Bruce Morton Has Died

By Chris Ariens 

brucemortonBruce Morton, former CBS News and CNN correspondent, died at his home in Washington, DC this morning after a battle with cancer. Morton, a Harvard graduate and U.S. Army Veteran, joined ABC News in 1962. He left for CBS News two years later where he would stay for 29 years. For most of that time, Morton was a congressional correspondent, but also anchored the “CBS Morning News” from 1974 to 1977. After leaving CBS in 1993, Morton went to work for CNN as national correspondent. He retired in 2006.

Morton is survived by his son Alec and daughter Sarah, who also worked in TV news. Sarah Morton spent 18 years at CBS News as a producer. Bruce Morton was 83.

More: CNN Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist sent a note to staff about Morton’s passing: “Bruce was an original member of the famed ‘Boys on the Bus,’ and could share campaign trail war stories with his colleagues and our viewers like nobody else.”

More: CBS’s obituary on Morton, also after the jump…

I have sad news to report about a beloved member of the CNN family. Our long-time National Correspondent, Bruce Morton, passed away on Thursday. He was 83.

All of us who worked with Bruce knew him to be a reporter’s reporter; a man who cared deeply about journalism, politics and people. Bruce could tell a story like no other, as he effortlessly weaved facts, emotion and history into every one of his news stories. A story about a Senate race might be full of references to Lyndon Johnson, Richard Russell, or even Daniel Webster. Bruce understood the importance of historical context. Without exception each of his stories was unique and brilliantly written. Simply put, Bruce was a modern day news poet.

Politics was Bruce’s specialty and he keenly understood that the actions of a lawmaker or a candidate could have profound consequences that might ripple across America, across the Globe. He attended virtually every political convention from 1960 through 2004. He was a CBS News correspondent from 1964-1993, and a CNN correspondent from 1993-2006. While at CBS, beyond covering campaigns, he reported on everything from Vietnam to the deaths of MLK and RFK to Watergate. At CNN, Bruce was not only our National Correspondent, but he also delivered a weekly essay “The Last Word” on our Sunday program, “Late Edition”. That essay, in my opinion, was often the most brilliant two minutes on American television each week. He retired with shelves of Emmy Awards, a Polk Award, and a Peabody Award.

Bruce was an original member of the famed “Boys on the Bus,” and could share campaign trail war stories with his colleagues and our viewers like nobody else.

His daughter, Sarah Morton, told me that working and covering politics for CNN was one of Bruce’s great loves.

I have missed Bruce Morton’s voice on our air these last few years. Now I’ll miss his emails and his remarkable blog postings, which he updated often.

A few days ago, he wrote this about the midterm elections:

We have off-year elections this year. That means elections for the Senate–a third of its hundred seats up for six year terms and all of the House’s 435 seats, for two year terms. The District of Columbia won’t vote; we have no representation in the Congress.

In a lot of districts the issues will be local–a bridge, an allegedly crooked pol. It will be harder, I think, for Republicans to make President Obama’s person or policies be issues because he and they have been moderate,

I can remember when public anger was so strong here–during the Vietnam War or the Nixon impeachment–when perfect strangers would yell on the street at those of us who covered the news.

There’s none of that now. It looks like a clean battle for November, followed by the big shootout two years later.

When Bruce retired from CNN in 2006, Wolf Blitzer ended his Situation Room broadcast by saying, “Bruce brings something very special to television journalism, a truly unique voice, smart and wry, with a perspective you could only get by covering politics for five decades.”

“One of our colleagues likes to say that if there were a journalist hall of fame, Bruce Morton would certainly be in it,” Wolf said.

Bruce Morton – rest in peace dear friend. Your words and wisdom will be missed.






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.