Peter Jennings
News anchor
Peter Jennings
Peter Charles Archibald Ewart Jennings, CM was a Canadian American journalist and news anchor. He was the sole anchor of ABC's World News Tonight from 1983 until his death in 2005 of complications from lung cancer. A high-school dropout, he transformed himself into one of American television's most prominent journalists. Jennings started his career early, hosting a Canadian radio show at the age of nine.
Biography
Peter Jennings's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Peter Jennings from around the web
WATCH: Reflections From the Last Man to Walk on the Moon
ABC News - about 1 month
Former astronaut Gene Cernan sat down with Peter Jennings in 1998 to reminisce about his adventures in space.
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ABC News article
Watch: ARCHIVAL VIDEO: Justice Scalia Issues Public Statement on Bush v. Gore
ABC News - about 1 year
Peter Jennings and Prof. Steven Gey discuss the conservative judge's motive in this Special Report from Dec. 11, 2000.
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ABC News article
New York Times Names Jim Rutenberg Media Columnist After Almost Yearlong Search
Huffington Post - about 1 year
NEW YORK -- The New York Times has named magazine writer Jim Rutenberg as the paper's next media columnist, filling a prominent perch that was left vacant nearly a year ago following the death of David Carr.  "Our hunt for David’s successor has been exhaustive, and we were privileged to have had extraordinary candidates from both inside and outside The Times," Executive Editor Dean Baquet and Business Editor Dean Murphy wrote in a staff memo. "Jim brings to the job a passion for the story, a track record in covering the industry and the experienced eye of an astute observer." The Times began searching for Carr's successor last spring, speaking early on to writers from New York magazine, Vanity Fair and NPR, as well as journalists inside the paper. But Carr's legacy, as one of the paper's most incisive writers and as a leading ambassador for Times' journalism, prompted editors to be especially deliberate in making a final decision. (function(){var src_url="https://spshared ...
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Huffington Post article
Why Daily Fantasy Sports Is Redefining Gambling
Huffington Post - about 1 year
What is gambling? It's a new question with an old-aged answer. The creation of daily fantasy sports necessitates a change in our country's legal definition of gambling. Ever since DraftKings and FanDuel attracted the attention of politicians looking to get a slice of their multi-billion dollar businesses for state funds (free money off of someone else's idea!), the companies have had to hire high-priced lawyers to defend the legality of their businesses. In court, the debate centers around one key issue: does daily fantasy sports involve more skill or more chance? If it is predominantly chance, then under most state laws it constitutes gambling and states have the authority to outlaw or regulate it. However, if it is predominantly a game of skill, as the companies contend, then it is not gambling and federal law exempts it from state regulation. Here is the problem. Gambling should NOT be narrowly defined as a game dominated by chance. Just look at the varying categories of gambling ...
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Huffington Post article
Interview: Writer/Director James Vanderbilt on <i>Truth</i>
Huffington Post - over 1 year
James Vanderbilt is the in-demand writer behind some of the most high-profile releases in Hollywood for more than a decade now, having penned such memorably diverse films as The Losers, Zodiac, and The Rundown. For his directing debut, Truth, the veteran screenwriter chose to dramatize 60 Minutes II's 2004 investigation into President Bush's National Guard service, a story whose aftermath proved so explosive that it led to the resignation/retirement of longtime CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather, who reported the story. The film stars Cate Blanchett as 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes (upon whose memoir the script is based), and movie legend Robert Redford as news legend Rather, and it's imminently watchable thanks to the investigative format and the sterling cast that's been assembled. I recently had a chance to talk Truth with the game Vanderbilt, as well as his work on the two Amazing Spider-Man films and my fondness for White House Down. In addition, we also discussed the state of ...
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Huffington Post article
Sex Trafficking Victims Return To Children of the Night After 36 Years
Huffington Post - over 1 year
A Moment in History is About to Occur for America's Child Sex Trafficking Movement Women from Across the United States Will Reunite October 27th to Thank Donors Who Have Given $40 Million Over the Past 36 Years to Help Make Their Successful Lives Possible Today, these successful women work in various fields including banking, firefighting, teaching, drug counseling and domestic violence advocacy. Juli works as an advocate for a Police Department and is headed for law school. Lynne is retired Homeland Security. These women are a testament of what can be done when resources are available and case management, education and long term support is provided by skilled, credentialed professionals. America's child sex trafficking epidemic began in the late 70's. In 1981, the General Accounting Office estimated there were 600,000 American children under the age of 16 working as prostitutes in the United States. On July 9th, 1993, Honorable Janet Reno made a commitment for t ...
