Former CIA employee helped launch 'Crossfire'

Tom Braden, who once worked for the CIA and helped launch CNN’s political debate show “Crossfire,” died April 3 from natural causes in Denver. He was 92.

Braden also was known for writing “Eight is Enough,” a 1975 book about his eight children that inspired a TV show.

Braden’s 1975 book about life with his eight children inspired the namesake TV show “Eight is Enough” that ran on ABC from 1977 to 1981. His daughter, Susan Braden, said her father captured the humor of his bustling household.

“He had a gift for writing about kids. He could relate to them and write about them in a way that I really haven’t seen anybody else do,” Braden said. “He had that gift to write about everyday life that we all know, but we can’t really write about like he could.”

Braden was born in Greene, Iowa. He moved to New York City during the Great Depression and worked for a printer. He later graduated from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, which accepted him even though he didn’t have a high school diploma, his daughter said.

During World War II, Braden served with the British and U.S. armies. He then joined the CIA in 1950 and worked to promote American arts in Europe to counter communism.

Braden left the CIA in 1954 and bought a newspaper in Oceanside, Calif., which he ran for the next decade. His newspaper columns about his family later culminated in his book.

He returned to Washington in the late 1960s and helped create a local radio and TV show called “Confrontation.” Then in 1982, he took the same idea of partisan sparring and created “Crossfire” with Pat Buchanan.

“Crossfire” became a mainstay of CNN’s primetime, but eventually faced competition from networks such as Fox News Channel that introduced similar formats. The show was canceled in 2005. Braden, who served as the liberal host, left the show in 1991.

Braden’s wife, Joan Braden, died in 1999. She enjoyed her own varied career, serving as a State Department officer, public relations executive, magazine writer, television interviewer, and aide to John F. Kennedy and Nelson A. Rockefeller.

One of his sons also died. He is survived by seven children, including Susan, and many grandchildren.

— Associated Press

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