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Bernard Shaw, CNN’s first chief anchor and Black TV pioneer, dies at 82

Former CNN anchor and pioneering journalist Bernard Shaw dead at 82

Bernard Shaw, CNN’s chief anchor for two decades, has died aged 82 of pneumonia on Wednesday at a hospital in Washington.

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Bernard Shaw, CNN’s first chief anchor who was with the network for more than 20 years, has died at age 82 from pneumonia.  

Shaw’s death was unrelated to COVID-19, CNN confirmed. He is survived by his wife, Linda, and their two children.  

The longtime journalist was known for remaining calm under frightening circumstances, including his reporting from Baghdad during the first Gulf War as explosions could be heard and seen in the city.  

Shaw was a U.S. Marine who was also a reporter for CBS and ABC News before being chief anchor at CNN when it began in 1980.  

“Bernie was a CNN original and was our Washington Anchor when we launched on June 1st, 1980,” Chris Licht, CNN chairman and CEO, said in a statement Thursday, CNN reported.

“He was our lead anchor for the next twenty years from anchoring coverage of presidential elections to his iconic coverage of the First Gulf War live from Baghdad in 1991. Even after he left CNN, Bernie remained a close member of our CNN family providing our viewers with context about historic events as recently as last year. The condolences of all of us at CNN go out to his wife Linda and his children.” 

CNN also noted that Shaw, who was Black, was on the air when other networks had white men as their lead anchors. 

Shaw moderated the 1988 presidential debate between former President George H. W. Bush and Michael Dukakis. He asked Dukakis, an opponent of the death penalty: “If Kitty Dukakis (Dukakis’ wife) were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?“

Shaw said in 2000 that he would begin stepping back from his role at CNN to spend more time with his family. During his career, he received lifetime achievement awards and was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame.  

Shaw’s family has requested donations be made to the Bernard Shaw Scholarship Fund at the University of Chicago in lieu of flowers.  


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