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Huffington Post article
Top 10 'SNL' Political Sketches Of All Time
Huffington Post - over 1 year
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Huffington Post article
The 2016 Presidential Election Just May Be Determined by Reddit
Huffington Post - over 3 years
When you say it out loud, "World Wide Web" sounds anachronistic. It sounds like an optimistic but geeky term scientists used to describe the Internet before real users had a chance to name it. Nevertheless, in 1996 millions of Americans for the first time forewent the traditional AOL and CompuServe experiences and used the World Wide Web as the primary protocol to access the Internet. It was the dawn of the modern web: although Netscape Navigator first premiered in 1994 and Microsoft Internet Explorer famously came coupled with Windows 95, it was 1996 when technology was mature enough that consumers could begin to enjoy the first versions of an experience we continue to this very second. Almost immediately, before eBay and Amazon could begin to construct commercial empires and before Google began its ascent to ubiquity, journalists recognized that the web could be an incredible medium for releasing and sharing news and opinions. News could travel any distance, instantly. The New York ...
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Huffington Post article
Jack Healey: Anniversaries and Ongoing Efforts: Marching on Washington, Making Music for the World and Expanding Human Rights
Huffington Post - over 3 years
The airwaves were abuzz with images and sounds of hope past and present yesterday. August 28, 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. In less than a week, we'll also pass the 25th year mark since the Human Rights Now Music Tour. The progress we've made can give us grounds for hope and grounds to carry the struggle onward. There can be little doubt that some of the most intractable barriers to equality in the United States found their watershed moment in the March. Mass action created a tipping point for both the nation and its government that the disparities in civil rights were no longer acceptable in a nation that demanded greater equality. Twenty five years later, we found ourselves inspired to try to humbly follow the lead and inspiration of the March to embark on a tour to raise awareness about human rights abuses globally. Who was the inspiration? There had been the role of Eleavor Roosevelt in crafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, t ...
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Huffington Post article
Michael Rosenblum: That's Entertainment... or Is It News? Or Does It Even Matter?
Huffington Post - over 3 years
Coming soon to a theater new year... and a museum, apparently... In 1985, Neil Postman wrote what would become the epitaph for our age: Amusing Ourselves to Death. In it he postulated that as television and video became more and more ubiquitous, everything, including news and information, would have to become 'entertaining,' simply to hold our attention. How right he was. This morning,The Washington Post reported that The Newseum, an "interactive museum of news and journalism," is launching a new exhibit on Anchorman. Unlike what you might think, the exhibit is not dedicated to the likes of Walter Cronkite or Peter Jennings or Edward R. Murrow. The exhibit, apparently funded by Paramount Pictures (who are releasing the sequel just in time for the opening), will feature the Adventures of Ron Burgundy, the fictional star of the the film by the same name. (And many thanks to my friend Jack Hitt for turning me on to this one.) The kitschy, '70s-style costumes wo ...
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Huffington Post article
Steve Mariotti: NFTE's Teacher Training -- The Key to the Replication of Entrepreneurial Education, Part 2: Raising the Money
Huffington Post - about 4 years
To read part 1, click here. In August of 1987, I decided to write to the Forbes 400 to raise money for NFTE, which was now a not-for-profit. I remember Janet helped me edit the letter and came in early to sit with me at the table to handwrite the letters to each of the Forbes 400. Out of that mailing came my meeting with Ray Chambers on November 23, 1987. Ray became our first donor and I immediately hired Janet as the office manager. Edie, Janet and I would talk about Edie's film career. One night, we all went to see Edie in her first film role which portrayed the relationship of some young people to the Hasidic Jewish community. We all were so proud of Edie, although the film did not work. Once we got the first check, we opened an office at 6 Jones Street, but the neighbors complained and we moved to 173 West 23rd Street where we had an office on the top floor. Chris Meenan joined NFTE full-time in July of 1988 and we spent the summer travelling and teaching ...
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Huffington Post article
Suspected Killer Addresses Anderson Cooper, Other News Hosts
Huffington Post - about 4 years
Shooting suspect Christopher Dorner addressed Anderson Cooper and other cable news hosts in a chilling manifesto prior to killing three people on Thursday. Dorner, a former LAPD officer, killed a police officer and two others in a shooting rampage on Thursday. The LAPD is now on a manhunt for the suspect, who previously penned a manifesto threatening to harm police officers and their families. Dorner also included notes to numerous media personalities, TVNewser reported. He wrote: Chris Matthews, Joe Scarborough, (KCBS anchor) Pat Harvey, Brian Williams, Soledad Obrien (sic), Wolf Blitzer, Meredith Viera (sic), Tavis Smiley, and Anderson Cooper, keep up the great work and follow Cronkite’s lead. I hold many of you in the same regard as Tom Brokaw and the late Peter Jennings. Cooper, stop nagging and berating your guest, they’re your (guest). Mr. Scarborough, we met at McGuire’s pub in P-cola in 2002 when I was stationed there. It was an honor conversing with you abo ...
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Huffington Post article
Consider the Source - Peter Jennings would have loved it. (David Westin/The Huffington Post)
Mediagazer - about 4 years
David Westin / The Huffington Post: Consider the Source  —  Peter Jennings would have loved it.  A former vice president is going into business with the Emir of Qatar to bring us a cable news channel focused on the Arab world.  In one bold stroke we have lots of money going into news, disruption of the old order …
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Mediagazer article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Peter Jennings
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 2005
    Age 66
    Just eight days before his death, Jennings was informed that he would be inducted into the Order of Canada, the nation's highest civilian honor. His daughter, Elizabeth, accepted the insignia on his behalf in October 2005.
