Mostly Credited As: Howard K. Smith
Birth Name: Howard Kingsbury Smith
Date Of Birth: May 12, 1914 (Age 87)
Country Of Birth: USA
Birth Place: Ferriday, Louisiana
Date Of Death: February 15, 2002
Cause Of Death: Pneumonia Aggravated By Congestive Heart Failure
Born in Ferriday, Louisiana, Smith graduated as a Rhodes Scholar from Oxford University (Merton College) in September 1939. He immediately went to work for United Press as their London reporter and in January 1940 was sent to Berlin where he soon went to work for CBS. He visited Hitler's mountain retreat at Berchtesgaden and interviewed many of the most prominent Nazis, including Hitler himself, SS leader Heinrich Himmler and propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.
In December 1941 Smith was one of the last American reporters to leave Berlin before Germany and the United States went to war. Smith's 1942 book, Last Train from Berlin: An Eye-Witness Account of Germany at War describes the reporter's observations from Berlin in the year after the departure of Berlin Diary author William L. Shirer. Last Train from Berlin became an American best-seller and was reprinted in 2001, shortly before Smith's death. Unable to leave Switzerland, Smith reported what he could when the Swiss government would let him. After the liberation of France in 1944, Smith reported on the war effort on the frontlines of Europe for CBS News. He was by then a significant member of the "Murrow Boys" (after Edward R. Murrow) that made CBS News the dominant broadcast news organization of the era. In May 1945 he returned to Berlin to recount the German surrender.
After the war Smith continued to work for CBS, presenting various documentaries and chairing the first televised presidential debate between Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon. In 1962 he left his job at CBS over a dispute about the reporting of the civil rights movement. Smith moved to ABC at a time when that network's news division was a distant third among the "Big Three" networks. In 1969 the veteran reporter was teamed up with Harry Reasoner who anchored from New York while he anchored from Washington. During the 1972 Presidential campaign a letter was published using ABC stationery that he had written to candidate Edmund Muskie indicating his full support for his campaign. This was during a contentious period when the Nixon Administration claimed that the press was biased in its news coverage. Smith remained as co-anchor at ABC until 1979 and is credited as being a key part of ABC's emergence as an equal among the "Big Three" networks in news coverage.