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Peter Jennings Dies at 67

Aired August 07, 2005 - 23:48   ET


CAROL LIN, ANCHOR: Peter Jennings, 67 years old, had just celebrated a birthday. And for anyone who had worked for Peter Jennings for any amount of time, knew that yes, as Tom Foreman described, he was a demanding and an unpredictable boss.
One of those people who had the pleasure and the experience of working with Peter personally is our very own Aaron Brown. And Aaron joins me on the telephone right now.

Aaron, some of your fondest memories of working with Peter?

AARON BROWN, HOST, "NEWSNIGHT": Oh, my. My fondest memory of working with Peter is working with Peter. We traveled the world together. We went to South Africa together to cover an election. We went to Cuba together to cover the pope. We went to California to cover earthquakes together.

He taught me how to be an anchorman. He's the best anchorman there ever was. You know, it was one of the great -- one of the great professional privileges to work for him and one of the great personal privileges to be a pal from time to time.

And it's just -- obviously, this is very sad. I'm glad for Peter that it's over, and I'm sorry for his family and how it ended.

LIN: Yes. How do you think Peter would look back upon his career?

BROWN: Well, on the one hand, I think Peter would say that he -- he got to do all of the things that he set out to do as a reporter. He covered all of the great stories, from civil rights in America to Vietnam to Watergate to 9/11 and all of the things of the last few years. And I think that Peter would say that there were all sorts of more things to cover that he couldn't even describe.

Peter to me is the single most naturally curious person I've ever known. And so it's all those -- on the one hand, it's everything he did cover, from the Middle East and everything else to all of those things that will happen that I guarantee you, ticked him off that he wasn't going to get a piece on.

LIN: You know, and he was so determined, because Aaron, as you know, even since the announcement that he made back in April that he was going into chemotherapy, he was going to fight the good fight and learn to live with cancer, as so many people have, that he wasn't going to lay back and take time out for his treatment. He was in the trenches by phone or e-mail every single day to the staff of "World News Tonight."

BROWN: Well, you know, I -- you know, some day we'll know how much Peter was able to do and how much was, honestly, ABC correctly and honorably protecting the image of Peter. Peter, from the moment he announced, if you go back and listen to -- and I have a dozen times -- go back and listen to what he said the night that he announced he had the cancer, in that horribly raspy, painful voice, it was pretty clear then that Peter was saying good-bye.

He talks about the relationship of anchorman and viewer and how anyone who takes us for granted, who does what we do, is a fool. And I was in Rome when I heard it, and I thought, "That's Peter saying good-bye."

And so I think from the get-go, he knew that the odds of winning this one were very small. And but he fought courageously, as he lived courageously, honestly. And, you know, I just -- for Kacey, who's terrific and for Christopher and Lizzie, who we also traveled the world with from time to time, and to their whole family, our condolences.

LIN: Our deepest condolences. Aaron, I'm going to ask you to please stick around. We want to share some other moments of the last several months since we've learned that Peter Jennings was diagnosed with lung cancer.

In fact, back on April 5, the country was shocked. Nobody expected to hear this news. The night that Elizabeth Vargas had anchored "World News Tonight." And at the very end, Peter Jennings himself came on the air and expressed personally, eye to eye with the viewers out there, what -- the journey that he was about to embark.


PETER JENNINGS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: As some of you now know, I have learned in the last couple of days that I have lung cancer. Yes, I was a smoker until about 20 years ago, and I was weak in that I smoked over 9/11. But whatever the reason, the news does slow you down a bit.

I've been reminding my colleagues today, who've all been incredibly supportive, that almost 10 million Americans are already living with cancer, and I have a lot to learn from them. And living is the key word. The National Cancer Institute says that we are survivors from the moment of diagnosis.

I wonder if other men and women asked their doctors right away, "OK, Doc. When does the hair go?"

At any rate, that's it for now on "World News Tonight." Have a good evening. I'm Peter Jennings. Thanks and good night.


LIN: The honesty and the sense of humor as he shared some pretty tough news that he learned, that he had lung cancer. It was inoperable. The doctors had recommended that he go directly to chemotherapy. A big journey for a man who had traveled the world.

Jeff Greenfield, our CNN political analyst, is on the telephone with me now.

Jeff, you worked with Peter for a number of years, side by side during election coverage. Give me some of your impressions. How did you hear the news tonight?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I heard it just about 20 minutes ago, and it's the kind of news where you expect it and it is still a blow for a lot of reasons.

I worked for 14 years at ABC News through several conventions and primaries and election nights. And one of my memories is Peter coming to the anchor chair just at the start of the 1984 campaign season, having been in New York for well over a decade, coming to a complicated process which he had not been part of for a long time and having, at the same time he was the lead anchor and the principal anchor of ABC News, presenting this political world to the audience, having to do a lot of catch up.

And the intensity with which he plunged into that, his determination to master this on a very fast track basis, was something to behold. Everybody knows what a commanding presence he is on the air. He's the kind of person that -- exactly the kind of person you want in an anchor, who can say to an audience, "Stay with me. I'm going to take you through this. I'm going to show you what it means. I'm going to present this in the best context I know how."

Having to do that, at least for that first campaign season while he was a student as well as an anchor. And he did it with consummate energy, with consummate grace. And over the years, his -- his taste for American politics, which complimented his unparalleled knowledge of the world scene. Nobody knew the international scene the way Peter did, because he lived it. When he talked about the Middle East, he knew those streets, he knew the personalities. He knew the politics. He knew the passions.

But seeing him now doing that in the domestic scene really told you the kind of journalist that he was. And my memories of those tumultuous conventions; even if they are scripted, they're still tumultuous. Those election nights when stories were breaking by the minute, and his determination to put this in the kind of context was really something that -- that was an enormous, impressive skill.

His -- he developed, I think, a real love for the strange business that American politics is, and I think he was able to communicate that. Not just the big picture, but the personalities involved and the stories of individuals who brought some color and humor and history to it. He was a giant in the field.

I think what we -- what we don't want to lose sight of in the mourning for an individual, a husband, a father, a colleague, is Peter represents the kind of journalism that we ought to be aspiring more to. I was noticing in reading some of the things he said recently that at a -- one of these conferences or gatherings, he made the point, with no little pride, I think, that, for instance, "World News Tonight" had never done a Laci Peterson story. His point was quite simple. He didn't make a big deal. He just said, "We knew that they'd get it elsewhere. They didn't need to get it here."