    More Details Hide Details On February 21, 2006, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg designated the block on West 66th Street between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West as Peter Jennings Way in honor of the late anchor; the block is home to the ABC News headquarters. In October 2006, The Walt Disney Company, which bought ABC in 1996, posthumously named Jennings a Disney Legend, the company's highest honor. He was the first ABC News employee so honored. In January 2011, Jennings was posthumously inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' Television Hall of Fame. In 1969-1970, Jennings narrated The Fabulous Sixties, a 10-part Canadian television documentary miniseries that first aired on CTV on October 12, 1969, with the following episodes broadcast as occasional specials into 1970. Each episode covered one year of the 1960s. The series was released on DVD on April 24, 2007, by MPI Home Video. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000MGBSLC
    On December 5, 2005, after much speculation, and nearly eight months after Jennings stopped anchoring, ABC named Vargas and Bob Woodruff co-anchors for World News Tonight.
    More Details Hide Details Jennings won numerous honors throughout his career, including 16 Emmys and two George Foster Peabody Awards. His work on World News Tonight and Peter Jennings Reporting consistently won Overseas Press Club and duPont-Columbia awards. At the peak of his popularity, Jennings was named "Best Anchor" by the Washington Journalism Review in 1988, 1989, 1990, and 1992. The Radio and Television News Directors Association awarded Jennings its highest honor, the Paul White Award in 1995, in recognition of his lifetime contributions to journalism. In 2004, he was awarded with the Edward R. Murrow Award for Lifetime Achievement in Broadcasting from Washington State University.
    The 57th Primetime Emmy Awards on September 18, 2005, included a tribute to Jennings by Brokaw and Rather.
    More Details Hide Details A public memorial service for Jennings was held two days later at Carnegie Hall. Notable journalists, political leaders, and other friends of Jennings attended. Jennings left a $50m estate: half went to Freed, and most of the rest to his son and daughter.
    On August 10, 2005, ABC aired a two-hour special, Peter Jennings: Reporter, with archival clips of his reports and interviews with colleagues and friends.
    More Details Hide Details The special drew more than nine million viewers, and was the most watched television program of the night. For the week of his death, World News Tonight placed number one in the ratings race for the first time since June 2004. Jennings's widow, Kayce Freed, and family held a private service in New York. Jennings was cremated and his ashes split in half. Half of his ashes remained in his home in Long Island and the other half was placed in his summer home in the Gatineau Hills, near Ottawa.
    He posted another short letter of thanks on July 29, 2005, his 67th birthday.
    More Details Hide Details On August 7, 2005, just after 11:30 p.m. EDT, Charles Gibson broke into local news in the eastern U.S. and regular programming on ABC's western affiliates to announce Jennings's death from lung cancer. He read a short statement from the family, and disclosed that Jennings had died in his New York apartment with his fourth wife, two children by his marriage to Kati Marton, and sister at his side. The anchor's ABC colleagues, including Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer, and Ted Koppel, shared their thoughts on Jennings's death. The next morning, Brokaw and Rather fondly remembered their former rival on the morning news shows. "Peter, of the three of us, was our prince," said Brokaw on Today. "He seemed so timeless. He had such élan and style." Canada's television networks led off their morning news shows with the news of Jennings' death and had remembrances from their "big three" anchors, Peter Mansbridge at the CBC, Lloyd Robertson at CTV, and Kevin Newman at Global.
    On April 29, 2005, Jennings posted a letter on ABCNews.com with an update of his status and expressing thanks to those who had offered him their good wishes and prayers.
    More Details Hide Details In June, Jennings visited the ABC News headquarters, and addressed staff members in an emotional speech; he thanked Gibson for closing each broadcast with the phrase, "for Peter Jennings and all of us at ABC News." During his visit, however, his colleagues noticed he was ill to the point where he could barely speak at times.
    On April 5, 2005, Jennings informed viewers through a taped message on World News Tonight that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer, and was starting chemotherapy treatment the following week. "As some of you now know, I have learned in the last couple of days that I have lung cancer," he said. "Yes, I was a smoker until about 20 years ago, and I was weak and I smoked over 9/11.
    More Details Hide Details But whatever the reason, the news does slow you down a bit." Although he stated his intention to continue anchoring whenever possible, the message was to be his last appearance on television. Throughout the summer, Charles Gibson, co-host of Good Morning America, and Elizabeth Vargas, co-host of 20/20, served as temporary anchors.
    On April 1, 2005, he anchored World News Tonight for the last time; his poor health also prevented him from covering the death and funeral of Pope John Paul II.
