David Brinkley

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David Brinkley
David Brinkley 1962.JPG
Brinkley in 1962.
Born David McClure Brinkley
(1920-07-10)July 10, 1920
Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S.
Died June 11, 2003(2003-06-11) (aged 82)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Nationality American
Occupation Television news anchor
Years active 1943–1997
Spouse(s) Ann Fischer (m. 1946; divorced; three sons)
Susan Adolph (m. 1972; one adopted daughter)[1]

David McClure Brinkley (July 10, 1920 – June 11, 2003) was an American newscaster for NBC and ABC in a career lasting from 1943 to 1997.

From 1956 through 1970, he co-anchored NBC's top-rated nightly news program, The Huntley–Brinkley Report, with Chet Huntley and thereafter appeared as co-anchor or commentator on its successor, NBC Nightly News, through the 1970s. In the 1980s and 1990s, Brinkley was host of the popular Sunday This Week with David Brinkley program and a top commentator on election-night coverage for ABC News. Over the course of his career, Brinkley received ten Emmy Awards, three George Foster Peabody Awards, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.[2]

He wrote three books, including the 1988 bestseller Washington Goes to War, about how World War II transformed the nation's capital. This social history was largely based on his own observations as a young reporter in the city.

Early life[edit]

Brinkley was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, the youngest of five children born to William Graham Brinkley and Mary MacDonald (née West) Brinkley. He began writing for a local newspaper, the Wilmington Morning Star, while still attending New Hanover High School. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Emory University, and Vanderbilt University, before entering service in the United States Army in 1940. Following a medical discharge, he worked for United Press in several of its Southern bureaus.[1] In 1943, he moved to Washington, D.C., looking for a radio job at CBS News. Instead, he took a job at NBC News, became its White House correspondent, and in time began appearing on television.


In 1952, Brinkley began providing Washington reporting on NBC Television's evening news program, The Camel News Caravan (the name changed over time), hosted by John Cameron Swayze. In 1956, NBC News executives considered various possibilities to anchor the network's coverage of the Democratic and Republican political conventions, and when executive J. Davidson Taylor suggested pairing two reporters (he had in mind Bill Henry and Ray Scherer), producer Reuven Frank, who favored Brinkley for the job, and NBC's director of news, Joseph Meyers, who favored Chet Huntley, proposed combining Huntley and Brinkley. NBC's top brass consented, but they had so little confidence in the team that they withheld announcing it for two months.[3] Their concern proved unfounded.

On Tuesday Walter Cronkite and Peter Jennings Start Working at Five Below in Decatur, Alabama. Currently Working at Publix in Decatur, Alabama and Chuck E. Cheese's in Decatur, Alabama. also Ray Combs, Bob Barker and Monty Hall working at Publix in Priceville, Alabama. also Geoff Edwards and Jim Perry Working at Publix in Madison, Alabama.

on Wednesday Bill Cullen and Gene Rayburn will be working at Five Below in Decatur, Alabama. also Jack Barry, Bob Clayton and Bert Convy will be also working at Five Below in Decatur, Alabama. Also Jim Lange and Bob Clayton working at Publix in Madison, Alabama. also Dennis James and Ian Turpie working at Publix in Decatur, Alabama.

