Famous News Anchor Robert MacNeil Dies At 93

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Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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Legendary PBS anchor Robert MacNeil died Friday at the age of 93, his family confirmed, according to multiple reports.

His daughter said MacNeil died of natural causes at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, according to The Associated Press. He is remembered for his decades-long career in public news broadcasting and for being the co-creator and co-host of “The MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour” along with the late Jim Lehrer in the 1970s on PBS.

He became a household name during his coverage of the Senate Watergate hearings during former President Richard Nixon’s administration. He also began a half-hour broadcast named the “Robert MacNeil Report” on PBS in 1975 with Lehrer, who served as the Washington correspondent, which later became The MacNeil-Lehrer Report.”

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The show was later renamed “The MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour” in 1983 when it became the first hour-long news broadcast in the U.S, according to The Associated Press. The show remains on air today with Geoff Bennett and Amna Nawaz.

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Nawaz mourned the loss of MacNeil in a Friday statement.

“We’ve lost a member of our @NewsHour family, and journalism has lost a giant. My heart is with the family and friends of [Robert] MacNeil, co-founder and longtime co-anchor of the NewsHour. His extraordinary legacy lives on in the work we do today,” Nawaz said.

MacNeil left his show in 1995 to become a full-time writer, according to the outlet. Lehrer, who died in 2020, remained as the show’s host until 2009. (RELATED: Former CBS Anchor Charles Osgood Dies At 91)

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The co-hosts started the show to combat the style and content of ABC, CBS and NBC, according to the outlet.

“We don’t need to SELL the news,” MacNeil told the Chicago Tribune in 1983. “The networks hype the news to make it seem vital, important. What’s missing (in 22 minutes) is context, sometimes balance, and a consideration of questions that are raised by certain events.”

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He hosted a six-night-long PBS series about the challenges facing the U.S. in the post-9/11 era called “America at a Crossroads” in 2007.

MacNeil was born in Montreal in 1931 and graduated from Carleton University in Ottawa in 1955. He eventually moved to London and began a career in journalism at Reuters. He later became a foreign correspondent on NBC’s channel in London.

He was transferred to NBC’s Washington bureau in 1963 where he covered the White House and civil rights, the outlet reported. He covered the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy and the 1964 presidential campaign of his successor, Lyndon Johnson, as well as his Republican opponent Barry Goldwater.

He then became the New York anchor of the first half-hour weekend network broadcast on NBC called “The Scherer-MacNeil Report” and worked on several documentaries, according to the outlet. He later worked at BBC News before joining PBS in 1971.