Kalb, Bernard 1922–

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Kalb, Bernard 1922–

PERSONAL: Born February 4, 1922, in New York, NY; married; wife's name Phyllis; children: four. Education: City College of New York, B.S.S., 1951; Harvard University, M.A., 1953.

ADDRESSES: Agent—Harry Walker Agency, 355 Lexington Ave., 21st Fl., New York, NY 10017.

CAREER: New York Times, New York, NY, reporter, 1946–60; Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), Moscow correspondent, 1960–63, diplomatic affairs correspondent, 1963–80, anchor of CBS Morning News, 1970–72; National Broadcasting Company (NBC), chief diplomatic affairs correspondent, 1980–85; U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC, assistant secretary of state for public affairs, 1985–86; Cable News Network, panelist on Reliable Sources, 1988–2001; Freedom Forum, moderator of international panels on state of the media, 1997—member of U.S. delegation to Anti-Incitement Committee (part of the Mideast peace process), beginning 1998. DuPont-Columbia awards committee, juror; Hamilton College, Clinton, NY, visiting professor. Appeared as himself in film Dave, 1993. Military service: Served in U.S. Army for two years.

AWARDS, HONORS: Senior fellow, Columbia University Freedom Forum Media Studies Center, 1991–92; Council on Foreign Relations fellowship; Overseas Press Club award for Viet Cong (television documentary); Weintal Prize for lifetime achievement, Georgetown University Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, 2005.


(With brother, Marvin L. Kalb) Kissinger, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1974.

(With Marvin L. Kalb) The Last Ambassador, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1981.

Wrote and produced Viet Cong (documentary film). Contributor to periodicals, including New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Smithsonian, and Newsweek.

SIDELIGHTS: Bernard Kalb began his journalism career as a New York Times reporter covering the events that eventually led the United States into the Vietnam War. Kalb was a foreign correspondent based in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Paris, and Saigon until 1985, when he returned stateside to take a position with the Reagan administration as assistant secretary of state for public affairs under George Shultz. He remained only until the following year, when he quit over what he saw as a "disinformation campaign" undertaken by the administration to mislead Libya's Muammar Gaddafi as to the intentions of the United States toward his country. Kalb claimed that the government created untrue stories to the effect that Gaddafi was planning terrorist activities that justified retaliation. Kalb, who had spent years as correspondent for major networks, said that "you face a choice, as an American, as a spokesman, as a journalist, whether to allow oneself to be absorbed in the ranks of silence, whether to vanish into unopposed acquiescence or to enter a modest dissent. Faith in the word of America is the pulse beat of our democracy."

Kalb's world view is based on his first-hand observations of history gained while working as a journalist beginning in the 1950s. He covered President Richard Nixon's trip to China in 1972 and was part of the U.S. delegation that accompanied President Reagan to Geneva, Switzerland, in 1985, for a summit with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. After leaving his government post, Kalb served on the panel of Reliable Sources, a program that studied the media and its accuracy and service to readers, listeners, and viewers. He also moderated Freedom Forum panels worldwide, and has participated in meetings and documentaries on issues that include global conflicts, human rights, and the environment as well as the state of the media. He was a correspondent for a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) documentary on India and traveled to Brazil for a television documentary on the Earth Summit. Other destinations included Budapest, Hungary, for the International Media Fund seminar on government-press relations and Istanbul, Turkey, for a meeting of the World Business Council.

With his brother, Marvin L. Kalb, Kalb authored Kissinger, a study of President Nixon's secretary of state. The Last Ambassador is a novel set against the background of the fall of Saigon in 1975. Kalb produced the award-winning documentary Viet Cong, which is based on his years covering the Vietnam conflict. He continues to lecture and comment on the state of the media, including its coverage of the Iraqi conflict. Florida Times Union reporter Jessie-Lynne Kerr, covering a 2003 address in Jacksonville, Florida, recorded Kalb noting that when the bombs began falling on Baghdad, he was visiting Hanoi in Vietnam: "I was caught up in the echoes of a war that still haunts America. There was a spooky feeling to it. I wondered if the B-52s that were bombing Baghdad were the same ones that bombed Hanoi a generation and a half ago."



Florida Times Union, April 3, 2003, Jessie-Lynne Kerr, "Media Critic Kalb Says War Coverage Scooped," p. B4.

New Republic, December 30, 1981, Morton Kondracke, review of The Last Ambassador, p. 40.

New York Times, August 28, 1981, Edwin McDowell, review of The Last Ambassador, p. 21; September 25, 1981, Richard F. Shepard, review of The Last Ambassador, p. C23.

New York Times Book Review, January 1, 1984, Alan Cheuse, review of The Last Ambassador, pp. 14-15.

Publishers Weekly, July 24, 1981, Barbara A. Bannon, review of The Last Ambassador, p. 142.

Time, October 20, 1986, John S. DeMott, "Bernard Kalb's 'Modest Dissent': The State Department Spokesman Quits over Disinformation," p. 40.

Washington Monthly, September, 1981, Michael Hiestand, review of The Last Ambassador, pp. 58-59.


Hamilton University Web site, http://www.hamilton.edu/ (July 2, 2005).

Harry Walker Agency Web site, http://www.harrywalker.com/ (July 2, 2005).

National Debate Online, http://www.thenationaldebate.com/ (July 2, 2005).