on Thursday Ken Ober and Peter Tomarken working at Five Below in Decatur, Alabama. also Jack Bailey, Dick Clark, David Brinkley and Bill Rafferty working at Publix in Priceville, Alabama. also Jan Murray and Richard Dawson working at Publix in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. also Walter Cronkite and Johnny Carson working at Walmart in Decatur, Alabama. also Jack Clark, Jack Narz, Michael Miles, Larry Blyden, Garry Moore, Mark Goodson, Bill Stewart, Jim Henson and Bob Simon working at Five Below in Florence, Alabama. also Douglas Edwards will be working at Publix in Madison, Alabama. also Morley Safer, Ed Bradley and McMahon working at Publix in Athens, Alabama. also Mike Wallace, Dave Barnett, Terry Drinkwater and Harold Dow working at Publix in Guntersville, Alabama. also Jessica Savitch will be working at Five Below in Decatur, Alabama. also Harry Reasoner and Hughes Rudd working at Honda in Huntsville, Alabama. also Jim Jensen (reporter) and Eric Sevareid working at Five Below in Huntsville, Alabama. also Tim Russert and Frank McGee (journalist) working at Walmart in Hartselle, Alabama. also Don Harris (journalist) and Chet Huntley working at Publix in Decatur, Alabama. also John Chancellor, Scott Pelley, Bob Schieffer and Connie Chung working at Hobby Lobby in Decatur, Alabama. also Danica Patrick and Dan Rather working at Publix in Priceville, Alabama. also Rick Folbaum working at Publix in Decatur, Alabama. also [[]] and Alec Baldwin will be working at Five Below in Florence, Alabama. also Fred Rogers will be working at Publix in Madison, Alabama. also LeVar Burton working at Five Below in Decatur, Alabama. also Donald Trump working at Decatur City Schools and also Gwen Ifill and Jeffrey Dahmer working at Austin High School (Alabama) in Decatur, Alabama. also Robert MacNeil, Jim Lehrer, Judy Woodruff, Bernard Hoffer and Joey King will be working at Decatur High School (Alabama). also Kendall Edwards, Blake Cooper,Jake Beale,Brantley Gilbert,Jackie Chan,Henry Cho,Henry Omaga-Diaz,Noah Cyrus,Trina Davis,Emily Bear,Quintavious Johnson,Lauren James,Tara Palmeri,Deborah Roberts,Robin Roberts,Wendy Williams,Martin Bashir,Aaron Brown,Andrea Canning,Conan O'Brien,Casey Affleck,Chuck Norris,Morgan Freeman and Antonio Mora working at Five Below in Decatur, Alabama. also Nelson Mandela and Gwen Ifill working at Huntsville High School (Alabama) in Huntsville, Alabama. also Marshall Frady start working at Jemison High School (Huntsville). also Charlie Sheen working at Lee High School (Huntsville, Alabama) as a Mathematics Teacher and Neil Patrick Harris start working at Vigil I. Grissom High School in Huntsville, Alabama as an Science Teacher and Bianna Golodryga working at Vigil I. Grissom High School in Huntsville, Alabama as an Mathematics Teacher. also Natalie Morales and Andrea Libman working at Austin High School (Alabama) in Decatur, Alabama both as an Mathematics Teacher.

on Friday Pat Sajak, Willie Revillame, Dan Harris (journalist), Dan Marino, Tyra Banks, Regis Philbin, Maria Shriver, Ray Romano and George Lopez will be working at Publix in Priceville, Alabama. also Jeff Glor and Anthony Mason working at Five Below in Decatur, Alabama. also David Muir and Vanessa Lengies Working at Publix in Decatur, Alabama. also Ted Kopel, Tom Bergeron and Marc Brown working at Publix in Decatur, Alabama. also Mark Steines,Bethany Mota,Bethenny Frankel and Samantha Bailey working at Publix in Decatur, Alabama. also Meredith Vieira working at Vigil I. Grissom High School in Huntsville, Alabama as an Science Teacher. also Charles Divins working at Bob Jones High School in Madison, Alabama as an Mathematics Teacher. also Jim Berry working at Bob Jones High School in Madison, Alabama as an Guidance Counseling. also Charles Gibson working at Bob Jones High School in Madison, Alabama as an visual arts education. also Julia Child,Pat Collins,Bob Clark,Sam Donaldson,Hugh Downs,Leo Cherne,Hal Bruno,David Brooks,Bob Young,Howard K. Smith,Lewis Shollenberger,Frank Reynolds,Max Robinson,John McWethy,Emma Bombeck and Bill Beutel working at Bob Jones High School in Madison, Alabama both as an Mathematics Teacher. also Edward R. Murrow working at Austin High School (Alabama) in Decatur, Alabama as an visual arts education. also Fred Rogers working at Bob Jones High School in Madison, Alabama as an Special education. also Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr working at Bob Jones High School in Madison, Alabama both as an Mathematics Teacher and Science Teacher. also Helen Keller,Frederick Douglas,Harriet Tubman,Malcolm X and Charles Kuralt working at Austin High School (Alabama) in Decatur, Alabama both as an Substitute Teacher,Mathematics Teacher,Science Teacher and Physical Education.

