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Shepard Smith Explains Use of the Word ‘Coward’ During Robin Williams Coverage

The hours-long cable news coverage of the death of Robin Williams last night included some reporting, and much eulogizing. And as often happens during unscripted live TV news coverage, the words used are interpreted in different ways.

Case in point: Shepard Smith. At the end of his hour-long special, the Fox News anchor read a quote from the late actor/comedian about his children. Smith then surmised: “They’re inspiring you and exciting you and they fill you up with the kind of joy you could never have known. But something inside you is so horrible, or you’re such a coward, or whatever the reason, that you decide you have to end it. Robin Williams, at 63, did that today.”

Smith was immediately criticized for using the word “coward.”

“The last thing I would ever suggest about a man I know nothing about personally, is that he’s a coward,” Smith tells TVNewser. “That goes against everything I am. If those words, I used so innocently, offended his family, from the bottom of my heart, I could not be more sorry.”

Nischelle TurnerOver on CNN, entertainment reporter Nischelle Turner got some pushback for using the word “demons” when describing Robin Williams’ mental state. She apologized on air.

“I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from the mental health community in using that word,” Turner said. “A lot of times when we’re doing live coverage we say things and we’re talking and we don’t realize what we’re saying. They’re absolutely correct. That it is a disease, so I apologize for using the word demons.”

ABC News also got some social media pushback for promoting a live feed of aerials of Williams’ home on ABCNews.com.

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Robin Williams Dead at Age 63

RobinWilliamsThe death of Robin Williams has taken over as the lead story on cable news. Williams took his own life this morning at his home near Tiburon, CA in Marin County. He was pronounced dead at 12:02pmPT. The official cause of death is asphyxia. The actor and comedian had been battling severe depression, his representative said in a statement.

The news broke just before 7pmET. CBS News anchor Scott Pelley reported the news at 6:58pmET at the end of “CBS Evening News.” CBS produced special reports at 7:04 and 7:22. Fox News’s Ed Henry, sitting in for Bret Baier, also reported the news at 6:58. CNN reported the story at 7:06. Don Lemon, filling in for Erin Burnett, then went into rolling coverage. MSNBC’s Richard Lui broke in to “Hardball” at 7:16pm.

ABC News’s David Muir anchored a special report at 7:13pm and NBC’s Brian Williams anchored a special at 7:14. All three evening newscasts will update for the leads of their west coast editions at 8:30pmET.

More: Shepard Smith will pre-empt “Hannity” at 10pm for a Fox News special on Robin Williams; ABC’s “Nightline” will devote tonight’s show to Robin Williams, and there will be a special edition of “20/20″ tomorrow night at 10pm, anchored by David Muir.

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Longtime CBS News Political Editor Dotty Lynch Dies

Dotty Lynch AU SOCDotty Lynch, a polling pioneer who served as CBS News political editor from 1985 to 2005, died yesterday after a yearlong battle with cancer. “Dotty was a rare combination of book smart, street smart, and incredibly funny,” deputy Washington bureau chief Ward Sloane wrote in a memo to staff today:

She led us through some remarkable times and elections. I like to think that Dotty was digital before digital was cool – she re-created and formatted The CBS News Campaign Directory in 1992. Those of you who had one will never forget it. It was a pocket sized book that had every phone number of every official any political reporter or producer could want. It was the envy of the road, many reported outright theft by competitors or being begged for a copy.

She also had an eye for talent – that rare ability to see not just what a person could offer today, but also to see what they could become. Here are a few examples of the researchers Dotty hired: FACE THE NATION Executive Producer Mary Hager and FACE THE NATION Senior Producer Rob Hendin, both were also CBS EVENING NEWS White House producers; Steve Chaggaris, who ran political coverage in 2008 and now edits CBSNews.com in Washington and Kia Baskerville, who is a special events producer and talent scout.

Sloane’s full note is after the jump. Read more

Ed Joyce, Former CBS News Pres., Has Died

cbsnews130Ed Joyce, who climbed the ladder at CBS News for nearly three decades, reaching the pinnacle as president of CBS News in 1983, has died.

Joyce’s short, two-year tenure as president of the news division was chronicled in his memoir Prime Times, Bad Times. When the memoir was published in 1988 The New York Times wrote, “The view from within CBS – a la Ed Joyce – is not pretty. What he shows us is hypocrisy, paranoia and ego, and on a corporate level too: ‘an era of junk bonds and debt/equity ratios endangering [the] legacy’ of network news.”

