Bernard Shaw, CNN’s chief anchor for two decades and a trailblazer in Black broadcasting, died at the age of 82.
Shaw is best remembered for calmly reporting the start of the Gulf War in Baghdad in 1991, as missiles flew around him.
According to Tom Johnson, CNN’s former CEO, he died of pneumonia on Wednesday, September 7th, at a hospital in Washington.
Shaw was at CNN for 20 years and was known for remaining cool under pressure. That was a hallmark of his Baghdad coverage when the U.S. led its invasion of Iraq in 1991 to liberate Kuwait, with CNN airing stunning footage of airstrikes and anti-aircraft fire in the capital city.
“In all of the years of preparing to being anchor, one of the things I strove for was to be able to control my emotions in the midst of hell breaking out,” Shaw said in a 2014 interview with NPR. “And I personally feel that I passed my stringent test for that in Baghdad.”
Shaw was a former U.S. Marine who worked as a reporter at CBS and ABC News before taking on the chief anchor role at CNN when the network began in 1980.
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He moderated a presidential debate in 1988 and covered protests in China’s Tiananmen Square in 1989. But his striking on-the scene work in Baghdad, with correspondents Peter Arnett and John Holliman, was instrumental in putting CNN on the map.
CNN’s current chief executive, Chris Licht, paid tribute to Shaw as a CNN original who made appearances on the network as recently as last year to provide commentary.
Shaw left the business at age 61. He told NPR that despite everything he did in journalism, because of all of the things he missed with his family while working, “I don’t think it was worth it.”
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