Longtime politics reporter Bruce Morton dead at 83

The famous “Boys on the Bus”–the gaggle of reporters who covered the 1972 McGovern/Nixon race, memorialized in Tim Crouse’s book of the same name–lost another member today. Longtime CBS and CNN correspondent Bruce Morton died Thursday afternoon in Washington after a battle with cancer. He was a near 30-year veteran of CBS News, who covered everything from Vietnam to Civil Rights to, notably, politics. Former PBS NewsHour correspondent Terence Smith worked with Morton at CBS then, and said today, “the amazing thing about Bruce was, he would cover a story for the day, and at the end of that long day he would sit at, what we used then: a typewriter, and craft the most-perfectly turned, perfectly-phrased portrait of the day’s events. He was the perfect television writer, who understood the medium. That is a gift. He was better at it than any of his contemporaries, and maybe one of the best ever.”

Morton decamped for CNN in 1993. There he served as National Correspondent, and in-house éminence grise, lending a learned and wise take on the news. He often did so alongside the PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff, who anchored the network’s “Inside Politics” program then, and frequently called on Morton’s counsel on and off-air. “Bruce was a joy to work with,” she said today. “He was a walking encyclopedia of American politics, the ‘go to’ guy for just the right quote or historical reference. He was the consummate gentleman who somehow managed to keep us all laughing, even when the news was hard to take. What a gift he was to television news.”

In 2000, as the primary season heated up, Terence Smith looked for the bridge between the old “Boys on the Bus” and the burgeoning digital age campaign coaches–now with as many “girls” as “boys”. He interviewed two pillars of that long-ago era still on the trail; both, now gone: Jack Germond, and Bruce Morton. Here they are, part of “The Boys and Girls on the Bus.”

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