Television journalist Roger Mudd, who was once Walter Cronkite’s primary substitute at CBS, died Tuesday at his home in Fairfax County, Virginia, his family said.
Mudd’s son Jonathan told CNN his father died of complications related to kidney failure. He was 93 years old.
Mudd began his television career in the 1950s in Richmond, Virginia, but worked his way up to CBS News as a hard-hitting political reporter. His no-nonsense style was on display as the host of the groundbreaking 1971 documentary “The Selling of the Pentagon,” which unveiled the public relations operations at the US Department of Defense to convince Americans to back military conflicts.
Mudd’s best-known moment was in an interview with then-presidential candidate Edward Kennedy, asking him in 1979, “Why do you want to be president?” Kennedy’s difficulty answering the question is widely seen as an inflection point in his failed campaign.
“He was a journalist of enormous integrity and character. He would not budge if he believed he was right and would not compromise his ethical standards,” said CBS News President Susan Zirinsky, who worked with Mudd in the network’s Washington bureau early in her career.
After CBS passed over Mudd in favor of Dan Rather as the permanent anchor of the CBS Evening News, Mudd went to NBC to co-anchor that network’s nightly program. But the arrangement lasted only a year until Tom Brokaw was made the solo anchor.
Mudd became co-moderator of “Meet the Press” and hosted occasional specials.
He joined the team of PBS’ “MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour” in 1987, then served as the primary anchor of cable’s History Channel. He helped endow the Roger Mudd Center for Ethics at Washington & Lee University, his alma mater.
“Roger loved and collected books, read good, old-fashioned newspapers, front to back, every morning of his life, and watched the evening news as much as he could stand,” his family said in a written statement.