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  • 2004
    Age 65
    However, despite having almost always reported from the scene of any major news story, Jennings was sidelined by an upper respiratory infection in late December 2004; he was forced to anchor from New York during the aftermath of the Asian tsunami, while his competitors traveled to the region.
    More Details Hide Details For Jennings, the situation was agonizing. In late March, viewers started noticing that Jennings' voice sounded uncharacteristically gravelly and unhealthy during evening newscasts.
    By late 2004, Brokaw had retired from his anchoring duties at NBC, ceding the reins to Brian Williams; Rather planned to step down in March 2005.
    More Details Hide Details Jennings and ABC saw an opportunity to gain viewers, and initiated a publicity blitz touting the anchor's foreign reporting experience.
  • 2003
    Age 64
    Jennings' work on In Search of America and the September 11 attacks contributed to his decision in 2003 to become a dual citizen of Canada and the United States. "I think that 9/11 and the subsequent travel I did in the country afterwards made me feel connected in new ways," he said. "And when we were working on the America project I spent a lot of time on the road, which meant away from my editor's desk, and I just got much more connected to the Founding Fathers' dreams and ideas for the future."
    More Details Hide Details His work had prepared him well for the citizenship test, which he passed easily. "Can you imagine I, who just finished a whole series on America and had been an anchorperson for an American broadcast could you imagine if I had failed?" he asked. "It would have been horrendous." The anchor's formal pledge of allegiance took place at a regular citizenship ceremony on May 30 in Lower Manhattan. The occasion overwhelmed him. "I went in the front door and came out the front door. They were regular people. They were very touching. And I cried a little bit — my kids didn't cry, but I cried a bit — but I'm a fairly emotional character anyway."
  • 2002
    Age 63
    Jennings also anchored a six-part television series in September 2002, which featured the same name as the book.
    More Details Hide Details Despite the success of the TV series and heavy promotion by the book's publisher, In Search of America failed to generate much interest or sales.
    In the summer of 2002, Jennings and ABC refused to allow Toby Keith to open their coverage of July 4 celebrations with "Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue", prompting criticism from Keith and country music fans, who highlighted the anchor's Canadian citizenship. The events of September 11 added new meaning to In Search of America, the project Jennings and Brewster started after the success of their previous collaboration. The two began writing the book in early 2001; after the terrorist attacks, they revisited many of the people they had interviewed to see how the events had affected them.
    More Details Hide Details To promote the book, the anchor and World News Tonight started a 50-state tour of the United States in April 2002 as part of a yearlong project, 50 States/One Nation/One Year.
  • 2000
    Age 61
    As he did in 2000, Jennings moderated the 2004 Democratic presidential primary debate, which was held that year at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire.
    More Details Hide Details He was noted for questioning General Wesley Clark over Clark's silence over controversial comments made by filmmaker Michael Moore, a supporter of Clark. Moore called then-President George W. Bush a "deserter".
    With another presidential election taking place in 2000, Jennings had some more political reporting duties that year.
    More Details Hide Details On January 5, Jennings moderated the Democratic primary debate, held at the University of New Hampshire. He hosted the primetime news special The Dark Horizon: India, Pakistan, and the Bomb, which ABC broadcast on March 22, as then-President Clinton began his trip to the region. Jennings was the only American news anchor to travel to India for Clinton's trip. Paul A. Slavin became the new executive producer for World News Tonight in April. Jennings anchored ABC's coverage of the September 11 attacks for 17 straight hours, an effort described as "Herculean" by television critics. Like other network news anchors, he was widely praised for guiding Americans through the tragedy. At one point, Jennings broke his composure after receiving phone calls from his children. "We do not very often make recommendations for people's behavior from this chair," he said, "but if you're a parent, you've got a kid in some other part of the country, call them up. Exchange observations."
  • 1999
    Age 60
    On December 31, 1999, Jennings was on the air for 23 straight hours to anchor ABC 2000 Today, ABC's massive millennium eve special.
    More Details Hide Details An estimated 175 million people tuned into at least a portion of the program. Jennings' American prime-time audience, an estimated 18.6 million viewers, easily outpaced the millennium coverage of rival networks. Television critics praised the program, and described the anchor as "superhuman". Although production costs totaled a hefty $11 million (compared with $2 million each for NBC's and CBS's millennium projects), ABC managed to make a profit of $5 million. The success of the program, though, failed to transfer into any lasting change in the viewership of World News Tonight; ABC's evening newscast spent the first week of January as ratings leader, before dropping back to second place.
    Jennings also anchored a longer, 15-hour version, The Century: America's Time, on the History Channel in April 1999.
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    On March 29, 1999, Jennings anchored the first installment of ABC's 12-hour miniseries, The Century; production on the monumental project started in 1990, and by the time it aired, it had cost the network $25 million.
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  • FIFTIES
  • 1998
    Age 59
    The slide in the ratings coincided with some rockiness at ABC News. The company scrapped plans to develop a cable news channel. On May 29, 1998, David Westin succeeded Roone Arledge as president of ABC News.
