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Robert J. Korengold: An Appreciation

Robert J. Korengold

by Miller Crouch

When I met Bud Korengold at USIS Paris in the early 1990s, he was one of the most well-known senior Foreign Service officers in the U.S. Information Agency. He was known especially for his singular success directing large press operations at some of our most important European posts. Political appointees trusted him and sought his advice, and he always gave his best in return. They and colleagues found Bud was special because he was a diplomat not out of diplomatic central casting. He was, rather, always a journalist to his fingertips, a man who had been a first rate foreign correspondent for major outlets before he joined the government. In many ways Bud departed from standard practice. In the jobs he held overseas, however, this did not matter. What did matter was that he never had to think twice about how to interact with correspondents from anywhere around the world. Intellectually and emotionally, Bud remained one of them, a working journalist, only now his editor was the Ambassador, and his outlet, the Embassy, but more importantly, USIS.

Bud’s advice to his principals always aimed at capturing the lede. He taught that having a deep understanding of policy and having a fine set of talking points were not the same as knowing the lede. Clear as day to Bud, discerning the news lede was often what really mattered. To miss it was the greatest journalistic crime. This is the simple explanation why Agency leaders and ambassadors so trusted him, why Agency leaders assigned him to the critical posts of Belgrade, Brussels, London, and Paris – the feeding grounds then of the large international press corps that reported on the end- game of the Cold War and its immediate aftermath. It is why USIS in the posts that Bud led became part of the ambassadors’ own offices. He constantly overdid. He had to be ‘out and about.’ He was curious, funny, driven to succeed. He claimed a special relationship with ‘Lady Luck.’ He actually meant his beloved Mrs. Korengold, who with their wonderful children and now grandchildren meant everything to Bud.

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