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Knowlton Nash, your Washington correspondent

The Story

Ducking gunfire in the Dominican Republic is just another day on the job for CBC-TV foreign correspondent Knowlton Nash. The seasoned reporter first joined CBC-TV in 1961 as Washington correspondent. In this 1966 clip from Front Page Challenge, Nash is the mystery guest who tells the panel about covering the U.S. military reaction to a rebellion in the Dominican Republic in 1965.

Medium: Television
Broadcast Date: April 12, 1966
Program: Front Page Challenge
Host: Fred Davis
Panellists: Pierre Berton, Betty Kennedy, Gordon Sinclair, Lister Sinclair
Guest: Knowlton Nash
Duration: 10:04

Did You know?

• The veteran journalist was born Cyril Knowlton Nash in Toronto on Nov. 18, 1927. Nash was named after his father, but at five told his parents he'd rather be known as Knowlton. They called him Cyril Jr., and as he explained at the time, he was no Jr.  
• A reporter from the start, Nash produced his own newssheet when he was eight. A year later he was writing letters to editor, and at 10 he operated a newsstand in Toronto.

• In a CBC Life and Times, Nash's cousin Gwen Mulholland said people used to ask why, even as a small child, Nash didn't smile. She explained, "It was just Knowlton's nature. It was just his temperament."
• In the same documentary Nash admitted he had always put his work first, and as a result, was married four times. He said it wasn't until he met his last wife, Lorraine Thomson, in 1976, that he began putting his personal life ahead of his career.

• In 1947, Nash took a job with the British United Press, a Toronto wire service. He was night editor and wrote 4,000 articles.
• From 1951 to 1958, his desire to go abroad was realized when Nash accepted a position in Washington as information director with the International Federation of Agricultural Producers.
• While working for the American federation, he moonlighted as a freelance writer and broadcaster. In 1961, he joined CBC's Newsmagazine as their Washington correspondent.

• Among Nash's journalistic feats included tracking down the communist revolutionary Che Guevara for an exclusive, and being one of the last to interview Bobby Kennedy before his assassination.

• Nash crossed over to management in 1969 when he became CBC TV's director of information programs. Fellow journalists, including Morley Safer, were shocked by the move.
• While Nash was in the management role, Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau complained that the CBC was becoming a propaganda vehicle for the FLQ during the October Crisis. Nash reacted with a directive that limited coverage of the crisis. He later said: "Basically it was my fault. We went too far -- farther than we should have."

• When Nash returned to the screen as host after a stint in management, he was not widely accepted. The media accused him of hiring himself; the CBC anchor's union filed a grievance saying Nash wasn't qualified. He was "poked at and ridiculed for the longest time," explained Mark Starowicz, CBC TV executive producer. But when Canadians finally warmed to him, he was "beloved," and they respected him for not being like a "papier-mâché" American anchor, said Starowicz.

• The press also jumped on Nash for his unemotional delivery -- he thought facial expressions might infer editorial opinion -- and for those trademark thick-lensed glasses. CBC management put up with the huge specs but told him they had had it with his pink shirt. To that, Nash put the garment in a parcel with a bow and sent it directly to management.

• Nash wrote several books, one of which, entitled Trivia Pursuit, criticized the media for declining into a state of sensationalism covering celebrities and sex scandals. He explained that democracy would perish without the hard-nosed journalism of his time.
• For his accomplishments in the field, Nash received an honorary law degree from the University of Toronto (1993) and was appointed an Officer to the Order of Canada (1989).

• Quotables from a 2001 episode of CBC-TV program Life and Times on Nash:
• "He may have invented spin." -- Veteran broadcaster Trina McQueen
• "I don't put myself first. I put work first." -- Knowlton Nash
• "It's inconceivable to him to actually contaminate a report with his own view. I think he'd probably blow up if he tried." -- Mark Starowicz, executive producer of Canada: A People's History.

• Knowlton Nash died May 24, 2014, at the age of 86.


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