Daniel Schorr -- An Appreciation
Posted by David Shorr
To have the last name that I have and work on US foreign policy issues means being asked regularly whether you're related to Daniel Schorr. The short answer is no. The longer version is that for both of our (slightly different) family names, they are shortened versions of what used to be longer Eastern European Jewish names. Dan once called me "the guy who doesn't know how to spell his own name."
To work in the Washington foreign policy community has also meant the good fortune of crossing paths with Dan Schorr a handful of times over the years. In that context, I just want to remark on what an unusual person he was. To begin with, Dan was a one-man institutional memory of US diplomacy and national security. In some ways, journalism is an inherently ephemeral business. You know what they say about yesterday's papers. So I mean it as the highest praise to say that Daniel Schorr's commentary and reporting combined insight into the current moment as well as the many moments that preceded it.
That insight came from someone who toiled in the news media for all the right reasons. Notwithstanding Schorr's famous quote about the importance of sincerity, for me, he personified journalism's cardinal virtue: curiosity. Even to someone who's only 'up-close' vantage was to be together at a foreign policy briefing or dinner event, it was clear that Schorr saw his professional mission as a constant challenge to figure out what was going on. For some journalists who reach the heights of the Washington media elite -- not the best, mind you -- the reward is the ability to deal exclusively with a narrow circle of sources in similarly high places. Dan Schorr's restless curiosity immunized him against any such myopia; I doubt it would ever even have occurred to him