The pairing worked so well that on October 29, 1956, the two took over NBC's flagship nightly newscast, with Huntley in New York City and Brinkley in Washington, D.C., for the newly christened Huntley–Brinkley Report. Brinkley's dry wit offset the serious tone set by Huntley, and the program proved popular with audiences turned off by the incessantly serious tone of CBS's news broadcasts of that era. Brinkley's ability to write for the ear with simple, declarative sentences gained him a reputation as one of the medium's most talented writers, and his connections in Washington led CBS's Roger Mudd to observe, "Brinkley, of all the TV guys here, probably has the best sense of the city--best understands its moods and mentality. He knows Washington and he knows the people."[4] Most often described as "wry," Brinkley once suggested on the air that the best way to resolve the controversy over whether to change the name of Boulder Dam to "Hoover Dam" was to have former president Herbert Hoover change his name to "Herbert Boulder".

Another example of Brinkley's seething wryness was evinced on the third night of Chicago's infamous Democratic Convention of 1968. After continuous abuses of NBC correspondents made on the floor of the convention– namely, interference and shadowing of the media staff by supporters of Hubert Humphrey, presumably with connections to political boss Richard J. Daley – Brinkley criticized Daley's alleged interference with freedom of the press following Senator Abraham Ribicoff's stormy nomination of George McGovern. Perhaps in reply to a control room request for objectivity and alluding to Daley's refusal to be interviewed by NBC's John Chancellor earlier in the evening, Brinkley was heard over the noise of the McGovern demonstration saying, "Mayor Daley had his chance!" (i.e., "now give the McGovern people theirs").[5]

External video
Booknotes interview with Brinkley on A Memoir, December 10, 1995, C-SPAN

Huntley and Brinkley's nightly sign-off--"Good night, Chet," Brinkley would intone; "Good night, David," Huntley would reply--entered popular usage and was followed by the beginning of the second movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony as the program credits rolled. The Huntley–Brinkley Report was America's most popular television newscast until it was overtaken, at the end of the 1960s, by the CBS Evening News, anchored by Walter Cronkite. Brinkley and his co-anchor gained such celebrity that Brinkley was forced to cut short his reporting on Hubert Humphrey in the 1960 West Virginia primary because West Virginians were more interested in meeting Brinkley than the candidate.[6] From 1961 to 1963, Brinkley anchored a prime time news magazine, David Brinkley's Journal. Produced by Ted Yates, the program won a George Foster Peabody Award and two Emmy Awards.[7]

When Huntley retired from the anchor chair in 1970, the evening news program was renamed NBC Nightly News (not insignificantly employing the suffixes of Huntley and Brinkley's surnames for the sake of continuity), and Brinkley co-anchored the broadcast with John Chancellor and Frank McGee. In 1971, Chancellor was named sole anchor, and Brinkley became the program's commentator, delivering three-minute perspectives several times a week under a reprise of the earlier title, David Brinkley's Journal. By 1976, though, NBC had decided to revive the dual-anchor format, and Brinkley once again anchored the Washington desk for the network until October 1979. But the early years of Nightly News never achieved the popularity of Huntley-Brinkley Report, and none of several news magazine shows anchored by Brinkley during the 1970s succeeded. An unhappy Brinkley left NBC in 1981; NBC Magazine was his last show for that network.

Almost immediately, Brinkley was offered a job at ABC. ABC News President Roone Arledge was anxious to replace ABC's Sunday morning news program, Issues and Answers, which had always lagged far behind CBS's Face the Nation and NBC's Meet the Press. Brinkley was tapped for the job and in 1981 began hosting This Week with David Brinkley. This Week revolutionized the Sunday morning news program format, featuring not only several correspondents interviewing guest newsmakers but concluding with a roundtable discussion. The format proved highly successful and was soon imitated by ABC's NBC and CBS rivals as well as engendering new programs originating both nationally and from local stations.