He was determined to keep the focus of network news at a time when there was a real drift away from -- from hard news, if you'll pardon me, what I consider real news, on the stories that mattered. I think one of the reasons -- this may seem excessive, but I don't think it is -- that the United States and the west finally got involved in the Baltics was that Peter was determined not to let what was going on in Srebrenica and Sarajevo and those places, not -- he was not going to let that fade from public view. He kept the focus of ABC News' cameras on that. And I think that was one of the reasons why things finally changed.

This is somebody who took what he did really seriously. It's one of the reasons why he was as demanding an anchor and managing editor of that newscast as he was. You know, because he didn't think this was a world where we should just take the easy road.

So I think the journalistic community is in mourning for two reasons: that we've lost a colleague and we've lost a friend. We've lost one of the people we can least afford to lose right now. He should have been with us for a much longer time to come. And it's just -- it's a very sad moment for him, for his family, for all of us who care about this enterprise -- Carol.

LIN: I also want to -- want to welcome the West Coast viewers who are joining us now. It is 9 p.m. out on the West Coast. Peter Jennings, dead at the age of 67. We have confirmation now as the announcement was made by ABC News a short time ago.

Jeff Greenfield with me on the telephone right now.

Jeff, as great a career as Peter Jennings experienced, he himself had mixed feelings about the blessing. He even said -- once said that he -- he never sounded nearly as sophisticated as he'd like to be. He even -- he even said that he -- he managed not to read about the greatest philosophers, the minds of time, that he was still learning, a learning process and that it had not been easy. This was an interview that he did with "Esquire" magazine back in 1989.

Why was it that -- what was it that made Peter such a perfectionist?

GREENFIELD: Well, look, there are a couple of things about this. One is that Peter came into the business very young. His father was a very well known Canadian broadcast personality. Peter, I believe, began still in his teens broadcasting in Canada. He did not go to college.

And I think he thought wrongly, I think, that this somehow had left him, you know, without, what you were talking about, without that kind of breadth of knowledge, which is one of the reasons why the curiosity that Aaron Brown just spoke of was such a driving part of his life. He because, I think, he had the sense that he had missed out on a kind of formal education, he never stopped teaching himself. And the audience of ABC was the beneficiary of that curiosity.

One of the things about Peter that's quite remarkable is he was made anchor of ABC News I think at age 26. I think back in 1968. And a few years later asked to be taken off the anchor desk because he felt he needed to do more reporting. He needed to ground himself more.

And I guess if I've got my dates right, I think from 1973, for years thereafter, he was traveling the world, covering stories, learning about the world while also teaching himself what he felt he had learned as a youth that other people learn in college. And it wasn't until he became one of the three anchors of ABC in that unusual troika they had back in the very early '80s. And it wasn't till, I guess, the end of 1983 that he became sole anchor.

But having that feeling that he had missed out on that formal education was part of the reason, I think, why he had that passion to know more and more and more. But I think anybody who watched Peter over the years knew that he was absolutely unparalleled in trying to communicate to the audience the meaning behind a story. That's the cliche in journalism, we want to put this in context. But it's often a cliche. That's often just a phrase. It's a catch phrase because it sounds good. With Peter it was, I think, the driving force of his professional life.

LIN: It certainly was.

Jeff, I want you to stay with us right now during our continuing coverage as we share the moments that have been revealed by ABC News not to long ago, sometime in the last 20 to 30 minutes. They made the formal announcement that Peter Jennings had passed away at the age of 67 from complications from lung cancer. He was he made that formal announcement back in April and had been undergoing chemotherapy treatment until the sad news was revealed by Charles Gibson earlier this evening. This is what he had to say.


ANNOUNCER: This is an ABC News Special Report.

CHARLES GIBSON: Good evening from ABC News headquarters in New York. I'm Charles Gibson.

And it is with a profound sadness and true sorrow that I report to you Peter Jennings has died tonight of lung cancer.

Peter died in his apartment here in New York. With him was his wife Kayce, his children, Elizabeth and Christopher. His sister, Sarah, was also there.

His family just a moment ago released this statement and I want to quote it. "Peter died with his family around him, without pain and in peace. He knew he had lived a good life."

Peter's family's strength, caring and love has sustained and comforted Peter over recent months. And with him as well were the prayers and the love and the great respect of all of us at ABC News who worked with Peter during his 41 years here.


LIN: All right. And right now we want to go to live coverage right now at ABC News. Barbara Walters has joined Charles Gibson with her memories and thoughts about Peter Jennings.

BARBARA WALTERS: Princess Diana's wedding we did together. Ronald Reagan's funeral. Bicentennials. No one could ad lib like Peter. Sometimes he drove me crazy because he knew ever detail and I would find myself saying, but, but, but he really did. He you would think that it was all scripted, he was so poetic, but it wasn't. And as you pointed out with things like 9/11, I mean he just he just could go on with facts and with the greatest and most touching kind of emotion.

He just died much to young and it's this Ted gave the message, finish high school, I want to give the message if any of you have kids who are smoking, for heaven sakes tell them that we lost Peter.

GIBSON: Indeed.

With 30 years, Barbara, I guess that makes you the junior kid on the block.

WALTERS: Oh, isn't that nice. Not according to Ted, though. But, you know, we had such wonderful memories, all of us, with Peter because not just he was our anchor and we were very proud of him and very proud of what he made ABC News so that I mean now I hate to brag, but we were we are the winners in great part because of Peter.

I don't know anyone who could command an audience with the kind of authority that Peter had. It is when he did world news I mean, I know you write your own reports and so did and so does Ted, but Peter had such a gift. I mean he was just a superb writer. And as you said, I mean, it's just impossible to believe that he's not going to be with us. He just died much to young and the times that I was tossed (ph) with him I'd tell you, you're hogging, Peter, you know, it's my turn. Well, I was right but I look now and I think, look what he did for us. Look how brilliant he was on the air. Look at the facts he had. Look how he carried us through. And if he talked more than I did sometimes, I can forgive him for every second.

