Merriman Smith and UPI’s Glory Days
November 17, 2016 6:30 PM
Location: Conference Rooms
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In the 1960s UPI and AP fought head to head for every second of every story. No one epitomized that competition more than Merriman Smith, who served as UPI’s White House correspondent from the Franklin Roosevelt administration through Richard Nixon. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of John Kennedy’s assassination. He and the AP correspondent fought over the telephone in the press pool car just four car’s back from the presidential limousine.
Known to all by his nickname Smitty, Merriman Smith also was at Warm Springs, Ga., filing the first dispatches when Roosevelt died. President Lyndon Johnson presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1967.
The Club’s History and Heritage Committee is presenting a program on Merriman Smith and UPI’s Glory Days on Nov. 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the Club’s conference rooms. Tickets are $5.00 for members, $10 for nonmembers and free for students.
A stellar panel of people who knew Smith will include:
- Bill Sanderson, whose new biography of Smith, “Bulletins from Dallas,” will be released in November.
- Al Spivak, a former UPI White House correspondent.
- Gwen Gibson, who worked closely with Smith in the Eisenhower White House who went on to the New York Herald Tribune and the New York Daily News.
- Sid Davis, who as a correspondent with Westinghouse Broadcasting Co., was in the motorcade when Kennedy was shot and was aboard Air Force One with Smith when Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president. He went on to Washington Bureau Chief for NBC News.
- Tom Johnson, a young assistant press secretary in the Johnson White House who got to know Smith well. Johnson went on to be publisher of the Los Angeles Times and the Dallas Morning news, and president of CNN.
The panel will be moderated by Mike Freedman, who had been managing editor of UPI’s Broadcast Division and now is a senior vice president at the University of Maryland University College, teaches journalism at George Washington University and is a member of the Club’s Board of Governors.
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