Wash Post Obit Skips Liberal Label for Lefty Journalist Daniel Schorr

Washington Post staff writer Patricia Sullivan on Saturday managed to avoid using the word liberal in her front page obituary for left-wing journalist Daniel Schorr. According to Sullivan, Schorr was “a combative broadcast reporter who over six decades broke major national stories while also provoking presidents, foreign leaders, the KGB, the CIA and his bosses at CBS and CNN.”

The fact that in 1973 the then-CBS reporter made Richard Nixon’s enemies list merely confirmed his “outsider status.” In later life, Schorr began contributing commentaries to NPR. Sullivan touted the writer's "gravitas":  

In contrast, his 25 years at NPR went far more smoothly. As a commentator there, his deep experience covering the world gave him the gravitas to offer opinions on everything from the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the 2000 presidential race ("A judicial coup" by "the Gang of Five, philosophically led by archconservative Antonin Scalia") to placing the first decade of the 2000s in historical context.

[Emphasis added] Isn’t this the type of journalism that would logically be labeled as liberal? NPR's obituary managed to use the word:

Some critics of Schorr and NPR felt his analysis veered into opinion — that he had a profoundly liberal take on the world that became more evident over time.

NPR’s David Folkenflik even provided a more balanced look at Schorr’s famous attack on Barry Goldwater during the 1964 presidential campaign:

He was not without controversy. In the early 1960s, Schorr's reporting suggested an amity between Sen. Barry Goldwater, the 1964 Republican presidential candidate, and right-wing political movements in Germany. Goldwater was outraged. Some conservatives hold that against Schorr to this day.

[Emphasis added] Sullivan simply asserted:

Amid the 1964 election, Mr. Schorr enraged Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater when he reported that Goldwater had formed an alliance with some right-wing Germans and planned to spend time at one of Adolf Hitler's retreats.

Earlier this year, Schorr found it "menacing" that Barack Obama's health care legislation might not be passed.

This isn’t the first time Sullivan spun the history of a liberal journalist.  As the MRC’s Tim Graham noted on October 25, 2009, Sullivan portrayed Los Angeles Times reporter Jack Nelson as “driven by his conscience.” Graham wrote:

But that’s not entirely true. Nelson didn’t support revealing hidden facts when his own newspaper dug into Bill Clinton’s use of Arkansas state troopers for sexual conquests. He suggested "right wingers" were wrong to suggest he was so opposed to it that he threatened to resign.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the associate editor for the Media Research Center's NewsBusters.org site.