A, where he and Weekend Edition host Scott Simon talk about the news, The Daniel Schorr Studio. It is the network’s only studio named in anyone’s honor.