Former CNN chief anchor Bernard Shaw dies at 82

Former CNN anchor Bernard Shaw died Wednesday at the age of 82.

Shaw died of phenomena unrelated to the coronavirus, his family said in a statement to CNN.

Shaw was CNN’s first anchor when the network launched in June 1980 and served in that role until his retirement in February 2001.

“Beloved CNN anchor and colleague Bernard Shaw passed away yesterday at the age of 82. Bernie was a CNN original and was our Washington anchor when we launched on June 1, 1980,” said the CNN CEO and President Chris Licht in a statement.

Litch added:

He was our main anchor for the next twenty years, from covering the presidential elections to his iconic coverage of the first Gulf War live from Baghdad in 1991. Even after leaving CNN, Bernie remained a close member of our family. CNN providing our viewers with context on historic events as recently as last year. The condolences of all of us at CNN go to his wife Linda and his children.

In addition to his coverage of the Gulf War, Shaw has also covered the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, the deaths of the Diana Princes in 1997, and hosted presidential and vice-presidential debates.

Shaw was well known for asking tough questions of politicians he interviewed or moderated in debates.

One of Shaw’s most notable moments came while moderating the second debate of the 1988 presidential election.

In the first question of the debate, he asked Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis a very charged question regarding the death penalty while naming his wife.

“Governor, if Kitty Dukakis was raped and murdered, would you support an irrevocable death sentence for the killer?” Shaw asked.

Wasting no time, Dukakis replied, “No, I don’t know, Bernard. And I think you know I’ve been against the death penalty all my life.

Many believe that Dukakis’ tone-deaf response to Shaw’s question was the key moment that won George HW Bush the presidency in 1988.

Shaw prided himself on asking tough questions, Policy Noted.

“As journalists, we weren’t doing our job if we weren’t asking the hardest question possible,” he said.

Shaw added:

I couldn’t not do this. I’m from the Chicago School of Journalism. I believe in asking tough questions. This whole process is too easy for politicians. They are traveling the country asking for votes and they should be forced to stand up and say what they really feel. Otherwise, voters are rejected.

According to a CNN news page on Shaw, he was born in Chicago in 1940 and grew up in the south side of the city. He served in the United States Marine Corps from 1959 to 1963 before graduating from the University of Chicago in 1969.

Before becoming CNN’s first chief anchor, Shaw worked as a political reporter for CBS and later as a Latin America correspondent for ABC.

Shaw leaves behind his wife, Linda, and two children.

You can follow Ethan Letkeman on Twitter at @EthanLetkeman.


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