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Bernard Shaw, CNN’s First Chief Anchor, Dies At 82

NEW YORK (AP) — Bernard Shaw, former CNN anchor and a pioneering Black journalist remembered for his blunt question at a presidential debate and calmly reporting the beginning of the Gulf War in 1991 from Baghdad as it was under attack, has died. He was 82.

He died of pneumonia, unrelated to COVID-19, on Wednesday at a hospital in Washington, according to Tom Johnson, CNN’s former chief executive.

CNN political anchorman Bernard Shaw announces his upcoming retirement from the network on November 10, 2000 in Atlanta, Ga.
CNN political anchorman Bernard Shaw announces his upcoming retirement from the network on November 10, 2000 in Atlanta, Ga.
Erik S. Lesser via Getty Images

A former CBS and ABC newsman, Shaw took a chance and accepted an offer to become CNN’s chief anchor at its launch in 1980. He later reported before a camera hurriedly set up in a newsroom after the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Regan.

He retired at age 61 in 2001.

As moderator of a 1988 presidential debate between George H. W. Bush and Michael Dukakis, he asked the Democrat — a death penalty opponent — whether he would support that penalty for someone found guilty of raping and murdering Dukakis’ wife Kitty.