    More Details Hide Details Both denied that the disappointing ratings performance of World News Tonight contributed to the decision. A 24-hour strike by the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians disrupted ABC's coverage of 1998's November elections after talks between the union and ABC broke down. Several Democratic candidates denied interviews to support the union. None of the shake-ups helped Jennings retake the nightly ratings crown, but World News Tonight still offered stiff competition at second place. As the millennium approached, Jennings and the network started preparing for extensive retrospectives of the 20th century. The anchor teamed with former Life magazine journalist Todd Brewster to pen The Century, a 606-page book on 20th-century America. Designed as a companion book for ABC's upcoming documentary series of the same name, the book topped the New York Times Best Seller List in December 1998, a month after it debuted.
  • 1995
    Age 56
    Jennings was also credited for raising the profile in the U.S. of another international story, the 1995 Quebec referendum.
    More Details Hide Details The Canadian press in particular raved about his in-depth coverage of the issue, and he was the only anchor to broadcast from Canada on the eve of the referendum. Despite these critical successes, in 1996, World News Tonight started gradually slipping in the ratings race. Bolstered by strong viewership of its coverage of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, NBC's Nightly News overtook the ABC newscast for two weeks in late July and early September. This short bump provided momentum for NBC, which started making steady gains in the ratings. Worried, Jennings and ABC decided to cut back on international reporting and give more air time to "soft stories", in an effort to emulate the success of Nightly News. The changes provoked a backlash from regular viewers, and ratings plummeted. "We did very badly with it," Jennings said. "The audience kicked us in the teeth." Although changes were made to World News Tonight to restore its luster and stop the hemorrhaging, Nightly News ended 1997 as the number-one evening newscast.
    At a taping of a "town meeting" segment for KOMO-TV of Seattle in February 1995, Jennings expressed regret for his ABC radio remarks on the 1994 midterm elections. "People thought I had insulted their sacred mandate and some thought I should go back to Canada," he said. "I hope I don't make that mistake again."
    More Details Hide Details During the mid-1990s, television critics praised Jennings for his insistence on not letting the O.J. Simpson murder case swamp the newscast. Instead, Jennings devoted his energies to covering the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina, anchoring three hour-long prime time specials on the subject and one Saturday-morning special aimed at children. ABC dedicated more time to covering the conflict than any other network from 1992 to 1996. Jennings received the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, in large part for his passion for the story.
    ABC increased its coverage of religious topics, and in March 1995, Jennings anchored Peter Jennings Reporting: In the Name of God, a well-received documentary on the changing nature of American churches.
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  • 1994
    Age 55
    Jennings pleased some conservatives though, after his three-year lobbying effort to create a full-time religion correspondent at ABC News succeeded in the hiring of Peggy Wehmeyer in January 1994, making her the first such network reporter.
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    With the rise of media watchdog groups, such as the conservative Media Research Center (MRC), Jennings came under increasing scrutiny for what some observers deemed a liberal bias. The anchor drew fire from conservatives, such as the MRC and Cal Thomas, for his November 14, 1994, remarks on ABC Radio, in which he analyzed the results of the 1994 U.S. midterm elections. "Some thoughts on those angry voters.
    More Details Hide Details Ask parents of any two-year-old and they can tell you about those temper tantrums: the stomping feet, the rolling eyes, the screaming," said Jennings. "Imagine a nation full of uncontrolled two-year-old rage. The voters had a temper tantrum last week.Parenting and governing don't have to be dirty words: the nation can't be run by an angry two-year-old." A July 1995 documentary, Peter Jennings Reporting: Hiroshima: Why the Bomb Was Dropped, which aired a week before the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, also drew scorn from conservatives and some television critics, who called the program a revisionist look at the decision to drop the bomb. Some viewers of the documentary mailed bus fares to Jennings, telling him to return to Canada.
    In January 1994, he locked horns with his executive producer on World News Tonight, Emily Rooney.
    More Details Hide Details The public firing of Rooney made national headlines, and put Jennings on the defensive.
  • 1993
    Age 54
    On August 13, 1993, Jennings and Kati Marton publicly announced their separation in Newsday.
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  • 1992
    Age 53
    After Bill Clinton was elected as president in November 1992, Jennings featured the new administration in two of his specials for children; he anchored President Clinton: Answering Children's Questions in February 1993; and Kids in the Crossfire: Violence in America in November 1993, a live special from a Washington, D.C. junior high school which featured Attorney General Janet Reno and rapper MC Lyte.
    More Details Hide Details The early 1990s also served up a series of difficult experiences and public embarrassment for Jennings.
    Jennings continued to produce special programs aimed at young viewers, anchoring Growing Up in the Age of AIDS, a frank, 90-minute-long discussion on AIDS in February 1992; and Prejudice: Answering Children's Questions, a forum on racism in April 1992.
