Legendary TV News Producer, ‘Chief Innovator’ David Bohrman Dies

By A.J. Katz 

Legendary TV news producer and executive David Bohrman passed away Sunday following complications after hip surgery, his family announced. He was 69 years old.

Over a 30+ year career in national TV news, Bohrman produced election night broadcasts for each of the big three U.S. broadcast networks: ABC, NBC and CBS. However, he’s probably best known for his work at CNN.

Bohrman spent 12 years at CNN (1999-2011), serving as the network’s svp of programming, Washington D.C. bureau chief and later as chief innovation officer over that span. He launched The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer, State of the Union, he launched and oversaw NewsNight With Aaron Brown as well as CNN’s live programming out of New York on September 11, 2001.


Bohrman produced more than a dozen CNN presidential debates from 2003-2008, CNN’s 2008 election night coverage, and was the mastermind behind John King’s “Magic Wall” and those memorable election night holograms.

Back in February 2008, The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi got the story behind the legendary “Magic Wall” (its inventor calls it the Multi-Touch Collaboration Wall), with Bohrman saying at the time that he “spotted The Wall last fall while trawling the aisles of a Texas trade show for government and military-intelligence contractors. A demonstration, he said, ‘stopped me in my tracks. Once you see it, you get it instantly.’”

“David was a CNN institution, a leader and innovator who mentored many though through decades in television news,” a CNN spokesperson said in a statement. “A driving force behind CNN’s election night and special events coverage, pioneering technologies like the Magic Wall and shows like The Situation Room and State of the Union, his impact at CNN lives on in our programming and his passion for news will be felt in our halls every day. The entire CNN family extends sincere condolences to his wife Catherine, children Amber and Harrison, granddaughters Sloan and Paige, and family and friends.”

Bohrman’s 12 years at CNN were followed by three years at Current TV as president. He departed Current in 2014 after the Al Jazeera acquisition.

Before joining CNN, Bohrman called NBC News home for four years (1993-1997). He produced NBC News’ special events, and was one of the founders of MSNBC. Bohrman returned to MSNBC two decades later to serve as a consultant for the network’s campaign coverage in 2016 and 2018. Like with John King during his CNN days, Bohrman worked closely with Steve Kornacki on the NBC News/MSNBC election night “Big Board.”

Bohrman spent the early part of his career at ABC News (1980-1993). He was part of the launch team for Nightline, creator and original executive producer of ABC World News Now (which marked its 30th anniversary in 2022), and produced ABC News special events, including yes, election nights.

Take a time machine to fall 2020: Not only is CBS News without a permanent Washington, D.C., bureau chief, but it has just moved its election night headquarters from the CBS Broadcast Center on West 57th Street to ViacomCBS headquarters in Times Square. This was a team in transition. Susan Zirinsky, CBS News president at that time, was looking for an experienced producer to lead the team on election night, and who better to take the reins on TV news’ most important day than Bohrman?

We caught up with the late producer just days before Election Night 2020 to discuss what viewers should expect from CBS News. Bohrman wanted to discuss the network’s new studio and how it would be utilized, something that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has worked with him.

“[The set] has all the bells and whistles, including dozens of video walls, virtual mapping and augmented reality effects,” Bohrman told TVNewser. “But of course, the real emphasis will be on the news and the reporting. Our entire team—on set and in the field—will be upfront about when we know something and have the data to back it up. It’s equally important we show and tell the audience why we may not know something just yet.”

Zirinsky paid tribute to Bohrman not long ago via Twitter.

On a personal note, Bohrman was a big fan of this particular site and we thank him for his guidance and friendship over the years.

Anyways, here’s the full memo CNN interim leadership sent Sunday evening to network staff:


June 25, 2023



To our CNN colleagues,


We have some sad news to share. David Bohrman, a longtime producer, television news executive, and CNN institution, passed away today. He was 69.


He was the creator of more news programming than almost any other producer working in television news today, having also spent chapters of his career at ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, and serving as President of Current TV. Wherever he went, David was an innovator using the latest technology to enhance storytelling. He was a mentor to many.


David’s legacy is felt in our bureaus and reflected in our programming every day. Serving as Senior Vice President and Washington Bureau Chief, David launched a number of CNN shows like The Situation Room and State of the Union, NewsNight with Aaron Brown, and The Moneyline Newshour. He produced more than a dozen presidential debates for CNN from 2003-2008 and executive produced many election nightsServing as Chief Innovation Officer at CNN, David discovered CNN’s Magic Wall, now a staple of CNN’s election coverage and used by other broadcasters around the world. During coverage of the 2008 presidential conventions, David introduced the first live hologram ever to be used in news coverage. David also executive produced live coverage out of CNN’s New York bureau on September 11, 2001, and executive produced many significant events through the ensuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the first-ever live coverage of the Battle of Umm Qasr.


At ABC, David created the ground-breaking World News Now, which is still on the air more than 30 years after it debuted. David was also a Senior Producer of Nightline, and a part of the original staff of Nightline, first as a field producer, then as Senior Producer. During his tenure at Nightline, he succeeded in getting the first TV signal out of Mt. Everest, among other exceptional work for that program.


David started in television as a producer at KNXT-TV, now KCBS Los Angeles. He was the winner of six Emmy awards with 18 Emmy nominations, along with two Peabody Awards, four duPont awards, and a Polk award. He was the 2014 recipient of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Alumni Award. His impact on television news, at CNN, and around the world will be remembered and live on for many generations to come.


Please join us in extending sincere condolences to David’s family; his wife Catherine, children Amber and Harrison, and his beloved granddaughters, Sloan and Paige. Details about his service and ways to support his family will be shared in the coming days.


Amy, David, Eric, and Virginia