The legendary CBS News correspondent Bill Plante passed away from respiratory failure Wednesday at the age of 84.
A Washington journalism institution, Plante retired from CBS News in 2016 after a whopping 52 years at the network. He joined CBS News on June 1, 1964 as a New York-based reporter/assignment editor—and would spend the next five decades with the network, traveling to Vietnam on four separate tours (1964, 1967, 1971-’72, 1975) and Iceland, to Moscow and Teheran. He’d cover every presidential campaign from 1968 through 2016, serve as a CBS News White House correspondent for four Presidents—and anchor the CBS Sunday Night News from 1988 to 1995.
In 1965, Plante interviewed Dr. Martin Luther King on the march from Selma.
In 1965, John Lewis helped lead a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama—a turning point in the civil rights movement.
— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) July 21, 2020
“I learned from people like [Mike] Wallace, [Walter] Cronkite, from many others,” he told TVNewser in 2014. “I learned what was expected of good reporters. It isn’t something you can commodify easily, but you watch them work—and you see what their standards are … and you hold yourself to those same standards.”
In its obit, CBSNews.com writes:
When he wasn’t covering the White House, Plante was usually talking about fine wine. He was known as one of Washington’s most knowledgeable wine aficionados, whose prodigious collection was thought to be one of the best in the nation’s capital. Plante soon became known as the White House press corps’ sommelier. He reported on wine occasionally for the “CBS Early Show” and “CBS Sunday Morning.”
“I’m fortunate enough and very proud to have spent 52 plus years in the best news organization in television,” Plante said at his CBS News retirement party. “CBS News is now and has always been the class act of broadcasting. I’ve had a wonderful window, a close up, of the human condition. Telling the stories of civil rights, of the wastes of war, of the politics of power. Through it all, I’ve come to see how human nature is universal. People continue to behave in both altruistic and destructive ways. So that’s why what we do continues to be so important. We continue shining a light in the darkness.
So, here’s to the past, but more importantly, here’s to the future. Keep up the good fight. I’ll be cheering you on, and maybe chiming in from time to time.”
Plante was predeceased by his first wife, Barbara Barnes Plante—and a son, Patrick. He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Robin Smith, the documentary film producer; three brothers, Richard, Jim and John; sons Michael, Dan, Christopher, Brian and David. He is also survived by eight grandchildren and a great grandchild.