GIBSON: He was the consummate broadcaster. And so often you'd be sitting next to him as he did a special report or as he was broadcasting hour after hour and he would pull something out of the air and you would think, where in the world . . .


GIBSON: Did he get that? How does he know that? We were all in awe of him.

I'm also joined by my pal, Diane Sawyer, here in New York who joins me.

LIN: All right, some of the memories of the people who have worked with Peter Jennings for the last 30 plus years. Barbara Walters was talking about Peter Jennings' distinctive writing style. He did write all of his own material and all of his stories. He was a perfectionist and at one point during an interview he said that he measured the success of a program by how many shows that he was proud of. And he would say even about the award winning "World News Tonight," that he would feel proud of maybe two, two-and-a-half programs a week. Never close to four.

That is an exacting journalist indeed. A journalist who's career has spanned history and time. His first broadcast was at the mere age of nine years old when he had his own children's program up in Canada.

CNN's Tom Foreman shares more of how Peter Jennings' life evolved.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): Peter Jennings was born in Toronto, died in New York, and lived for the world's news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is "World News Tonight" with Peter Jennings.

PETER JENNINGS: Good evening, everyone. We're going to begin tonight with Saddam Hussein.

FOREMAN: For 32 years, he was ABC's chief anchor.

JENNINGS: I've had I've been in a lot of countries. I've covered a lot of great stories. I've been there for some of the great moments of the last 30 years. I'm really lucky.

FOREMAN: Jennings was born to broadcasting. His father, Charles, was an anchorman in Canada. At nine, Peter hosted a kids show. In his teens, he took a radio job. And at 26, without ever completing high school, he joined ABC News.

JENNINGS: This was my first story outside Saigon and I found out in a hurry. This is Peter Jennings, ABC News.

FOREMAN: An early stint as anchor pitted him against the legendary Walter Cronkite on CBS and the Huntley-Brinkley team on NBC. Jennings was too young, too inexperienced, too Canadian. He lost the position.

JENNINGS: And most Egyptians' thoughts are not on war, they're on inflation.

FOREMAN: So he began building his reporter's resume. The Middle East. On the civil rights trail in the south. JENNINGS: It started with a single man and it ended with a crowd.

FOREMAN: In the farm fields of Cuba.

JENNINGS: Never in the history of the revolution has sugar cane been as important as this year.

FOREMAN: At the Olympic village in Munich.

JENNINGS: Two negotiators who went in just a few minutes ago have now come back out and are standing in a group.

FOREMAN: And when he rose to become ABC's chief anchor again, after Tom Brokaw turned the job down, he was ready.

JENNINGS: Ginsberg is charged with anti-soviet behavior. Sharansky is charged, much more seriously, with treason.

FOREMAN: A demanding, often unpredictable boss, he was equally capable of relentlessly driving his staff or showing great compassion.

JENNINGS: How are you feeling these days?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I feel much better than I did.

FOREMAN: He always delighted in reporting. Whether describing a makeshift lamp in Sarajevo.

JENNINGS: They fill it up almost to the very top with water and then put a thin film of oil on the top.

FOREMAN: Or matching wits with world leaders.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I will go to my grave being at peace about it. And I don't really care what they think.

JENNINGS: Oh, yes you do, sir.

CLINTON: They have no idea.

JENNINGS: Oh, excuse me, Mr. President, you care I can feel it across the room.

CLINTON: No, no, I care . . .

JENNINGS: You feel it very deeply.

CLINTON: (INAUDIBLE) I care. You don't want to go here, Peter. You don't want to go here.

FOREMAN: But Peter Jennings was at his best when news was breaking.

JENNINGS: Because this was an attack on these on the United States. No question about it. Everybody said it all day, a declaration of war, an act of war against the United States.

FOREMAN: He loved hockey, history, culture, politics.

JENNINGS: I think when you come home and participate in the democratic process, even vicariously as journalists do, I think it's extraordinarily moving.

FOREMAN: And he loved trying to understand what drives Americans to work, to play, to dream, to pray.

JENNINGS: I've been in the United States of America ever since I came to America 36-odd years ago. All journalists are.

FOREMAN: He wrote books, married four times, had children and became an American citizen himself, finally, two years ago. Peter Jennings, at 66, promised to keep working throughout his illness, and he did, right up to the end of his own story

JENNINGS: Good evening. I'm Peter Jennings. Thanks and good night.


LIN: The ABC News family is remembering Peter Jennings tonight. Just a short time ago, Ted Koppel spoke with Charles Gibson about working with Peter Jennings and his loss.


TED KOPPEL, ANCHOR, "NIGHTLINE": You've seen, and our audience has seen and looking, even as we look now, at some of those early pictures of Peter Jennings, he was a stunningly handsome man. Bore a not slight resemblance to Roger Moore during the time that he was playing 007. And oh, what a heartbreaker he was.

I'll remember on one occasion, on that first two-year tour of anchoring, he went around the country on a promotional tour. And some young woman from our affiliate -- I think it was in Denver, had said, "Peter, will you marry me?"

And jokingly, he said, "Yes." And when he got to Denver, there she was at the foot of the ramp, dressed in a bridal gown.


LIN: There must be thousands of stories about Peter Jennings traveling the country, traveling the world. Jeff Greenfield, who worked with Peter Jennings for more than a dozen years, is joining me right now on the telephone.

Jeff, how do you think Peter viewed his -- his sex appeal? I mean, the fact that he was a dashing, handsome young correspondent. And that was one of the main reasons why ABC News first put him in the anchor chair.

GREENFIELD: Well, I can't exactly speak to that directly. But I do think that what was important to him was to have the credentials to do it. In other words, knowing that he'd been picked because of youth and looks wasn't enough. And when he came back to that anchor chair, he came back as a seasoned, world traveled, well informed journalist.

It's not an accident that, generally speaking, people who are in front of the camera, the people who carry the freight, the anchors, tend to be picked in part because of the personality they project. And in Peter's case, the way Ted Koppel just put it, was quite accurate. This was a dazzlingly good looking person.

But the idea that Peter would rest on that credential, to anybody who knew him, to anybody who watched him over the years, you know, was an absurdity. Quite the contrary, I think it frustrated that the business in general had become a business where the sizzle had become much more important than the steak.

