CNN’s First Chief Anchor Bernard Shaw Dead at 82

Bernard Shaw, who was the lead anchor at CNN for two decades, died Wednesday, September 7, from non-Covid-related pneumonia at age 82, according to his family.

He retired from CNN in 2001. He was one of the very first Black anchors of a network evening news show. Shaw began his television broadcasting career as an anchor and reporter for WNUS in Chicago in 1964. He worked as the White House correspondent in the Washington Bureau of CBS News from 1971 to 1977.

Shaw then moved to ABC News, where he left to join CNN in 1980. His coverage of the assassination attempt of Ronald Reagan in 1971 helped to establish CNN in the station’s early days. Due to Shaw listening to a police scanner, it had beaten the other networks in announcing the shooting of Reagan by four whole minutes.

Bernard Shaw

(Credit: Mark Mainz/Getty Images)

Shaw also moderated the 1988 presidential election debates where he questioned anti-death penalty Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis, asking if he would support an irrevocable death penalty for a man who hypothetically raped and murdered Dukakis’s wife, Kitty Dukakis. Kitty found the question inflammatory and unwarranted at a presidential debate.

Judy Woodruff, who anchored the Inside Politics program on CNN with him told The New York Times he had “a manner and a voice that makes every word believable; the coolest demeanor in the hottest situations; the cut-to-the-quick interviewing style; and, at his core, a powerful combination of journalistic integrity and pure instinct.”

Shaw retired in part due to missing his wife Linda Allston, and their children. He told NPR “The countless weeks away from them, the missing of so many precious moments in a child’s and a wife’s lifetime, experiences. And it began to gnaw at us more, more, more. And I decided it was time to walk off the field when I was approaching my 61st birthday.”

Shaw continued to appear on CNN after his retirement for important moments that he covered as a journalist.


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