Bruce Morton, Award-Winning Former CBS News Political Correspondent, Dies at 83

Sep 5, 2014  •  Post A Comment

Press release from CBS News, Sept. 5, 2014:

Bruce Morton, an award-winning political correspondent for CBS News who also covered the Vietnam War and the space program, died today (5) at his home in Washington, D.C., after a battle with cancer. He was 83.

Morton spent most of a distinguished six-decade career on television and radio for CBS News, where he made a record 146 appearances on television in 1988 alone. He left CBS in 1993 after 29 years to join CNN; he retired from that organization in 2006.

As a member of the powerhouse CBS News Washington Bureau in the 1970s, he covered some of the biggest political news stories of his era, winning an Emmy with his team for the CBS News Special Report “Watergate: The White House Transcripts” in 1977.   He won a total of six Emmys for his CBS News work, one of which was for his coverage of the 1971 court martial of Lt. William Calley, who was on trial for the infamous Vietnam War My Lai Massacre.

Morton rose to co-anchor of the “CBS Morning News” in 1975, a promotion based on his erudite reporting and especially, his writing talents. Former CBS Newsman Roger Mudd wrote glowingly of Morton’s writing prowess in his 2008 book, “The Place to Be: Washington, CBS, and the Glory of Television News.”   The Peabody Awards committee recognized this talent in 1976, when it presented him and another CBS Newsman, Hughes Rudd, with a Peabody Award for their roles as co-anchors. The citation states, “Hughes Rudd and Bruce Morton are two Americans who make getting up every morning worthwhile. Their incisive writing, their choice of both the significant and the insignificant to report, and their ability to see something bright—and, yes, even humorous—amongst the heavy-handedness of most of the day’s news make a bright spot on the American television morning scene. Any American who tunes in to the “CBS Morning News” is assured not only of being kept well-informed, but he—or she—is assured of being lifted, even though perhaps slightly, by the marvelous efforts and witty humor of these two word craftsmen.”

Morton also contributed to the CBS News Polk Award-winning coverage of the unrest in China’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Over the years, Morton was a key figure on the CBS News convention and election night teams. As chief political reporter, he provided analysis and evaluation of results, often for the congressional races. He also covered the presidential campaigns of Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey.

In the presidential election year of 1988, his 146 appearances on CBS News television programs were the most for any television news personality that year.

Morton was the CBS reporter who covered the House Judiciary Committee hearings on the Nixon impeachment, Congressional hearings on the confirmations of Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and Supreme Court Justices Powell and Rehnquist.   His space program coverage spanned the entire 1960s Gemini launches up through the end of the Apollo program in 1971.   He covered the urban unrest of the period as well, reporting from Watts, Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago and Washington riots.   He contributed to CBS News reports on the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In September 1966, Morton was posted to the CBS News Saigon Bureau for a six-month assignment, where he covered the Vietnam War until March of the following year.

Morton joined CBS News as a reporter in the Washington Bureau in 1964 and was elevated to correspondent in 1966. Before that, he had reported for nearly 10 years from the nation’s capital and from abroad for other news organizations. He reported on conflicts in Africa for ABC News (1962-’64). He was a London and Washington correspondent for News Associated and Radio Press before that.

In the late 1950s, Morton was a reporter and editor for the local NBC-owned station in Pittsburgh, a role he assumed after serving as a general assistant for the New York NBC-owned station.   He got his start in the news business while still a student at Harvard in Boston, where he wrote and read radio newscasts for WORL.

Morton served in the U.S. Army from 1952 to 1955.

Bruce Alexander Morton was born on Oct. 28, 1930, in Norwalk, CT, and grew up in Chicago, where he attended local schools. He received his B.A. degree from Harvard College in 1952.

He is survived by a daughter, Sarah Morton, and a son, Alec, both of New York City. The family is planning to announce a future memorial service to be held in Washington, where Morton lived since 1964.

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