Tom Brokaw remembers Peter Jennings
July 29 – Aug. 7, 2005
Peter’s illness and death last summer was a profoundly sad time for me, professionally and personally. We met in 1966 when we were in our mid-20s, and stayed in contact ever since. When ABC named him sole anchor of World News Tonight in 1983, my wife and I threw a party for him, just as earlier this year, he and I threw a party for Dan Rather after Dan announced his retirement. There was a real brotherhood and very little jealousy among the three of us, but also, of course, a strong sense of competition. Often, when I was on a plane to some godforsaken place, I was looking over my shoulder to see if they were chasing me, or looking ahead to see if they were already there.
Peter was uniquely stylish, possessing what I think of as anchorman élan. His studio skills were unmatched. He loved being in the middle of a great story: He was born to it, really — his father was a broadcaster. There were times when I’d see him presenting fast-breaking information, providing context, asking the right questions, and my jaw would drop. I just don’t remember seeing anyone who had his combination of abilities. I don’t remember anyone with his verve.
I know that Peter would have been touched by all the tributes, and I think he would have been a bit embarrassed, too. He was a tremendous journalist. Already since his death, stories have broken that have made me think, ”Ah, Peter would have loved getting into that!” (Jennings died of lung cancer in New York City.)