CNN has announced that Bernie Shaw passed away from pneumonia unrelated to covid on Wednesday.
Shaw “exemplified excellence in his life” and will be “remembered as a fierce advocate of responsible journalism,” said Tom Johnson, former CNN CEO. “As a journalist, he demanded accuracy and fairness in news coverage. He earned the respect of millions of viewers around the world for his integrity and independence. He resisted forcefully any lowering of ethical news standards or any compromise of solid news coverage. He always could be trusted as a reporter and as an anchor.”
I was privileged to have worked with Bernie at ABC News before he jumped to CNN as their first chief anchor in 1980. He retired from CNN in 2001.
I too followed Mr. Shaw to CNN and worked with him editorially on CNN’s political coverage. He was steady, engaged, curious and truly committed to putting all the facts on the table, and had that calm demeanor of authenticity that held the attention of our audiences. He exemplified the best in the business and took his profession serious. He was competitive and wanted to be first, but ever pushed accuracy before first.
He like many in his generation and the generation ahead of him lived by the ethical standard – “We perform our profession to never have to retract a story.”
For those of us who were influenced and trained by those generations, that standard needs to be embraced today.
Bernie was a consummate gentleman and one of the most prepared political anchors I have ever worked with in the business.
It was not unusual for Bernie to waltz into my office or call me late at night and ask me, “Tell me something you know I don’t for the next primary night’s coverage.”
In 1984 when I called races on election night and forced our network competitors to reverse their calls, he sent me flowers the next day with a note – “You are a human computer. So glad you are on our team!”
Bernie read history books and thought through the responsibility of the press not just reporting the facts, but giving context to the public to encourage them to care more.
He loved the concept of Inside Politics in the 1980s as the first daily political show so the public knew the different between a caucus and a primary and who the cast of characters were on the local stages making an impact on the national and international arenas.
Rest In Peace, old friend. You made a difference in the lives of those you touched.