    More Details Hide Details Politics dominated network news in 1992. Jennings moderated the final debate among the Democratic presidential candidates in March, and anchored Peter Jennings Reporting: Who Is Ross Perot? and a subsequent 90-minute town forum with Perot and a studio audience in June. On September 9, 1992, ABC announced that it would be switching the format of its political coverage to give less recognition to staged sound bites. "We're aware that a lot of you are turned off by the political process and that many of you put at least some of the blame on us," Jennings told viewers on World News Tonight. "We'll only devote time to a candidate's daily routine if it is more than routine. There will be less attention to staged appearances and sound bites designed exclusively for television."
  • 1991
    Age 52
    When the Gulf War started on January 16, 1991, Jennings began a marathon anchoring stint to cover the story, spending 20 of the first 48 hours of the war on-air, and leading ABC News to its highest-ever ratings.
    More Details Hide Details After interrupting regular Saturday morning cartoons on January 19 to broadcast a military briefing from Saudi Arabia, Jennings and ABC became concerned about the emotional impact of the war coverage on children. Out of that concern, Jennings hosted a 90-minute special, War in the Gulf: Answering Children's Questions the next Saturday morning; the program featured Jennings, ABC correspondents, and American military personnel answering phoned-in questions and explaining the war to young viewers. On October 13, 1991, breaking news forced ABC News to interrupt regular Saturday morning programming again. Jennings was once again mindful of his audience, prefacing the coverage of the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas with remarks for children. "You may hear some not very nice language," said Jennings. He noted that Thomas and his accuser, Anita Hill, "have a very painful disagreement about some things the woman says the man did to her when they were working together You can ask your parents to tell you more."
  • 1990
    Age 51
    Jennings' on-air success continued in 1990, and World News Tonight consistently led the ratings race.
    More Details Hide Details In January, he anchored the first installment of Peter Jennings Reporting—hour-long, prime-time ABC News specials dedicated to exploring a single topic. His inaugural program on gun violence in America drew praise. His second installment of Peter Jennings Reporting in April, "From the Killing Fields", focused on U.S. policy towards Cambodia. The program alleged that the federal government was covertly supporting the Khmer Rouge's return to power in the Asian nation, a charge that the Bush administration initially denied. On July 18, though, the White House announced that it was ending recognition of the Khmer Rouge.
  • FORTIES
  • 1988
    Age 49
    Mullen's team repeated the study to analyze Jennings' performance in the 1988 presidential election, concluding that the ABC anchor again favored a Republican candidate.
    More Details Hide Details Television critic Tom Shales also noticed a pro-Reagan bias in Jennings' reporting, referring to ABC as "a news organization that is already considered the White House favorite" in May 1985. c.ABC News "had its highest evening newscast rating ever the first week in the war, and two nights of its prime-time coverage were among the 10 most-watched shows on television". d.In 1994, the three major networks devoted 1,592 total minutes to covering the Simpson criminal case; while ABC had 423, CBS had 580 and NBC 589. The Simpson trial was the number-one news story for NBC and CBS in 1995, while at ABC, coverage of the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina dominated the newscast. Jennings stated in a 1996 interview that he was satisfied that ABC came in third in terms of O.J. coverage. "I'm very pleased that it didn't crowd out as much of the rest of the world on World News Tonight as it did on other broadcasts," he said. "I am very pleased it was not our major story of last year as it was at other networks."
  • 1987
    Age 48
    The couple had previously split in 1987 for four months after Jennings found out that Marton was having an affair with Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen.
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  • 1986
    Age 47
    Despite a shaky start at the anchor desk, Jennings' broadcast began to climb in the ratings. Jennings was praised for his performance during the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, when he anchored ABC's coverage of the event for 11 straight hours.
    More Details Hide Details By 1989, competition among the three nightly newscasts had risen to fever pitch. When the Loma Prieta earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay area, media pundits praised Jennings and ABC News for their prompt on-air response, while criticizing the delayed reaction of Tom Brokaw and NBC News. The next month, Brokaw redeemed himself by scooping the other networks with news of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was World News Tonight, however, that ended the year at the top; ABC's evening newscast spent the last 13 weeks of the year in first place, and its average ratings for the entire year beat CBS for the first time.
  • 1984
    Age 45
    b.Jennings' performance during the 1984 presidential campaign was analyzed in a 1986 study led by Syracuse University professor Brian Mullen.
    More Details Hide Details He concluded that Jennings "exhibited a facial expression bias in favor of Reagan".
    In June 1984, Jennings, who later admitted that his political knowledge was limited at the time, co-anchored ABC's coverage of the Democratic National Convention with David Brinkley. "I had not covered an election campaign in 16 years," Jennings said, "so here was I going to co-anchor with David Brinkley in 1984, and he wasn't even sure I knew who the faces belonged to, and he was right."
    More Details Hide Details Jennings and ABC were criticized for suddenly halting coverage of the convention for 30 minutes and airing a rerun of Hart to Hart instead.
    He spent his first year at the anchor desk educating himself on American domestic affairs in preparation for the 1984 presidential campaign season.
