Yesterday, we lost the final astronaut of the Apollo 11. Often called, “The Forgotten Astronaut,” Michael Collins passed away at the age of 90.
Collins never touched down on the Moon as he flew the Apollo 11 command module Columbia in 1969 while his crewmates, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, made the first crewed landing on the surface.
On April,15 2019 Collins came to the National Press Club in advance of the 50th Anniversary of that historic lunar mission to speak about his experience in 1969 and to talk about the importance of the press in our democratic society.
For those in the Press Club Ballroom it was an unforgettable experience. For Collins it was a rare, long form interview with one of the legends of broadcasting – Marvin Kalb.
Through conversations with leaders who shape media, public policy and culture in America, The Kalb Report public broadcasting series explores the vital role of the press in our democracy and the transformation of journalism in the 21st century.
During the interview, Collins spoke about the recent disrespect for the press coming from some in government including the then-President and focused on the label “Enemy of the People” that the former President had used in relation to the Press. “Enemy, my ass,” Collins said. “The press is not our enemy. It is our salvation, and I thank you for it.” Watch the interview in its entirety below:
“Michel Collins and his family could not have been more gracious or giving in their participation in our program, said Michael Freedman, 2020 National Press Club president and executive producer of The Kalb Report series. “His candor, insights, humor, and reflections made for a memorable and deeply meaningful program.
Freedman adds, “His family made it known to us that he accepted our invitation for three reasons: Marvin Kalb, his respect for CBS News and its space coverage (both Kalb and Freedman are CBS News alumni), and the platform provided by The National Press Club.”
After retiring from NASA in 1970, Collins took a job in the Department of State as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. A year later, he became the director of the National Air and Space Museum, and held this position until 1978, when he stepped down to become undersecretary of the Smithsonian Institution.
In 1980, he took a job as vice president of LTV Aerospace. He resigned in 1985 to start his own consulting firm. Along with his Apollo 11 crewmates, Collins was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2011.
Now in its 27th season (and 101 episodes), The Kalb Report is jointly produced by the National Press Club and the National Press Club Journalism Institute, University of Maryland Global Campus, Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, The George Washington University and The Gaylord College of Journalism at the University of Oklahoma.