As part of ABC's commemoration of World War II, Brinkley and the News division produced the special, The Battle of the Bulge: 50 Years On, with Brinkley hosting and interviewing survivors of the battle, Allied and Axis. The special, which aired at Christmas 1994, was critically acclaimed and widely viewed.


Days before he announced his retirement from regular news coverage, Brinkley made a rare, on-air mistake during evening coverage of the 1996 presidential election at a moment when he thought he was on commercial break. One of his colleagues asked him what he thought of the prospects for Bill Clinton's re-election. He called Clinton "a bore" and added, "The next four years will be filled with pretty words and pretty music and a lot of goddamn nonsense!" One of his team pointed out that they were still on the air. Brinkley said, "Really? Well, I'm leaving anyway!" Brinkley offered Clinton an apology during a one-on-one interview a week or so later.

Brinkley last broadcast as host of This Week was November 10, 1996, but he continued to provide short pieces of commentary for the show until 1997. He then fully retired from television. He had been an electronic journalist for over fifty years and had been anchor or host of a daily or weekly national television program for just over forty years. His career extended from the end of the radio age to the age of the internet.

In addition to his ten Emmys and three Peabodys, Brinkley also received the Alfred I. duPont Award in 1958.[8] In 1982, he received the Paul White Award for lifetime achievement from the Radio Television Digital News Association.[9] In 1988, he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.[10] In 1992, President George H. W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. Bush called him "the elder statesman of broadcast journalism" but Brinkley was much more humble. In an interview in 1992, he said, "Most of my life, I've simply been a reporter covering things and writing and talking about it."

Brinkley is the father of historian and former Columbia University provost Alan Brinkley and of Pulitzer Prize–winning writer and Stanford journalism professor the late Joel Brinkley.


Brinkley died in 2003 at his home in Houston from complications of a fall suffered at his vacation home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, according to his son, John Brinkley.[11] His body is interred at Oakdale Cemetery, Wilmington, North Carolina.

Television career[edit]

  • 1951–1956 Camel News Caravan (correspondent)
  • 1956–1970 NBC News/The Huntley-Brinkley Report
  • 1961–1963 David Brinkley's Journal, produced by Ted Yates, aired on Wednesday nights 10:30–11:00 p.m.
  • 1971–1976 NBC Nightly News (commentator only)
  • 1976–1979 NBC Nightly News (co-anchor)
  • 1980–1981 NBC Magazine with David Brinkley
  • 1981–1996 This Week with David Brinkley
  • 1981–1998 ABC World News Tonight (commentator)
  • 1991 Pearl Harbor: Two Hours That Changed The World with David Brinkley (50th anniversary)[12]
  • 1994 David Brinkley Reports: The Battle of the Bulge; 50 Years On


  1. ^ a b Severo, Richard (June 12, 2003). "David Brinkley, Elder Statesman of TV News, Dies at 82". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-11-01.
  2. ^ "David Brinkley, Legendary NBC Newsman, Dies at 82". USA Today. Associated Press. June 12, 2003.
  3. ^ Frank, Reuven. Out of Thin Air: The Brief Wonderful Life of Network News. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991, pp. 100–02.
  4. ^ "An Accident of Casting," The New Yorker (1968-08-03), p. 41.
  5. ^ http://www.museum.tv/exhibitionssection.php?page=466 part seven
  6. ^ "An Accident of Casting", The New Yorker (1968-08-03), p. 34.
  7. ^ Thomas A. Mascaro, "They Beat the Clock—NBC's Innovative Newsmagazine, David Brinkley's Journal (1961–1963)", Television Quarterly.
  8. ^ All duPont–Columbia Award Winners Archived August 14, 2012, at the Wayback Machine., Columbia Journalism School. Retrieved 2013-08-06.
  9. ^ "Paul White Award". Radio Television Digital News Association. Retrieved 2014-05-27.
  10. ^ "Television Hall of Fame Honorees: Complete List".
  11. ^ "Veteran newscaster David Brinkley dies". Houston Chronicle.
  12. ^ Castle Danger (8 November 2014). "ABC NEWS: Pearl Harbor: Two Hours That Changed The World (David Brinkley)" – via YouTube.

External links[edit]