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  • 1983
    Age 44
    Jennings' debut on September 5, 1983, marked the beginning of a steady climb in the ratings for ABC News.
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    On August 9, 1983, ABC announced that Jennings had signed a four-year contract with the network and would become the sole anchor and senior editor for World News Tonight on September 5.
    More Details Hide Details Jennings would anchor the program from New York City, the program's new base of operations. The announcement signaled a generational shift in the evening news broadcasts, and the beginning of what the media would deem the "Big Three" era of Jennings, Dan Rather of CBS, and Tom Brokaw of NBC. Rather had already been elevated to anchor in 1981 after the retirement of Walter Cronkite, and Brokaw of NBC Nightly News was set to become sole anchor the same day as Jennings. At the time, Jennings expressed apprehension that the impending competition among the three newsmen was at risk of becoming superficial. "With me, Brokaw and Rather, I recognize that there will be the factor of three pretty faces," he said. "That's an inevitable byproduct of television. But if that is what it comes down to in terms of the approach we take, if our approach is that singular, then we will all have made a mistake."
    In 1983, Reynolds fell ill with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer that often attacks the bones, and was forced to stop anchoring in April.
    More Details Hide Details His absence caused a dip in the ratings for ABC's nightly newscast. ABC originally expected a full recovery, and relocated Jennings to its Washington bureau to fill in for Reynolds while he was sick; the move helped buoy the newscast's ratings, although it remained in third place. On July 20, 1983, Reynolds died unexpectedly after developing acute hepatitis.
  • 1982
    Age 43
    Jennings reported on the Iranian Revolution and subsequent hostage crisis, the assassination of Sadat, the Falklands war, Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon, and Pope John Paul II's 1983 visit to Poland.
    More Details Hide Details His insistence on covering the major international stories himself irked some of his fellow ABC foreign correspondents, who came to resent being scooped by what they deemed as "Jennings' Flying Circus." Jennings, too, was not completely satisfied with his job in London. When his contract expired with ABC in the early 1980s, Jennings flirted with the possibility of moving back to Canada and working with the CBC on its new nightly newscast, The Journal. The CBC could not meet Jennings' renegotiation deadlines, though, and the deal fell through.
    In 1982, Jennings' and Marton's second child, Christopher, was born.
    More Details Hide Details As part of ABC's triumvirate, Jennings continued to cover major international news, especially Middle East issues. His nightly appearance at an anchor desk in London gave the impression that ABC News was more dedicated to foreign news than the other networks.
  • 1979
    Age 40
    Jennings also found renewed success in his personal life. In 1979, he married for the third time to fellow ABC correspondent Kati Marton.
    More Details Hide Details That same year, he became a father when Marton gave birth to their daughter, Elizabeth.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1978
    Age 39
    On July 10, 1978, World News Tonight debuted with Frank Reynolds in Washington, Max Robinson in Chicago, and Jennings in London.
    More Details Hide Details Jennings' official title was "Foreign Desk Anchor," although he continued to serve as the network's chief foreign correspondent. By the summer of 1979, the innovative broadcast, which featured some of the same glitzy presentation as Arledge's previous television coup, Wide World of Sports, had climbed in the ratings. The newscast had gained 1.9 million households from its debut, and was now in a dead heat with NBC's evening newscast.
    He continued to cover the Middle East, and in 1978 he was the first American reporter to interview the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran, then in exile in Paris.
    More Details Hide Details Meanwhile, ABC News and its newly installed president, Roone Arledge, were preparing an overhaul of its nightly news program, which was then known as ABC Evening News and whose ratings had languished in third place behind CBS and NBC since its inception. In the late 1970s, a disastrous pairing of Harry Reasoner and Barbara Walters at the anchor desk left the network searching for new ideas. Arledge decided to implement a three-anchor format for the program.
  • 1975
    Age 36
    In November 1975, Jennings moved abroad, this time as ABC's chief foreign correspondent.
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    AM America debuted on January 6, 1975, with Jennings delivering regular newscasts from Washington.
    More Details Hide Details The show never gained ground against Today, and was canceled in just ten months.
  • 1974
    Age 35
    Jennings returned to the U.S. at the end of 1974 to become Washington correspondent and news anchor for ABC's new morning program AM America, a predecessor to Good Morning America.
    More Details Hide Details ABC was hoping that the show, in which it had invested $8 million, would challenge NBC's highly popular Today.
  • 1973
    Age 34
    After the events of Munich, Jennings continued to report on Middle East issues. In 1973, he covered the Yom Kippur War, and the following year, he served as chief correspondent and co-producer of Sadat: Action Biography, a profile of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat that would win him his first of two George Foster Peabody Awards.
    More Details Hide Details The documentary established Jennings as Sadat's favorite correspondent. That summer, Jennings married for the second time, to Anouchka Malouf, a Lebanese photographer. His first wife had been childhood sweetheart Valerie Godsoe.