And that telling the story, knowing what you are talking about, trying to say to the audience the world was not created the day before yesterday. There is a history behind -- excuse me -- the conflicts in the Middle East. There is a history to how American politics has evolved. If you want to understand the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union you can't begin with today's news.

This to me was the defining characteristic of Jennings as a news person. And it is -- it is why, apart from the personal sense of loss, people who worked with him, I think it is why this loss is going to be felt across the journalistic community.

I said it a moment ago, but I think it bears repeating. This journalism business of ours is going through a profound change. It's been well observed that over -- in the last year, the principal anchors of all three broadcast have changed under very different circumstances, this being by far the most tragic.

And it also symbolized the time when the kind of journalism that Peter insisted on doing is something of an endangered species. When Peter came to the anchor chair, there was no question that the broadcast news was going to cover the world, resources were going to be available.

This is a very different world now. All of the networks, all of the companies that do news are under incredible financial pressure. The rise of celebrity journalism, that is journalism about celebrities, I think was profoundly disquieting. I worked with him in the initial phase of the O.J. Simpson story, and once that initial phase was over, he fought very hard at ABC News to try to limit that story, because he understood that, while it was a compelling story in a lot of ways and people were fascinated by it, it was crowding out much more significant news.

As the anchor and I think his title was managing editor. It was the equivalent. He had a lot to say, a tremendous amount to say what went into that broadcast. And because he was doing a highly successful news cast, he was able to say to the powers that be, "This is the kind of newscast we're going to do here." And if it was just a matter of putting a good looking anchor in front of a camera, that -- I don't think he would have stayed at that job.

LIN: Yes. Jeff, people would be surprised to know that Peter Jennings often would decide who was to be allowed to report and appear on the broadcast and who wasn't ready, that he would often call junior correspondents personally and go through their script word for word and that nothing would make air unless Peter Jennings gave it a grade, gave it a pass.


LIN: And even in mid-edit, Jeff, he would often call a go and stop a report in its tracks and ask questions.

GREENFIELD: Anybody who worked on "World News Tonight" had the experience, a not always welcome experience, late in the day...

LIN: Yes?

GREENFIELD: ... being asked by Peter, "I'm not entirely satisfied with this. Here's what I think you're missing."

And you have lie (ph) on the clock and mutter various imprecations and "What's going to satisfy this guy?" The answer there is what was going to satisfy this guy was a news -- a news report that he felt communicated to the audience what needed to be communicated.

LIN: Right. Right. He saw -- he didn't see his role so much as anchor as he did really as managing editor, driving the ship. He once called anchors, Jeff, slaves to a daily broadcast. I mean, do you think if Peter Jennings had his druthers, he would have stayed out in the field?

GREENFIELD: I think what he did was to accommodate by going in the field himself. Peter took the broadcast on the road a great deal. He -- both around the country and around the world. He would go to a city and stay there for a day or two and try to find the most fascinating story about that region and why that was important.

But I also think he knew that he was in -- he actually said this once, and I'm sorry, Carol. He said this once at a panel we did together, that it is a Faustian bargain. You know, if you're the anchor of a major news cast, you get paid an enormous amount of money. You have an enormous amount of celebrity. You experience the fully panoply of wealth and fame. You go everywhere. No doors are closed to you. But you can't go into a supermarket and get into a squabble with your kid and not have it on the gossip page of the local tabloids.

That also was something that he was aware of. I don't think that he ever seriously considered stepping down from the anchor chair. It had a tremendous amount of rewards, and apart from material rewards, it had the reward, as you point out, of making him, as the managing editor, perhaps the principle arbiter of what went on that air. The idea that a guy who shows up a half hour before broadcast, reads over the copy once and then stares into the teleprompter and reads what somebody else wrote about stories with which he had nothing to do, that is the absolutely antithesis. That is the kind of anchor Peter probably had no respect for and certainly wasn't about to become.

LIN: You bet. He would roll up the sleeves at 4 p.m. every afternoon, start talking to the bureaus, working with the editors at the table, going through the scripts, not on the computer but by hand with a pen.

GREENFIELD: He -- he had a great respect for the English language. And that's what drove a lot of correspondents crazy, because they'd say look, it's -- you know, "I've been reporting this story. I've tried my best," and he would push. There's no question about it. Demanding is exactly the write word.

LIN: You bet. Demanding, unpredictable, a perfectionist, but a man who could look you in the eye and listen to you for hours on end, talking about your experience out in the field and what you liked about your story and where the story was going to go next. Just an unending curiosity.

GREENFIELD: And I -- I do remember one very vivid moment. It was during one of the presidential debates, in 1998, I'm pretty sure, down in North Carolina. Peter was one of the panelists. And he asked a few of us to join him, and we spent hours going over what kind of questions would make sense, what would most reveal these candidates to the voters, trying to figure out a respectable but tough line of questioning that would push these candidates out of their shells, move them away from the pre-scripted lines that their advisers had designed for them.

I -- I cannot imagine approaching that job with more determination to get it right than Peter brought to it.

LIN: Jeff Greenfield, thank you very much. Please stay with us for as long as you can as we remember Peter Jennings, who died of lung cancer at the age of 67 tonight.

In fact Peter's life underwent an evolution. I mean, he married four times. He had two children. And a proud Canadian. Very recently became a naturalized citizen here of the United States. In fact, Peter Jennings talked about that with CNN's Larry King back in 2004. As we go to break, this is what he had to say.


LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": What was it like to become an American?

JENNINGS: Well, it was a deeply moving experience. It took me a long time to -- to do it. People ask me if I feel any different, and the answer is no, which I think reflects on how American I felt before in so many ways. Rob -- Robert McNeil or Robin McNeil, late of public television, who's now a full-time writer, went through the same experience. And he said something which I think is really interesting. He was asked what changes had occurred in his way of behaving and thinking. He said one thing which I hadn't thought about. He said, you know, you absolutely stop forever thinking that you're a guest in the country.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

LIN: Good morning to you now on the East Coast. And if you're on the West Coast just joining us, it is now about 23 minutes past 9 p.m. out there, and we've had breaking news tonight. Peter Jennings, the anchor of "World News Tonight," died tonight with complications from lung cancer. The announcement made within the last hour from ABC News headquarters. Anchor Charles Gibson giving the news to the American public.


