Veteran journalist Bernard Shaw died on Wednesday, of pneumonia,
The National Association of Black Journalists recognized Shaw with the Lifetime Achievement Award and upon his death released the following statement: “Stay vigilant! Words Bernard Shaw gave NABJ members when accepting our 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award. An NABJ Hall of Famer, we’re honored to have been inspired by his journalism excellence. We mourn his loss & extend condolences to everyone he impacted.”
Born in Chicago, Illinois, he attended the University of Illinois at Chicago from 1963 to 1968. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps including stints in Hawaii and at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, NC, wherein 1962 he was a “Message Center” specialist as a Corporal, E-4. He had a passionate interest in the print media, clipping articles from newspapers, often traveling at weekends to Washington, DC (“Big W”). He cultivated an acquaintance with Walter Cronkite and had an interest in baseball.
Shaw began his broadcasting career as an anchor and reporter for WNUS in Chicago. He then worked as a reporter for the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company in Chicago, moving later to Washington as the White House correspondent. He worked as a correspondent in the Washington bureau of CBS News from 1971 to 1977. In 1977, he moved to ABC News as a Latin American correspondent and bureau chief before becoming the Capitol Hill Senior Correspondent. He left ABC in 1980 to move to CNN as its Principal Anchor.
Shaw is widely remembered for the question he posed to Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Michael Dukakis at his second Presidential debate with George H. W. Bush during the 1988 election, which Shaw was moderating. Knowing that Dukakis opposed the death penalty, Shaw asked Dukakis if he would support an irrevocable death penalty for a man who hypothetically raped and murdered Dukakis’s wife. Dukakis responded that he would not; some critics felt he framed his response too legalistically and logically and did not address it sufficiently personally. Other critics thought the question inflammatory and unwarranted at a presidential debate.
In 2001, at the age of 60, Bernard Shaw decided to retire from CNN. He now spends time with his wife, Linda, and two children. Shaw says he misses his colleagues, but he does not miss working. He appeared in Robert Wiener’s book Live from Baghdad. He appeared as a character in the 2002 HBO film of the same name where Robert Wisdom portrayed him.
On January 4, 2006, CNN analyst Jack Cafferty relayed an anecdote about Shaw when discussing the role of the media in the Sago Mine disaster. Cafferty said on CNN’s Situation Room that when conversing with Shaw about why he was the only anchor covering the 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan to not report that James Brady was dead, Shaw said that he didn’t go on air with the information because he didn’t have confirmation with “anyone in the room.” According to Cafferty, Shaw did not report the erroneous information, when all the network anchors did.