Remembering Peter: “It’s Like A Friend Has Died,” And Other Memories

By Brian 

> Tom Farmer, former CNNer and ABCer: “As a former network news producer compelled by his example, I was devastated by Peter’s death. My central memory of 9/11 is of his measured, soothing voice doling out the horror, day into night into day, sparing his audience nothing but simultaneously offering reassurance. I believe his sixty-odd hours of air time that terrible week will be studied for decades for its massive steadying impact on a temporarily unhinged country. Jennings was such a powerful synthesis of authority, grace, curiosity, skepticism, experience, energy and eloquence. I see nobody on the landscape with the resume and instincts to assume his crucial role in our culture. I was fortunate to meet Peter a couple of times in the line of duty. I am old enough to understand fully what we’ve lost here. I grieve not only for him and his family, but for a ‘news industry’ whose deterioration, I believe, will now only accelerate.”

> ABC News EP Katherine O’Hearn posted this on “Peter could set your head spinning with his praise; once after being thrown in to help produce during the breaking coverage of the 1989 invasion of Panama, Peter came rushing over after the broadcast to thank me. He literally lifted me up off the floor by the arms and said, ‘You’re brilliant!’ I felt as though I had won an Oscar, and the memory of that became a brick in my foundation…”

> Dione Foster: “During and after the 9/11 attacks, the only voice I wanted to hear was Peter Jennings’. While coping with feelings of extreme rage, hatred and violation, Peter Jennings was the one person who had a calming affect on me — without making me feel I was wrong for being angry. Thank God, and in true Jennings fashion, he had the dedication and selflessness to broadcast on the attacks for sixty hours. I’m over thirty years Peter’s junior, but he made me understand — at a very young age — how important his poignant, thorough and honest communications were to the strength of America’s heartbeat. Peter, you will be sorely missed.”

> Sandy L.: “I grew up watching Peter Jennings, and I will never forget the exceptional quality of his reporting. He was a friendly face every evening, and I always knew I could count on him to tell me what I needed to know about whatever was going on in the world….I heard Brit Hume speaking about Peter earlier this morning and I have to agree with his sentiment: ‘He was something.'”

> Robin Parker: “Peter’s knowledge, insight and profound respect for what he was doing radiated through the screen. He was riveting to watch…I remember him on election nights. He and George Stephanopolous, et. all were a great team. Cokie Roberts mentioned this morning that 2004 was the first presidential election Peter could ever vote in and how sad it was that it was his last. She recalled how excited he was to do so.”

> Anonymous: “It means something when so many people are so upset about a complete stranger. Someone in work asked me why I cried when I heard the news this morning if I hadn’t even known him. My response was that he was part of all our lives. I’m 25, and I’ve never stopped watching ABC for my news. It’s like a friend has died.”

> Vivian Lake: “I cannot remember when Mr. Jennings was not part of my day. He was the most urbane and literate of any reporter or anchor I’ve ever seen…He not only informed his audience, he taught us. No one reported like he did.”

> FishBowlDC: “With the exceptions of my father and grandfather, there’s no one who more inspired me to pursue journalism than Peter. Larger than life and much like a character in a novel from another era, he epitomized the glory and honor that I saw in this profession…”

> Johnny Dollar’s Place has posted transcripts from FNC, including reflections from Brit Hume and Chris Wallace…