Nov 21 2009

Time for NPR’s Daniel Schorr to Retire

Published by at 11:19 am under journalism

On timeline for health care bill in the Senate:
SS:
Uh, but of course the debate about the actual nuts and bolts of the legislation, that will go on for weeks or months…
DS:
Oh, that probably won’t start until well after Thanksgiving and it will go on and it’s predicted that it will be a matter of weeks and perhaps months and it’s going to be a real big showdown about whether a big piece of legislation like this can be enacted.
SS: Finally, Dan, Sarah Palin.
DS: Sarah Palin
SS: Bet you’ve seen her this week?
DS: I have seen a lot of her on television this week here and there and, uh, she’s done very well peddling her book.  There’s something about this country: it loves celebrities.  Whatever you may think, not everyone likes her, but some do, but whatever it is…
SS: Quite, quite a few do from the lines I’ve seen!
DS: And quite a few do and they’re on line, some of them even buying books, and this is America: Celebrityhood.
SS: Are we just jealous as fellow authors?
DS: Uh…
SS: I’ve never had lines like that for any of my book readings.
DS: I know, well, you know how it is.

I love Dan Schorr.  He is an absolute lion of journalism.  He was relentless on Watergate, was a Cold War staple in Germany, and is the last of Edward R. Murrow’s Boys that is still reporting.

But, the guy is 93 years old.  Listening to his commentary now is like listening to your great-grandparents.  They have amazing stories about things that happened half a century ago, but aren’t really with it when it comes to today’s news.

I met Schorr several times when I worked at The Brookings Institution.  He usually came to the off-the-record conversations with politicians and dignitaries that spoke there.  The format was an informal conversation, so the table asked lots of questions of the main speaker.  Schorr was always unfailingly polite, but never asked one question in the three years I saw him there.

At the time, I thought it was just his way of processing – lots of listening to different points of view.  Then, BAM, he would come out with some insightful commentary on the weekend.

But, after listening to today’s Weekend Edition Saturday, I think it’s time for him to hang it up.

In the full piece it’s pretty obvious that he is out of it.  He makes a couple of points, but just repeats what Scott Simon says a lot too.  I don’t know if he has Alzheimer’s or dementia, or if he is just getting old.  But either way, it’s tough to hear.  Here is one example, where they discuss the timeline for the health care bill in the Senate:

SS: Uh, but of course the debate about the actual nuts and bolts of the legislation, that will go on for weeks or months…

DS: Oh, that probably won’t start until well after Thanksgiving and it will go on and it’s predicted that it will be a matter of weeks and perhaps months and it’s going to be a real big showdown about whether a big piece of legislation like this can be enacted.

But the heartbreaking part is the end, where the talk about Sarah Palin and her new book:

SS: Finally, Dan, Sarah Palin.

DS: Sarah Palin

SS: Bet you’ve seen her this week?

DS: I have seen a lot of her on television this week here and there and, uh, she’s done very well peddling her book.  There’s something about this country: it loves celebrities.  Whatever you may think, not everyone likes her, but some do, but whatever it is…

SS: Quite, quite a few do from the lines I’ve seen!

DS: And quite a few do and they’re on line, some of them even buying books, and this is America: Celebrityhood.

SS: Are we just jealous as fellow authors?

DS: Uh…

SS: I’ve never had lines like that for any of my book readings.

DS: I know, well, you know how it is.

This just hurts me to listen to.  And, since I respect him so much, I don’t want to hear him rambling on, repeating what other people say.  I don’t want to remember him that way.

So, please, Dan Schorr, do your legacy a favor and retire.

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