Howard K. Smith

By | Feb 15, 2012

To many the old time news anchors are Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather and the late Peter Jennings. There has been a long line of news men that preceded them. One of these men, Howard K. Smith, was born on May 12, 1914.

Before the American’s joined in World War II he was a newsman in Germany working for CBS and Edward R. Marrow. He had the chance to interview many Nazis, including the Chief, Adolf Hitler. He was one of the last American reporters in Germany before they threw him out of the country, leaving for Switzerland on December 6, 1941. Last Train from Berlin: An Eye-Witness Account of Germany at War published in 1942 was his account of his observation on Germany in the year before he left.

In 1944, having not to be able to leave Switzerland and delivering reports from there, he was able to join the Allied forces as the crossed the Rhine River into Berlin. For CBS he reported on the surrender of Germany in 1945. He followed the Nuremberg Trials and was witness to the execution of many Nazi leaders.

By the end of the 1950s he had mover to the Washington DC area reporting on news from the nations capital. When John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon had the first ever televised presidential debates, he was the moderator.

Smith was in his own way a political activist. When doing a documentary on the battle between civil rights forces and the police of Birmingham, Alabama, he concluded the show with a line from Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” CBS Chief William S. Paley did not support him when he was asked to remove the line from the show and quit the network.

From CBS, which was the top news network on television in 1962, he moved to ABC, which was a distant third. By the end of the decade he had become one of the two evening news anchors, first with Frank Reynolds and then with Harry Reasoner remaining on the news desk, where he was one of the first to call for Nixon to resign, until 1976. He moved into retirement in 1979. Smith lived a long retirement dieing on February 15, 2002.


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