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Longtime journalist Roger Mudd dies at 93

Longtime political correspondent and anchor Roger Mudd died Tuesday at the age of 93. He spent much of his career at CBS, before joining NBC News and then MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. We take a moment to remember his life and decades-long career.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Now, we remember the career of Roger Mudd, a broadcast journalist known for his incisive questioning and tough approach to news, especially in the nation's capital.

    Mudd, who died today, worked as a correspondent here at the "NewsHour" for several years.

    Jeffrey Brown has our appreciation.

  • Narrator:

    This is "The CBS Evening News With Roger Mudd."

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    For almost 20 years, beginning in 1961, Roger Mudd was a familiar face in millions of American households as a correspondent for CBS News.

  • Roger Mudd:

    This is Roger Mudd at the U.S. Capitol.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    It was the era of three major networks, and Mudd stood out, covering Congress and national election campaigns, including a famous moment in 1979 with Ted Kennedy, and a simple question that left him stunned.

  • Roger Mudd:

    Why do you want to be president?

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    He was also primary substitute for anchor Walter Cronkite.

    Among many memorable moments, Mudd was present reporting on the night Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles in 1968. He called his 2018 memoir of those CBS years "The Place to Be."

    And in a conversation the "NewsHour," he told me why.

  • Roger Mudd:

    Because it was a perfect storm. It was a collection of principled, talented, honest, hardworking, very tough perfectionists who all came together during a 20-year period that had written into those two decades violence, chaos, marvelous stories, terrible stories to cover, constitutional crises, assassinations.

    Everything that could have happened, happened in those 20 years, and we were there with a swagger covering every bit of it.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    There was always bruising competition.

  • Roger Mudd:

    The rule at CBS News during those 20 years was, first, we cover the news, and, next, you beat the hell out of NBC.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Roger Mudd:

    We used to call it the national biscuit company.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    But, in 1980, Mudd joined NBC, his longtime rival…

  • Roger Mudd:

    I'm Roger Mudd, NBC News, New York.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    … when CBS chose Dan Rather ahead of him as Cronkite's successor.

    He later spent five years with us at the "NewsHour" as a substitute anchor…

  • Roger Mudd:

    Our top story is today's trade news.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    … and congressional correspondent.

    In one classic Mudd moment, he found a way to sneak in a question to Congressman Dan Rostenkowski he had been told was off-limits.

  • Rep. Dan Rostenkowski:

    I don't want to talk about that.

  • Roger Mudd:

    OK. All right. Well, I promised I would ask you.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    He also contributed essays.

  • Roger Mudd:

    So, did George Bush pull it off last night or not?

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    He is well-remembered as a colleague who seemed to know every one of Washington's nooks and crannies and loved talking about them.

    He ended his career as a host at The History Channel, retiring in 2004. Roger's wife, E.J., died in 2011. They had four children and 14 grandchildren.

    Roger Mudd died of kidney failure at his home in McLean, Virginia. He was 93 years old.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Jeffrey Brown.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    A man who left his mark in journalism.

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