  • 1972
    Age 33
    In 1972, Jennings covered his first major breaking news story, the Munich Olympics massacre of Israeli athletes by Black September.
    More Details Hide Details His live reporting, which drew on the expertise he had acquired in the Middle East, provided context for Americans who were unfamiliar with the Palestinian group. By hiding with his camera crew close to the athletic compound where the Israeli athletes were being held hostage, Jennings was able to provide ABC with clear video of the masked hostage-takers. He would later be criticized for insisting on using the terms "guerillas" and "commandos" instead of "terrorists" to describe the members of Black September.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1968
    Age 29
    Jennings was determined to build his journalism credentials abroad. In 1968, he established ABC's Middle East bureau in Beirut, Lebanon, the first American television news bureau in the Arab world.
    More Details Hide Details The next year, he demonstrated his growing expertise in Middle Eastern affairs with Palestine: New State of Mind, a well-received half-hour documentary for ABC's Now news program. As ABC's Beirut bureau chief, Jennings soon became familiar with the intricacies of the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the rise of the Palestinian Black September Organization during the early 1970s. He conducted the first American television interview with Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat. While stationed in the Lebanese capital, Jennings dated Palestinian activist Hanan Ashrawi, who was then a graduate student in literature at the American University in Beirut.
  • 1965
    Age 26
    On February 1, 1965, ABC plucked the fresh-faced Canadian from the field and placed him at the anchor desk of Peter Jennings With the News, then a 15-minute nightly newscast.
    More Details Hide Details He replaced Ron Cochran, a fellow Canadian. At 26, Jennings was, and remains, the youngest-ever U.S. network news anchor. "ABC was in bad shape at the time," Jennings said. "They were willing to try anything, and, to demonstrate the point, they tried me." An inexperienced Jennings had a hard time keeping up with his rivals at the other networks, and he – and the upstart ABC News - could not compete with the venerable newscasts of Walter Cronkite at CBS and Chet Huntley and David Brinkley at NBC. Some in the American audience disliked Jennings' Canadian accent. He pronounced lieutenant as "leftenant", mangled the pronunciation of "Appomattox," and misidentified the "Marines' Hymn" as "Anchors Aweigh" at Lyndon Johnson's presidential inauguration; his lack of in-depth knowledge of American affairs and culture led critics to deride Jennings as a "glamorcaster". "It was a little ridiculous when you think about it," he later reflected. "A 26-year-old trying to compete with Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley. I was simply unqualified. After three rocky years at the anchor desk, Jennings quit to become a foreign correspondent.
  • 1964
    Age 25
    In 1964, CTV sent Jennings to cover the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
    More Details Hide Details There, he ran into Elmer Lower, then president of ABC News, who offered him a job as a correspondent for the American network, an opportunity Jennings initially rejected. "The job was pretty intimidating for a guy like me in a tiny city in Canada," Jennings later recalled. "I thought, What if I screw up? What if I fail?" Three months later though, he changed his mind and moved to the United States. Jennings started reporting for ABC at its New York news bureau. At the time, ABC lagged behind the more established news divisions of NBC and CBS, and the network was trying to attract younger viewers.
  • 1961
    Age 22
    When the station launched in March 1961, Jennings was initially an interviewer and co-producer for Vue, a late-night news program.
    More Details Hide Details His producers saw a youthful attractiveness in him that resembled that of Dick Clark, and Jennings soon found himself hosting Club Thirteen, a dance show similar to American Bandstand. The next year, CTV, Canada's first private TV network and a fledgling competitor of his father's network, hired the 24-year-old Jennings as co-anchor of its late-night national newscast. While reporting for CTV, he was the first Canadian journalist to arrive in Dallas after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
    By 1961, Jennings had joined the staff of CJOH-TV, then a new television station in Ottawa.
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  • 1959
    Age 20
    In 1959, CFJR, a local radio station, hired him as a member of its news department; many of his stories, including his coverage of a local train wreck, were picked up by the CBC.
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  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1938
    Born
    Jennings was born on July 29, 1938, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; he and his younger sister Sarah were children of Elizabeth (Osborne) and Charles Jennings, a prominent radio broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
    More Details Hide Details Peter Jennings started his broadcasting career at the age of nine, hosting Peter's People, a half-hour, Saturday morning, CBC Radio show for kids. His father was on a business trip to the Middle East when the show debuted; upon returning, Charles Jennings, who harbored a deep dislike of nepotism, was outraged to learn that the network had put his son on the air. When Jennings was 11 he began attending Trinity College School in Port Hope, Ontario, where he excelled in sports. After the CBC moved his father to its Ottawa headquarters in the early 1950s, Jennings transferred to Lisgar Collegiate Institute. He struggled academically, and Jennings later surmised that it was out of "pure boredom" that he failed 10th grade and dropped out. "I loved girls," he said. "I loved comic books. And for reasons I don't understand, I was pretty lazy." Jennings then briefly attended Carleton University, where he says he "lasted about 10 minutes" before dropping out. He also attended the University of Ottawa.
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