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Murrow and Sorensen Resign from Johnson Administration Posts

Jan. 15, 1964 - Famed T.V. commentator Edward R. Murrow, head of the U.S. Information Agency, and top White House aide Theodore Sorensen have resigned — the first major personnel shifts of the Johnson Administration. Informed sources said that Murrow had reluctantly submitted his resignation last week because of continuing ill health. He has been suffering from lung cancer and, despite an operation, has not recovered sufficiently to carry on. The White House announced today that Sorensen had decided to leave Feb. 29 to write a book about the late President Kennedy. Sorensen said he felt an obligation to tell the Kennedy story despite President Johnson’s plea that he stay on. A longtime Kennedy speechwriter, adviser, and friend, Sorensen said he had made his decision a month ago because he felt he would never get the book written if he didn’t start now. He voiced hope that his action would not encourage other Kennedy aides to leave the Administration. Sorensen, discussing his resignation with newsmen, said he had not kept a diary because he had always expected Kennedy to write his memoirs. But he has the official records and his memory to work from. He plans to write a personal and analytical account of “what kind of President he was and what kind of person he was.”

President Johnson said it was hard to let Sorensen go but that he appreciated the motive. “I know that as the nation has been made stronger by your service,” Mr. Johnson said, “so will the memory of John F. Kennedy be made richer by your book.” Sorenson was famous for his ability to produce a Kennedy speech on short order. In addition to writing major addresses, he also provided the President with data and background material for the unwritten, “off-the-cuff” speeches that were often among Mr. Kennedy’s most graceful statements.


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