CHARLES GIBSON, ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: Good evening. From ABC News headquarters in New York, I'm Charles Gibson. And it is with a profound sadness and true sorrow that I report to you Peter Jennings has died tonight of lung cancer.

Peter died in his apartment here in New York. With him was his wife Kacey, his children, Elizabeth and Christopher. His sister Sarah was also there. His family just a moment ago released a statement, and I want to quote it: "Peter died with his family around him, without pain and in peace. He knew he had lived a good life," end quote.

Peter's family's strength, caring and love has sustained and comforted Peter over recent months. And with him, as well, were the prayers and the love and the great respect of all of us at ABC News who worked with Peter during his 41 years here.

But it was not just those of us who worked with him who felt such a personal bond with Peter. Since he courageously told everyone of his cancer in early April, there has been an outpouring of e-mails, gifts, letters, expressions of support and just plain good wishes from viewers that overwhelmed everyone here. But most importantly, overwhelmed Peter and gave him great strength.

It was simply a virulent and terrible form of lung cancer that Peter faced. He was a man of iron will. He was, as anyone who competed with him on a story will tell you, fiercely competitive. And he had an enormously strong constitution, al qualities that served him well. He put up a tremendous battle with this disease.

During his illness, the good news was he would often call in with suggestions, comments and criticisms about a "World News Tonight" broadcast. His involvement in "World News Tonight," the program that he loved so deeply, was considerable right up until the last days of his life.

Peter did it all. He reported from every corner of the globe. No one in this business understood events overseas better than Peter. There is probably not a world leader of any consequence in the past 35 years that he did not interview. Whenever there was a major event in the world on which to report, Peter reported it.

It is virtually impossible to properly summarize the career of a man who did so much over so many years. However inadequate to the task, we have tried.


LIN: Peter Jennings, dead at the age of 67. A young man, in many ways.

Tom Foreman had the pleasure and the experience of working with Peter at ABC News. Tom joins me on the telephone right now.

Tom, it doesn't surprise you to know that Peter Jennings was deeply involved with "World News Tonight" virtually until the end of his life.

FOREMAN: Not at all. Although old friends back at ABC have been telling me that, even throughout his illness. And in fact, I used to joke, when I worked at ABC. I was there from 1990 to 2000, 10 years, on "World News" the whole time. And I used to say, "The only thing worse than Peter not being interested in your career was having him interested in your career." Because Peter took such an intense in every single thing that went on the broadcast.

LIN: Yes.

FOREMAN: And he would, as you know from your own experience, he went over every word all the time, was relentless about seeking out something good. And you know, if you're sitting at home right now and you're watching your -- and you're saying, you know, "He'd been around for a long time. But still, why does it matter?"

Here's why it matters. In some ways, not only was Peter part of the genesis of television news, really from its inception when it became a modern form of communication. Not the earlier days, but close to it. Not only was he part of that, but he was somewhat ahead of his time because Peter really believes in the world part of "World News Tonight."

And now, when we're at a point where America, more than ever before, is having to understand and talk about the world and see what's going on in the world, this is an enormous loss to have somebody who we need in our industry, who does understand the world, stepping up and talking about it and fighting for people to understand the world.

So if you're sitting wherever you are in this country, that's why this really matters tonight. It's not just the loss of a star anchorman. It's the loss of somebody who really mattered to this business.

LIN: What was it like for you to work with him?

FOREMAN: Well, I remember when I went to ABC. I was 30 years old. I was, at the time, the youngest correspondent at ABC, which they let me know about to no end. At the time they didn't hire people that age, basically. Certainly not then.

And they sort of gave me a bit of a lecture: "You need to understand, we don't consider people your age normally." And so the first time I encountered Peter, it was very daunting. Because this is a giant who, even there, was viewed as a giant. His colleagues who worked with him all the time still recognized this is a huge, huge figure in this business.

And Peter asked me into his office and said that -- said, "Come in here. Let's sit down and talk about things." And he started talking about what he wanted me to do.

And this is the interesting thing. Many, many, many people who work at big news networks work in New York or Washington or the big centers of news. My entire time at ABC I was out in the field. I lived in Denver, Colorado, but went to all 50 states over and over again and around the world to some degree. And I always felt like, with Peter, that mattered to him in a significant way. Because he always felt like all those corners of the earth, all those corners of the country are where we needed news, from.

And that's what he told me from the beginning. He said, "What we need is more people out there, day to day, spending time in these places and telling us these stories.

LIN: Tom, thank you very much for sharing your memories of Peter Jennings. We've been sharing with our audience tonight as much as we can from the people who knew him, loved him, worked with him.

On the telephone with me now is George Stephanopoulos. George, what are some of the favorite memories that you have of working with Peter Jennings.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I just wanted to pick up on something that I heard Tom saying a few minutes ago. He talked about Peter caring about the world and being so focused on brining the world to us.

I mean, every time I went on a foreign assignment, whether it was to Pakistan or Jordan or Israel, anywhere in the world, before I would go on that trip, Peter would call me and say, "Here are five people you need to talk to." He knew the whole world. He had contacts everywhere, he had reported from everywhere. He had been there and he had kept those notebooks.

And he had really -- you have to understand this, too. He was a reporter first and foremost. And that was just in his blood, that curiosity, that obsession, with making and keeping contacts and he taught us all an awful lot about it. LIN: Yes. Did you find his intensity intimidating ever at times?

STEPHANOPOULOS: No question about it. I came to reporting relatively late in my life. Not like Tom. I came after I had worked at another career, basically. And Peter wasn't sure what to make of me at first, I think, it's fair to say. And he would grill me both off the air and on the air.

And he also had this little habit for all of us new correspondents. Just before you're going to go on the air, you know, it's 6:29, just before you're going to go on the air, he would look at you, you'd be on a remote, you'd be all nervous, you'd be trying to memorize your ad libs, and he would look and say, "What's that tie you're wearing? Where'd you get that?" Anything to throw you off balance just before you went on.

LIN: I know. He would quiz the correspondents, even, just during the script approval process, asking questions that weren't even related to the story on the desk. But he just wanted to find out, how hard did you work at this story? How much research? How well do you really know the subject matter?

