Obituary: Edward Morgan

Edward P. Morgan, journalist and broadcaster, born Walla Walla Washington 23 June 1910, correspondent United Press 1934-43, Chicago Daily News 1943-46, Colliers Weekly 1946-48, CBS 1951-54, Director CBS Radio and Television News 1954, news commentator ABC 1955-67, Peabody award 1956, chief correspondent Public Broadcasting Laboratory 1967-68, columnist Newsday Syndicate 1966-75, television commentator ABC 1960-75, George Polk Memorial Award 1965, married 1937 Jane Stolle (one daughter; marriage dissolved 1945), 1960 Katharine Burden Sohier (marriage dissolved), died McLean Virginia 27 January 1993.

EDWARD MORGAN was a brave and compassionate American radio and television commmentator whose only child had a miraculous escape from death when two liners collided off the American coast in 1956.

Ed Morgan began his news career in print journalism. He was in Mexico in 1940 when he scooped other reporters on the assassination of the Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky. He reported from London during the Blitz, and was with the American 5th Army when it entered Rome in 1944. After the war he settled in Washington DC, where he covered a range of assignments, including the White House, for the Columbia Broadcasting System.

Morgan transferred to the American Broadcasting Co in 1985 and for 12 years his powerful commentaries were, in the words of the Washington Post, 'among the most precious nuggets of the 'Golden Age of Radio' '.

Both ABC and his sponsor, the massive trade-union combine formed by the merger of the American Federation of Labor with the Congress of Industrial Organisations, gave Morgan much more latitude than was normal under the system of broadcasting in the United States. He was permitted to criticise such close-to-home matters as the shortcomings of broadcasting and the corruption of some trade unions. In 1956 he won the Peabody award, the US's highest radio accolade, with a citation for his skill and brilliance, and for the public acceptance that his programme had gained.

That same year Morgan broadcast an impassioned and intimate account of a collision off the Massachusetts coast of two luxury liners, the Andrea Doria and the Stockholm. What he did not reveal that evening was that his only child Linda, then 14, had been aboard the Andrea Doria and was believed to have been killed. He had difficulty in controlling his emotion as he spoke of 'the numbness, the wait, the confusion and the conflicting reports'.

Linda was discovered alive the next day having been somehow catapulted on to the deck of the Stockholm when its bow crashed into her cabin. Morgan's broadcast the next day said: 'Within the space of 24 hours, this reporter has been pushed down the elevator shaft to the sub-basement of despair and raised again to the heights of incredible joy.'

In 1967 Fred Friendly, then the Edward R. Murrow Professor of Broadcast Journalism at Columbia University, persuaded the Ford Foundation to subsidise the Public Broadcasting Laboratory, a massive experiment in programming which later evolved into the Public Broadcasting Service, the US's non-commercial network. ABC granted Morgan a year's leave of absence to act as its chief correspondent.

In his last radio commentary before joining PBL he castigated the American media in general, saying:

There is enough wrong in this republic to merit a full exposure daily, if not every hour on the hour. But newspapers run contests to lure readers or keep the ones they have. Broadcasting is driving thoughtful citizens away in droves by fertilising the wastelands of the airwaves with the manure of utter mediocrity. The situation is so bad the commercials, even in their saturation, are often better than the programmes they support.

Ed Morgan spoke and wrote bravely about various contentious issues. One was the relationship between the reporters and American officialdom at Saigon during the Vietnam war, which he described as 'one of the most rancid I have seen in 30 years of reporting'. Another was the free-wheeling campaign of Senator Joseph McCarthy to seek out so-called subversives, which he and his fellow-broadcasters Eric Sevareid and Ed Murrow challenged, despite the cringing attitude of many of their sponsors and broadcasting chiefs. The standards of integrity he displayed before his retirement in 1975 are stlll remembered.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before