Stuart Loory, a White House and Moscow correspondent for major newspapers who became one of the first executive hires at CNN, where his experience and connections proved invaluable to a network initially mocked as Chicken Noodle News, died Jan. 16 at his home in Brooklyn. He was 82.
The cause was lung cancer, said his wife, Nina Kudriavtseva-Loory.
In a wide-ranging career, Mr. Loory skipped among high-
profile foreign and domestic assignments, as well as print and TV operations. He covered early manned space flights, civil rights upheaval in Alabama, the political demise of Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev in 1964 and the rise of Mikhail S. Gorbachev in 1985.
Journalist David Halberstam, writing in “The Powers That Be,” his book on the news media, described Mr. Loory as a “supremely able, supremely independent” Washington reporter in the 1960s for the New York Herald Tribune and then the Los Angeles Times.
While at the Times, he covered the White House and shared the prestigious George Polk Award in 1968 for a series of stories examining the collapse of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s secret peace negotiations during the Vietnam War. He also was among those journalists who landed on President Richard M. Nixon’s enemies list and was a frequent irritant to national security adviser Henry Kissinger.
Mr. Loory was known for a puckish sense of humor. As he once recounted, he arrived in Moscow for the Herald Tribune in 1964 and hung in his office a picture of Karl Marx, who had worked for a 19th-century incarnation of the paper under the miserly publisher Horace Greeley.
Marx, who went on to write “Das Kapital,” complained bitterly about Greeley’s pay scale. When a Soviet press functionary saw the Marx picture, he beamed in delight until Mr. Loory quipped that it was unfortunate that Greeley had not given Marx a $5 raise and saved the world from communism.
As managing editor of the Chicago Sun-Times in the late 1970s, Mr. Loory helped oversee a memorable sting operation that exposed municipal corruption.
The Sun-Times bought a seedy bar, deftly named it the Mirage and set up hidden cameras in the establishment, which led to a 25-part series documenting payoffs and other unlawful acts by city officials and contractors.
The paper nominated the series for a Pulitzer Prize, but it was rejected after provoking a debate among Pulitzer jurors about journalism ethics: To what extent were unorthodox undercover practices acceptable in exposés of civic malfeasance? The Sun-Times stories resulted in tighter regulations in building inspections, among other regulatory changes.
“This was not a fun-and-games project,” Mr. Loory told an interviewer at the time. “This was a serious journalistic investigation.”
Mr. Loory joined CNN as head of the Washington bureau in late 1980, a few months after the 24-hour news channel went on the air. To many journalists, the concept of an round-the-clock news network seemed a daunting and dubious undertaking at best. Mr. Loory’s credibility and contacts were crucial to getting CNN off the ground.
“He could get anyone on the phone because he was accepted as a real journalist,” said Reese Schonfeld, a founder of the network and its first president. “He was smart as hell and a very good news guy. He knew what a story was and knew what a story wasn’t.”
Mr. Loory opened CNN’s Moscow bureau in 1983 and four years later was tapped to lead “World Report,” which gave American viewers a sampling of news broadcasts from other countries, including Cuba, Egypt, Turkey and Sri Lanka. The results, media critics noted, were often enlightening but also could be propagandistic, anti-Semitic or just plain puzzling.
Mr. Loory said the program provided CNN with important journalistic contacts around the world and helped place the network at a major advantage when crises broke out.
“There was a direct relation between ‘World Report’ and our ability to stay on in Iraq during the [Persian Gulf] war,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1992, noting that Iraqi TV had been a contributor to “World Report.”
Stuart Hugh Loory was born in Easton, Pa., on May 22, 1932, and grew up in Dover, N.J., where his father owned a furniture store. He graduated in 1954 from Cornell University, where he was editor of the campus newspaper, and in 1958 from Columbia University’s journalism school.
The next year, Mr. Loory joined the Herald Tribune. There, he was part of a promising generation of writers that included Jimmy Breslin, future novelist Tom Wolfe, sports journalist Dick Schaap and William Whitworth, who became editor in chief of the Atlantic Monthly.
Initially a science writer, Mr. Loory leapt to greater prominence when an editor sent him in May 1961 to cover a group of “freedom riders” — an interracial group of civil rights activists traveling by bus through Alabama.
At the Greyhound bus terminal in Montgomery, the riders and journalists came under brutal attack by what he described as a “a wild mob of men and women, uncontrolled by police.” As Mr. Loory told Richard Kluger for Kluger’s history of the Herald Tribune, he initially “fled in momentary panic” before regaining his composure and writing a vivid account that landed on the front page.
Mr. Loory was Moscow correspondent when the paper folded in 1966. He later had short stints as a science writer for the New York Times and a professor of public affairs reporting at Ohio State University, among other jobs. He finished his broadcasting career in 1997 as executive vice president of Turner International Broadcasting in Russia.
He subsequently was a journalism professor at the University of Missouri, where he edited the magazine Global Journalist. His books included “The Secret Search for Peace in Vietnam” (1968) with David Kraslow, a Los Angeles Times colleague.
His marriage to the former Marjorie Dretel ended in divorce. In 1995, he wed Kudriavtseva, a former Bolshoi Ballet dancer and administrator.
Besides his wife, of Brooklyn, survivors include three children from his first marriage, Joshua Loory of Orlando, Adam Loory of Mamaroneck, N.Y., and Miriam Krombach of Los Angeles; a stepson, Leonid Tarasov of Moscow; a brother; and eight grandchildren.
When Mr. Loory arrived at CNN, technical glitches were commonplace. He brought in many newspaper veterans he knew to serve as commentators and maintain an aura of unruffled professionalism.
“He was very good at improvising,” said Laurence Barrett, a reporter at the Herald Tribune and later at Time. “I was doing a live panel show with him during those early days when we realized that the audio had died. ‘Keep talking,’ he said. ‘Maybe they’ll read our lips.’ ”