Newsers, Family Gather to Toast John Palmer Memoir

By Alissa Krinsky 

Tom Brokaw, Nancy Doyle Palmer, Brian Williams.

Tom Brokaw, Nancy Doyle Palmer, Brian Williams. (photo: Francine Daveta)

Brian Williams, Tom Brokaw, Bryant Gumbel, Andrea Mitchell, and Norah O’Donnell were among guests joining the family of the late NBC newsman John Palmer in Manhattan last night to celebrate his life, as recounted in Palmer’s new memoir, Newscatcher.

Palmer began working on the book several years ago, daughter Molly Palmer Cowan tells TVNewser. The publication comes a year after the former NBC White House correspondent and Today news anchor passed away from pulmonary fibrosis in 2013.

“When it became clear that he wasn’t going to make it through his sudden illness last summer, I brought his book to the hospital,” Palmer Cowan recalls. “I did it in part to help my Dad celebrate all that he accomplished and experienced but if I’m being honest, I mostly did it for selfish reasons. My greatest fear as I watched my father’s life come to an end was having questions for him that he wouldn’t be able to answer or stories I couldn’t remember.”

Newscatcher recounts Palmer’s time covering the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, as well as his reporting in earlier years while based in Chicago, New York, Tel Aviv, Beirut, and Paris.

“As we took turns reading the book to him, he would finish each story himself, often recounting new details,” Palmer Cowan says. “I’m so grateful we got to hear him tell those stories one last time and even more grateful they are documented for us to always enjoy.”

Molly Palmer Cowan and husband Lee Cowan on their wedding day, 2012.

Molly Palmer Cowan and Lee Cowan on their wedding day, 2012.

The book is meaningful for the entire Palmer clan, most of whom are journalists as well, or work in television programing. Palmer met his wife, Nancy Doyle Palmer while both worked at Today. Cowan Palmer is a Los Angeles-based producer for the show, while her sister Hope Palmer is a Washington, DC-based researcher for NBC. Molly’s husband Lee Cowan is a CBS News correspondent.  Her sister Carter Palmer is in in casting, having worked on shows such as NBC’s America’s Got Talent.

“My dad had a front-row seat to history and consequently had incredible personal and professional stories to share,” says Palmer Cowan. “I still have times of very deep sadness, but I think the way we said goodbye to my Dad, with so much love, reflection, and laughter, has carried all of us through the last year.

“He was such an incredible man and father, so most of the time when I think of him, I just feel lucky.”