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At The Non-Profit Bar

He was old when I met him. Indeed, Dick Schmidt was often the oldest person in the room when he met with journalists and lawyers to discuss assaults on the First Amendment. He reveled in that distinction by ludicrously introducing himself at each such opportunity as "the oldest living American." He was never any such thing, of course, but he was always the strongest and most respected voice in the room defending journalists' right to report the news. He died in October 2004. He was only 80 years old.

Richard M. Schmidt was formerly a Colorado broadcaster, by way of Kansas. As a college student in 1943 he hosted a program called "Heroes of the Navy" on station KOA in Denver. Later, while a law student, he interviewed all manner of show-business personalities on station KMYR. With such beginnings, it's no surprise he became a news-media lawyer. He led the fight that made Colorado the first state to open its trial courts to TV cameras. He was later counsel for the Miami Herald in the landmark First Amendment case Miami Herald Publishing Company v. Tornillo in which he persuaded the Supreme Court that a Florida statute requiring newspapers to provide a "right of reply" to political candidates violated the Constitution's guarantee of freedom of the press.



Bruce D. Collins

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