Bernard Kalb, longtime foreign affairs newsman, dies at 100

Jan 8, 2023, 2:19 AM | Updated: Jan 9, 2023, 8:01 am

NORTH BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — Bernard Kalb, a former television reporter for CBS and NBC who quit his job as a State Department spokesman to protest a U.S. government disinformation campaign against Libya, died Sunday. He was 100.

His younger brother, Marvin Kalb, told The Washington Post that his death at his home in the Washington suburbs followed complications from a fall.

Bernard Kalb worked as a foreign correspondent for The New York Times, CBS and NBC, wrote two books with his more famous younger brother, and served as founding anchor and panelist for the CNN media analysis show “Reliable Sources.”

Always smartly dressed in a suit and orange tie often matched by an orange pocket handkerchief, Kalb was a tireless journalist who made virtually every overseas trip with five different secretaries of state before switching to the other side of the podium.

“You have a sense of being something of an eyewitness to the evolutions and eruptions of the decades since World War II,” he told The New York Times in 1984, when he became a spokesman for Secretary of State George Shultz during the Reagan administration.

“You have a historical memory to call upon and you see the trust of American foreign policy and other foreign policy,” he said. “And it seems to me the ability to punch up American priorities, cast of characters, issues and so forth are very valuable in this assignment.”

The disinformation campaign followed U.S. airstrikes that had hit Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s compound earlier in 1986 in retaliation for a Libyan-linked terrorist attack in Germany. It was designed to make Gadhafi think he was about to be attacked again. The Washington Post exposed the campaign, which the newspaper said included leaking false information to reporters and which Kalb knew nothing about.

“I am concerned about the impact of any such program on the credibility of the United States,” Kalb said at the time. “Anything that hurts America’s credibility, hurts America.”

New York Times columnist William Safire praised the resignation. “In his final official act, Bernard Kalb rose above ‘State Department spokesman’ to become the spokesman for all Americans who respect and demand the truth,” Safire wrote.

In 1992 Kalb became the founding anchor of “Reliable Sources,” which reported on reporters and how they handled stories. Co-host Howard Kurtz took over the show after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

In 1997 Kalb began moderating a number of panels and lectures on the press around the world for The Freedom Forum, a Washington-based foundation devoted to press freedom run by former Gannett Co. executives. He also served on a panel that monitored Israeli and Palestinian media for incitement to violence that was created as part of the failed 1998 Wye River land-for-security accord.

Kalb was born Feb. 4, 1922, in New York City, the son of Jewish immigrants. His father was a tailor from Poland, while his mother was from the Ukraine. He attended New York City public schools and graduated from New York’s City College.

During World War II he spent two years in the Army, working for a camp newspaper in the Aleutian Islands alongside editor Sgt. Dashiell Hammett, author of “The Maltese Falcon” and other detective novels.

From 1946 until 1961 he worked at The New York Times, spending four months in Antarctica in late 1955 and 1956 to cover Adm. Richard Byrd’s Navy expedition, Operation Deep Freeze. Later in 1956 Kalb was dispatched to Indonesia, where he developed a lasting love for Asian antiques and porcelain.

CBS hired him away from the Times in 1962 and sent him back to Southeast Asia, where he was well-known. He joined his brother covering the State Department in Washington in 1975, and they moved together to NBC in 1980.

At CBS Marvin and Bernard were known as “The Kalbs,” but Bernard lived somewhat in the shadow of his younger brother.

One widely circulated, but apocryphal, story had their mother calling the CBS foreign desk in New York and saying: “Hello, this is Marvin Kalb’s mother. Can you tell me where my son Bernie is?” But Bernard Kalb never seemed the least bit jealous, sometimes even introducing himself as Marvin’s “kid brother.”

Together they wrote an admiring 1974 biography of Henry Kissinger, “Kissinger,” and “The Last Ambassador,” a 1981 novel about the fall of Saigon.

Survivors include his wife, Phyllis, and their four daughters, Tanah, Marina, Claudia and Sarinah.


Associated Press writer Derek Rose contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


The logo for OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, appears on a mobile phone, in New York, Tuesday, Jan. 31...
Associated Press

Cheaters beware: ChatGPT maker releases AI detection tool

ChatGPT is trying to curb its reputation as a freewheeling cheating machine with a new tool that can help detect if artificial intelligence wrote it
22 hours ago
This undated photo provided by the Grants Pass Police Department shows Benjamin Obadiah Foster. Fos...
Rio Yamat and Andrew Selsky, Associated Press

Oregon kidnap suspect previously released the day he arrived at prison

A man at the center of an intense police search in Oregon after a violent kidnapping last week was released from custody in October 2021 by Nevada prison officials on the same day he was transferred to the state's custody to serve a kidnapping sentence, authorities said Monday.
22 hours ago
FILE - This image provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows Texas death row inmate...
Associated Press

Man who fatally shot Dallas officer in 2007 faces execution

HOUSTON (AP) — A man convicted of fatally shooting a Dallas police officer nearly 16 years ago faces execution on Wednesday. Wesley Ruiz, 43, is set to receive a lethal injection for the March 2007 killing of Dallas Police Senior Corporal Mark Nix. Ruiz had led officers on a high-speed chase after being spotted driving […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Actor Alec Baldwin attends a news conference at United Nations headquarters, on Sept. 21, 20...
Associated Press

Baldwin faces involuntary manslaughter charge in set death

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Prosecutors linked Alec Baldwin to an expansive list of alleged failures in firearms safety as they filed a felony involuntary manslaughter charge Tuesday against the actor in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on a New Mexico movie set. Halyna Hutchins died shortly after being wounded during rehearsals at a […]
22 hours ago
A portrait of Tyre Nichols is displayed at a memorial service for him on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023 in ...
Associated Press

Family of Tyre Nichols prepares to lay him to rest

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The family of Tyre Nichols planned to lay him to rest on Wednesday, three weeks after he was beaten to death by Memphis police after a traffic stop. In those three weeks, five police officers have been fired and charged with murder, and their specialized unit was disbanded. Two more officers […]
22 hours ago
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg answers a question from students at Keio University in Toky...
Associated Press

NATO chief wants more ‘friends’ as Russia, China move closer

TOKYO (AP) — China’s growing assertiveness and collaboration with Russia poses a threat not only to Asia but also to Europe, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday as he sought stronger cooperation and more “friends” for NATO in the Indo-Pacific region. Stoltenberg said China is increasingly investing in nuclear weapons and long-range missiles without providing […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Bernard Kalb, longtime foreign affairs newsman, dies at 100