STEPHANOPOULOS: And all of that research and work that he did came through at the moments that counted. You know, you think of them. You think of 9/11, all of us who were working that day were kind of awed by Peter. Not only that day but that week.

I mean, he went something like 70 straight hours and wove together a seamless story in a chaotic world, for all of us and for the world watching him. He could draw on that at the moments when it was most necessary for the world to know what was going on. He could draw on that wealth of experience and knowledge.

LIN: Yes. A calm a command that he brought to that desk.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So much command. And, you know, in part because he knew not to take all the television stuff all that seriously. Like, when things would go wrong on the set -- I remember on election night 2000, before all the craziness had happened, we actually had a fire on the set. And he just very calmly announced to the audience, you know, "We've got a fire right. So we're going to take a little break and we'll be right back."

And he would bring people in on the process. If a director was trying to go three different directions, he would stop and say, "You know, I'm getting a few directions in my ear right now. We're going to try to sort it out here and bring you all the news."

LIN: No pretense for a man who had such a Bond-like quality. I mean, he had such elan and style and such deep intelligence. And yet, he felt like he could just be honest with the audience.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He could be honest, and those moments were the most effective, I think, for Peter. The moments, also, when he would, you know, show the audience, show the viewer himself. Whether it was on 9/11 or whether it was the countless times during the war in Iraq and previous wars, where he had to tell the country of, you know, great tragedies, great sadness.

And I would watch him tell viewers, you know, "And what you can do right now is call your kids and just see how they're doing, see how they're feeling." He did this on 9/11, a very human -- such a human moment. And sure enough, the minute we go off the air, that's the first thing he did.

LIN: You bet. You bet. George Stephanopoulos, thank you very much.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Thank you, take care.

LIN: George Stephanopoulos was talking about Peter Jennings' deep love for the professions, but he didn't look at it as a business. He looked at it as an opportunity to learn, to understand, and to communicate. And he talked about the craft of journalism with our very own Larry King, back in 2003.


LARRY KING, HOST: Is it impossible to be totally objective?

PETER JENNINGS, ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: Yes. I have to be honest, I don't think it's the goal, really. I mean, we have, in American journalism, this deep strain of objectivity. I just came back from Britain, as I was saying to you, and the sort of objectivity of the front page of an American newspaper just doesn't exist in the British Isles.

But I grew up, and my dad, as you know, was a part of the pioneers of public broadcasting in Canada. And he always told me, the most important thing you can be in your career is fair. So we all start off to see a box, and hope that we see the box in the same way. But you recognize, in time, that people see the box, or they see traffic accidents, in entirely different ways.

And so you train yourself, over the years, to give accounting to the variety of opinions, and come to some decent place in the middle. But I'm not a slave to objectivity, because I'm never quite sure what it means. It means different things to different people.

KING: Total objectivity would be blah. Wouldn't it?

JENNINGS: Not necessarily blah, but damn hard.

KING: I mean, the journalist sits on the side of the hill and watches the war and tells me what happens, right?

JENNINGS: Well, not as true anymore. There's more much advocacy journalism in the mainstream, I think, in the country today, than there was in my 20s.

KING: Do you like that? JENNINGS: I don't dislike it. I feel a little sorry for the consumer, for the news consumer. The important thing I think we need to tell folks all the time is what they're getting. I have a hard time -- I love the Internet. I love it, I just love it. But I sometimes think I may be talking to a goat, you know? And that's hard.

And I think as long as you keep telling consumers that there're many strains of journalism in the country, on the left, on the right, on the top, on the bottom, people who don't take "wherefore," "whys," as seriously as some of us were trained to do. That's fine. As long as people know what they're getting, we're very lucky. We live in a place where the freedom of choice is essential to the way of life.


LIN: A man who loved what he did. Peter Jennings, dead at the age of 67, from complications from lung cancer. We're going to continue our special coverage, here, with more memories of Peter Jennings from the people who worked with him and the people who lived with him on a day-to-day basis. We'll be right back.


LIN: For those of you just joining us here at CNN, as we make this announcement that Peter Jennings died tonight at the age of 67. That announcement made formally about an hour ago by his ABC colleagues. Peter Jennings, who spent 41 years at ABC News, both anchoring and corresponding.

Covering the world, covering all 50 states. Covering all 20 Arab countries, as well as Israel. Starting and building the bureau in Beirut, and really sinking his teeth into the stories and really being hands-on in the broadcast that he loved so much.

Peter Jennings, working, even as he was getting his chemotherapy and being treated for his lung cancer, constantly emailing and calling the folks at "World News Tonight." His voice still being heard in that broadcast in terms of his influence and his perspective.

Someone who knows that very well and who worked with Peter Jennings at "World News Tonight" is our very own national security correspondent, David Ensor. David joins me on the telephone, right now.

David, how do you describe a man like Peter Jennings and what it was like to work with him for nearly twenty years?

DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Peter was one of those in the generation that followed Murrow and admired what he did and believed that you needed the most exciting thing to do was to go outside the United States and explain the world to Americans. And I guess my fondest memories are working with him on that. He was an anchor based in London for quite a while and a real advocate for those of us who were out in the hot spots. I remember covering Poland and covering the solidarity trade union there and he would help me get stories on the air, he would be an advocate for the things we were doing and he just loved what he did. And I think he was quite possibly the best ad libber when there was breaking news that I've ever seen. Just an extraordinary, clam, cool, clear mind. And as others have just been saying, he just had tremendous journalistic skills.

He had the best Rolodex, as we used to call them, in the world. He worked the story. He was a real reporter's reporter, while also being one of the finest anchors anybody's ever seen or worked with.

LIN: What do you think motivated him?

ENSOR: Just fascination with the world around us and the joy in trying to explain it better. Making it clear to people. He could be hard to work with. I have one little thing that, you know, you heard George a moment ago talking about how he used to just before going on the air he used to ask us something to knock us off. He was never willing to agree on a question and an answer beforehand.

The other thing that used to happen sometimes is you'd send in a script and you'd get back word or Peter would call and say, that's a great lead, kid. I'd say, thank you. And he'd say, and I do the leads, David.

LIN: So don't talk, David.

ENSOR: So I'll take that line.

LIN: You could be a little to good in your writing.


LIN: Yes. Often times you're right, you'd craft your the lead of your story, the first paragraph of your story, you'd spend hours on it, right?