Joyce’s first TV jobs were in Utica and Schenectady, New York. We would move on to CBS Radio in Chicago and, later, New York where he hosted a daily talk show. He moved in to news production and management, first at CBS’s local stations in Chicago and Los Angeles, before returning to New York in 1981 as executive vice-president of CBS News and elevated to president two years later.

Joyce’s son Randall Joyce is a producer for “60 Minutes.”

James Brady, Shot During Reagan Assassination Attempt, Has Died

BradyBriefingRoom

James Brady, the press secretary for Pres. Ronald Reagan, who was shot in the 1981 assassination attempt on the president, has died.

Brady, 73, (above, second from right) was among four people shot that day. He was partially paralyzed in the attempt on Reagan’s life and required the use of a wheelchair for the rest of his life. In the years that followed the shooting, Brady and his wife Sarah Brady became leading crusaders for gun control and would go on to create the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

In 2000, the White House Briefing Room was renamed the “James S. Brady Press Briefing Room” in his honor.

Fox Newsers Remember Colleague

Rick Regan, a longtime Fox News producer, has died. Regan, 60, had been with Fox for more than 8 years and was responsible for production of live breaking news events and news updates in prime time. Before Fox News, Regan spent 13 years at WCBS and CBS News and, before that, he spent 12 years at WABC where he was senior sports producer. Eric Shawn remembered Regan on the air Sunday:


John Seigenthaler, Sr. Dies

seigenthalersJohn Seigenthaler, Sr., the longtime editor of The Tennessean newspaper, and father of Al Jazeera America and former NBC News anchor John Seigenthaler, Jr. died today.

Seigenthaler, Jr. said his father died “peacefully at home,” where he was recovering after a recent medical treatment. Seigenthaler, who was 86, began his journalism career in 1949 as a reporter for The Nashville Tennessean. He worked as a reporter and assistant city editor until 1960, when he went to work for Robert Kennedy who became attorney general in 1961.

“We celebrate his life — his devotion to social justice, his advocacy of human rights, and his enduring loyalty to friends and family,” a statement said.

How CBS News Remembered Maya Angelou

When Maya Angelou died Wednesday, the CBS Evening News memorialized her with her own words.

Producers asked several people from around the country: from Secretory of State John Kerry, to a student from the Chicago School for the Arts; from actor and singer Billy Dee Williams, to a teacher from North Atlanta High School, to recite lines from Angelou’s poem “Caged Bird.” WATCH:

Former CBS News President David Burke Dies

DavidWBurkeFormer CBS News President David W. Burke has died at the age of 78, TVNewser has learned.

Burke served as CBS News chief from 1988-1990, overseeing the network’s coverage of the Tiananmen Square protests, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, and the First Gulf War. He also suspended the late “60 Minutes” commentator Andy Rooney for comments that offended homosexuals.

Before CBS, Burke  served as executive vice president at ABC News, where he helped lift the network to first place in the ratings while also building Peter Jennings into a major figure. At ABC, Burke oversaw the creation of “Nightline” with Ted Koppel and “20/20″ with Barbara Walters. Following his two tumultuous years at CBS News, the Los Angeles Times wrote that Burke, was ”an outsider in the most inside of institutions.”

Burke worked in politics before his time as a broadcast executive, as an aide to Senator Ted Kennedy and New York Governor Hugh Carey. Later in life, he was appointed by President Clinton to serve as the first chairman of Broadcasting Board of Governors, which today hands out an award in Burke’s name.

Peabody-Winning ’60 Minutes’ Producer Adrian ‘Clem’ Taylor has Died

ClemTaylorAdrian “Clem” Taylor, who won a Peabody Award for an uplifting “60 Minutes” story on an improbable orchestra in the heart of the Congo, died today. Taylor, 60, had been battling pancreatic cancer since last May and passed away at a hospital in Newark, NJ.

“Clem was a wonderful man, a great friend to so many of us, and a world-class producer,” said Jeff Fager, “60 Minutes” executive producer and the chairman of CBS News.

Taylor spent nearly twenty years at CBS News, in two different stints. He joined “60 Minutes” in 2010. In the late 1990s he was a senior producer for “The Early Show,” and before that, was a producer in the CBS bureaus in Washington and Dallas. Taylor worked the first decade of the 21st century at ABC News, where he produced for “Primetime Live,” “20/20,” and “What Would You Do?” He also spent two years at Fox News producing “Fox Files,” and also had stints at CNBC, ESPN and NPR.

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