Roger Harrison Mudd, a longtime CBS News political correspondent and Peabody Award-winning journalist who was once seen as a potential heir to Walter Cronkite’s chair at “CBS Evening News,” died at his home in McLean, Va., on Tuesday. He was 93.
His son, Jonathan Mudd, told the Washington Post the cause of death was complications from kidney failure. CBS News President Susan Zirinsky said Mudd was viewed as a “hero” in the CBS News Washington bureau.
“He was a journalist of enormous integrity and character,” Zirinsky said in a statement. “He would not budge if he believed he was right and would not compromise his ethical standards. He was an inspiration to all of us in the bureau. On a personal note – I sat directly across from him in the D.C. newsroom – Roger was big, not just in his physical presence but he was larger than life.”
Mudd spent almost 20 years covering Capitol Hill, political campaigns and corruption scandals. He worked on special reports regarding the Watergate scandal, including the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon in 1974. One of the hallmarks of his career came during a 1979 interview with Ted Kennedy. The Massachusetts senator seemed unprepared for a simple question: “Senator, why do you want to be president?” Kennedy lost the 1980 Democratic nomination to Jimmy Carter.
After losing Walter Cronkite’s seat as the weeknight anchor of the “CBS Evening News” to Dan Rather, Mudd joined the network’s longtime rival, NBC News, in 1980. He co-anchored “NBC Nightly News” with Tom Brokaw for a time, a nod to the post he was considered for at CBS, but was nudged out as NBC News sought to keep Brokaw happy and get better ratings for the broadcast. Mudd did stints on NBC’s “Meet the Press” with Marvin Kalb and two NBC news magazines with Connie Chung. After leaving NBC News in 1987, he became a correspondent for the “MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour” on PBS. His last full-time gig was hosting the History Channel from 1995 to 2004.
“All of us at A+E Networks mourn the loss of Roger Mudd. Roger was our first on-air anchor in the early days of The History Channel,” A+E Networks said in a statement. “We will be forever grateful for his leadership and enormous contributions which helped build The History Channel brand. He had a remarkable, award-winning career in television and we are very proud to be a part of his legacy. Our deepest sympathies are with his family.”
Mudd published a memoir in 2008 called “The Place to Be: Washington, CBS and the Glory Days of Television News.” In 2010, he donated $4 million to his alma mater, Washington and Lee University, to endow a center for ethics that bears his name.
Born in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 9, 1928, Mudd graduated from Wilson High School in 1945 and enlisted in the U.S. Army. He received his undergraduate degree from Washington and Lee University in 1950 and his masters in American history from the University of North Carolina in 1951.