ENSOR: Right.

LIN: Because it's the most important part of your piece. And the phone would ring and Peter would say, I really like that, I think I'll put that in the lead.

ENSOR: You remember that?

LIN: Oh, yes, distinctly.

ENSOR: Standard operating procedure.

LIN: Standard operating procedure. And sometimes there would be speculation in a moment of brief bitterness because the program was going to air in another hour and you need to get your story done.

ENSOR: Right. LIN: But Peter was just being difficult or jealous because he was the one who wanted to be the correspondent or to take the credit for the piece. But that really, in fact, wasn't true because I found subsequently I'm a much better writer because of that process. Because he pushed and he made you think and he made you question.

ENSOR: Absolutely.

LIN: And he challenged you by, you know what, by taking your lead, it forced you really to write a much denser story.

ENSOR: That's right. And, after all, that is the way the program was structured and is structured. You know, it is an anchor that first brings the story to people and then we have to kind of fill in behind it and explain why it's so fascinating and we get to use pictures and, you know, sound bytes and all sorts of material that we collect. So it works very well. But it was a big of a blow sometimes to have your best line taken.

LIN: Did it surprise you . . .

ENSOR: He was right. He was right, though.


ENSOR: I he was one of the most influential people on my life, certainly, and I think probably many Americans. Such a suave, debonair guy. So good looking, yet so, so dedicated to his craft.

LIN: So dedicated. And that intensity when you're sitting across the table from him and he's asking you about your story and, you know, as a junior correspondent when I first joined, the first I had a run of stories all of a sudden for no apparent reason but maybe, I don't know, two or three in a span of a couple of weeks, which was a lot for an L.A.-based correspondent, and Peter Jennings himself picked up the telephone and he wanted to let me know, you know what, don't get used to this, you still have to earn your stripes.

ENSOR: Yes. Yes. Well, there were those calls, weren't there. I miss him already. He had a lot of influence on me as a young correspondent as well. We've been hearing these stories, you know, George and Tom and from you. I admired him. I looked up to him. I found it difficult to work for but he kept the standards high and I thought he was just magnificent on the air. As George was describing, you know, a fire in the control room or in the studio, that wouldn't phase Peter and he would simply tell it as part of the story. We're having a little bit of a fire. We'll move we'll get this sorted out and move on.

He was terrific at I think probably the best of the anchors at changing the story in his head as he was going. All right, something's just happened, that changes everything, click. Peter's brain would figure out all the implications and start trying to explain them to people in a way that was truly breathtaking to watch.

LIN: We saw that on 9/11 hour after hour after hour as he sat there carrying the coverage.

David, thank you very much for sharing your memories.

ENSOR: Thank you.

LIN: The folks at ABC News, the people who have worked with Peter Jennings for more than 30 years, are remembering him as well. And a short time ago, Ted Koppel was describing, you know, some funny stories about the man that he worked with and loved.


TED KOPPEL: You've seen, and our audience has seen, in looking, even as we look now, at some of those early pictures of Peter Jennings, he was a stunningly handsome man. Bore a not slight resemblance to Roger Moore during the time that he was paying 007 and oh what a heartbreaker he was. I remember on one occasion, on that first two-year tour of anchoring, he went around the country on a promotional tour and some young woman from our affiliate, I think it was in Denver, had said, Peter, will you marry me. And jokingly he said, yes. And when he got to Denver, there she was at the foot of the ramp of the plane dressed in a bridal gown.


LIN: Ted Koppel sharing some of his memories tonight as ABC News broke the news that Peter Jennings died at the age of 67 of lung cancer. He had made that announcement back in April and it seems not so long ago. It has only been four months when he had since he announced that he was going into treatment for a very aggressive form of lung cancer. They knew that it was not operable but they were going to try chemotherapy and Peter Jennings talked so poignantly on that day, April 5th, about how he was going to learn to live with cancer and fight with cancer.

In fact, you know, given that he's had a 41 year span, a career at ABC News virtually unprecedented, the way he looked at his career was really interesting in terms of the perspective that he gave to our very own Larry King a couple of years ago.


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: How much longer you want to be doing what you do?

PETER JENNINGS: You mean sitting here in a dark room talking to you rather than seeing you in person?

KING: Anchoring the news, doing specials, traveling the world.

JENNINGS: Oh, well, I think I'll never stop traveling the world. I, you know, I love it. I love it. I love it. You know that well. I there comes a time when doing a daily broadcast is perhaps not as rewarding as it is to me now. You can see by my excitement that I love doing these specials and I'm deeply grateful to ABC that I am one of the few people who has the opportunity to do them. And I don't think that will end, whether I'm working at ABC or anywhere else. But I love the fact that ABC supports them. And so I'd have to say, at the moment, I'm a pretty happy fellow.

KING: Do you ever envision yourself working somewhere else? I mean you're so identified with that network?

JENNINGS: Yes, of course one always thinks I think what one thinks about one's self is one envisions oneself working. I've had a long and greatly satisfying career at ABC. I there are a couple times in the course of the last 30 some odd years that I've thought about going somewhere else. I've never been able to do it. But if I were to leave ABC News or ABC News were to leave me, I'd hate to think that I was going to stop working.

KING: Peter, it's always a pleasure having you on. I wish I were with you, but thanks so much. I look forward to seeing (INAUDIBLE).

JENNINGS: And I do too. I do too, Larry. I, you know, you're very nice to say so. Thanks a lot.


LIN: It is hard to even imagine ABC News without Peter Jennings.

Our very own Jim Bittermann, based in Paris, worked with Peter for six years. Jim joins me on the telephone now from Paris.

Jim, some of your memories.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, I mean, listening to you and David talking really brought back a lot of memories for me. I mean one of the things that I think well, all of us overseas that was so important was that he stressed all the time the international aspect of stories and I think maybe coming from Canada, maybe that was it, or the but I maybe it was just his constant need to travel the world, as he was talking there to Larry King. But whatever it was, he constantly emphasized the international aspect on stories. And for us overseas, that was terrific and it was kind of terrible at the same time because sometimes he would know much more about the story than you did.

