Remembering Peter: Ted Koppel

ABC’s Ted Koppel remembers his close friend: “It’s always difficult when a close friend dies. Peter and I became friends during the Goldwater campaign of 1964; so we knew each other a very long time. What that does, of course, is to create a shared experience that you only have with very few other people. My wife and I have been friends longer. I have a couple of old college friends who fall into that category.

“There is no one left, however, with whom I have lived and experienced the emergence and growth of ABC News, as with Peter. We joined the news division when it was barely a factor among the three networks. We were so young and inexperienced that neither of the other networks would have had us. We grew up as ABC News grew up. How much we didn’t know as young reporters was a secret we shared and worked hard to overcome.

“No one I have ever known overcame initial inexperience as fully and as effectively as Peter. For at least the last twenty years of his life and career, he was the complete package: a smooth and reassuring presence and a great journalist with a wealth of experience, always leavened with compassion.

The ABC News staff on DeSales Street, who traipse each day past a giant picture of Peter Jennings in the lobby, will gather at 3 p.m. today for an informal tribute. It’s the first of many, we imagine. Of course, to a certain extent, every show and every report is a tribute to the man more closely identified with ABC than any other.

Koppel addressed Nightline’s staff this morning during their morning meeting, and shared some of his favorite stories–there’ll be plenty more tonight on a special edition of Nightline and tomorrow night’s two-hour prime-time tribute to Jennings.