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Veteran US TV News Anchor, David Brinkley, Dies at 82 - 2003-06-12

David Brinkley, one of the most revered of America's television journalists, has died at the age of 82.

For generations of Americans, Mr. Brinkley's name was synonymous with broadcast news. His career in journalism spanned 50 years and paralleled the growth of television as a major news medium. He covered 11 US presidents, from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Bill Clinton.

Mr. Brinkley began as a newspaper reporter. But during World War II, he took a radio news job with the NBC network, and moved to television news in the medium's early days.

In 1956, Mr. Brinkley and reporter Chet Huntley gained national recognition for their coverage of the Democratic and Republican presidential nominating conventions. The duo was so popular that the network named them as a team to co-anchor the nationwide evening news program, The Huntley-Brinkley Report, a pioneering effort in television news.

Mr. Brinkley left NBC in 1981 for competitor ABC, where he was given his own weekly political talk show, This Week with David Brinkley, on Sunday mornings. He hosted the program until 1996, and continued to contribute commentaries for several years. But it was his signoff with Chet Huntley that became David Brinkley's signature. In an interview, Mr. Brinkley said he never cared much for the signoff, thought up by his producer.

"It was his idea and I did not like it. Huntley did not either. He thought it sounded kind of sissified, effeminate, two guys saying good night to each other," he said.

The famous signoff began, "Good night, Chet." "Good night, David. And good night for NBC News."

A survey in the mid-1960's found the two newsmen had greater name recognition in the United States than the Beatles and movie star John Wayne.

Many considered the veteran newsman the premier news person of his time. Mr. Brinkley won every major broadcast news prize, including 10 Emmys. In 1992, he was awarded the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Mr. Brinkley died at his home in Houston, Texas, after complications from a fall.