Halton was born in Beaconsfield, England in 1940. His father Matthew Halton, was a war correspondent for the CBC Radio during World War II and died when David was 16 years old on December 3, 1956. The senior Halton had a big influence in David's career choice. His sister Kathleen Tynan was the second wife and biographer of the English theatre critic Ken Tynan.
David Halton joined CBC in 1965, and has spent time as a foreign affairs correspondent in:
- Paris correspondent 1965-1968
- Moscow correspondent 1968-1969
- Middle East
- Vietnam 1970s
- Ottawa 1978-1991
- Washington, D.C. 1991-2005
Before moving to Washington, Halton was the chief political correspondent in Ottawa for the CBC. He retired in June 2005, although he still acts as a special contributor on CBC, and is currently working on a book.