I remember very well, I was doing a live shot out of Amman and, you know, David said that he would never rehearse a question ahead of time. He would never give you the question ahead of time when you were going to be doing some question and answers with him. And I was standing there getting ready for the live shot. He was in a commercial and he came on to the intercom to my ear and he said, hey Jim, by the way, what's the name of that hill that is there behind you in Amman. And you know, I took a look around, I had no idea. It had nothing do to with the story whatsoever. He just wanted to know the name.


And I realized I had better be ready for just about any kind of question he could throw at me.

CAROL LEE, CNN ANCHOR: Jim Bittermann, thank you so much. Peter Jennings, so curious, so demanding, wanted to make sure you understand the story and understood where you were. A man with a sense of humor and an absolute sense of perfection.

We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.



LIN: Good morning to you on the East Coast, good evening, out West. I'm Carol Lin at the CNN Center. For the last hour we have been reporting the news that Peter Jennings, the anchorman, the managing editor of "World News Tonight", has died tonight at the age of 67. He had suffered a diagnosis of lung cancer. It was inoperable. He had been undergoing chemotherapy for the past four months.

And we learned tonight that he died peacefully in his apartment in New York City, surrounded by his wife, his two children and his sister.

On the telephone with me right now is Jeff Greenfield, who worked with Peter Jennings for 14 years at ABC News.

Jeff, in just listening to so many of the stories that here at CNN and elsewhere have told about Peter. I'm just wondering, what do you think Peter Jenning's legacy is going to be and what is going to happen to "World News Tonight"?

GREENFIELD: "World News Tonight" is going to go on. I think it is going -- I'm sure it is something that has been very much on the minds of the executives there since this dreadful news was first learned.

I think Peter is going to be seen as kind of -- maybe the last of these kind of giants and maybe a figure that we are increasingly going to miss. That is, I don't know that we're ever going to get someone coming into the anchor chair with the depth of international knowledge that Peter had. And as one of our colleagues mentioned, certainly after 9/11, the idea of somebody who was grounded in areas like Islam, like the Middle East, like the challenge to the United States of very different cultures and people with very different views.

The fact that Peter had that kind of knowledge as he reported those stories, was really an important -- just a desperately important quality that I think we're going to miss more and more in the days ahead. Not just because we're going to miss Peter, but we're going to miss what he brought to it.

LIN: Jeff, it must be --

GREENFIELD: And I think that's a key. The other part about him is for those of us who worked with him, you've heard some of these stories, some of the more amusing quirks about Peter. I mean, he's this man, incredibly handsome, incredibly sophisticated, incredibly suave, debonair, all those words. And I have -- I just have this memory that -- one of the first very successful conventions we worked together, I had this bizarre tie. It was a tie that looked like a very fancy men's club type. It was actually New York City subway tokens.

And we were preparing to go on the air, I don't know, some months later on, on an election night. He looked at me and he said, "Where's that tie?". I said, "Well, it's in my office." He said, "Put it on." And I realized that he thought it was a good luck charm. We had had a good broadcast with me wearing that tie. And here is this guy, the model of a kind of unflappable anchor, who -- who insisted that one of his correspondents, or analysts, or whatever I was, go back and put on the tie that somehow worked some magic some months earlier.


GREENFIELD: And every election broadcast we did, Peter, one of the things he always said to me was, go get that tie.

LIN: Oh.

GREENFIELD: And that's a very humanizing quality of a guy you would not necessarily think was driven to the idea of a good luck charm.

LIN: No.

GREENFIELD: But that was a part of his personality as well, I think.

LIN: He was full of surprises. Jeff, it must be tremendously frustrating for Peter Jennings to not be here to write his own epitaph, because he was such a brilliant and sensitive writer. What do you think he would say, in the day to come, as every -- networks around the world explore this man's life and legacy.

GREENFIELD: He would caution us against excessive sentimentality. He would say, do not descent into bathos, or pathos, either one. Report what I did. Get it right. You know, put the story where it belongs. And keep a little bit of a distance. This is news you're reporting. And you can be part of it, and tell these stories, that's fine. But, you know, the day after tomorrow there will be other stories. And he was very insistent I think on keeping a certain kind of tone on the news that respected the audience and that did not try to plum its most superficial, or on the surface, emotions.

And a lot of us are feeling very grieved tonight, I think.

LIN: Yes.

GREENFIELD: And realize what we've lost. And I think Peter would say, "OK, thank you. I appreciate that you've like the work that I did. But you know there will be news the day after tomorrow and there will be news a year after tomorrow. After I'm gone and after you're gone. That's part of what made him, to some people, I think, demanding, not as touchy feely as they would want. But boy, what he cared about was what I think is in danger now. And that is real news, reported as honestly and meticulously as you can.

LIN: Jeff Greenfield, we're going to have to leave it there. Thank you very much for sharing your memories, you're thoughts, and expressing the loss, both to "World News Tonight" and the journalism community, as a whole.

Peter Jennings, dead at the age of 67. And though he may be frustrated that he can't be here to write his own story, his own epitaph. This is what he did have to say, when he was first diagnosed and shared the news with the audience. In that sense, he will have the last word tonight in this hour, Peter Jennings, April 5.


PETER JENNINGS, ABC ANCHOR, "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT": Finally, this evening a brief note about change. Some of you have noticed in the last several days that I was not covering the pope. While my colleagues at ABC today did a superb job, I do think a few times I was missing out.

However, as some of you now know, I have learned in the last couple of days that I have lung cancer. Yes, I was a smoker until about 20 years ago. And I was weak and I smoked over 9/11. But whatever the reason, the news does slow you down a bit. I've been reminding my colleagues today, who have all been incredibly supportive, that almost 10 million Americans are already living with cancer and I have a lot to learn from them. And living is the key word. The National Cancer Institute says that we are survivors from the moment of diagnosis.

I will continue to do the broadcast on good days. My voice will not always be like this. Certainly, it's been a long time. And I hope it goes without saying that a journalists who doesn't value deeply the audience's loyalty should be in another line of work. To be perfectly honest, I'm a little surprised at the kindness today from so many people. That is not intended as false modesty, but even I was taken aback by how far and how fast news travels.

Finally, I wonder if other men and women ask their doctors, right away, OK, Doc, when does the hair go? At any rate, that's it for now on "World News Tonight". Have a good evening. I'm Peter Jennings. Thanks and good night.