Colleagues Recall the Veteran ABC News Anchor

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NEW YORK ( -- The television news media memorialized one of its own as numerous broadcasts throughout the day remembered veteran ABC anchorman Peter Jennings, who died Sunday after a four-month battle with lung cancer.

ABC closed last night's broadcast of 'ABC News Tonight' with a shot of an empty anchor's chair in honor of Peter Jennings, who died Sunday.
In a statement released yesterday, ABC News President David Westin wrote: “For four decades, Peter has been our colleague, our friend and our leader in so many ways. None of us will be the same without him. ... We will have many opportunities in the coming hours and days to remember Peter for all that he meant to us all. It cannot be overstated or captured in words alone. But for the moment, the finest tribute we can give is to continue to do the work he loved so much and inspired us to do.”

'You look like Tom Brokaw'
Numerous news broadcasts remembered Mr. Jennings last night, recalling what was one of the high points of his career, his incredible stamina in covering the aftermath of Sept. 11. Others retold an oft-repeated joke about a waitress who, recognizing Mr. Jennings in a restaurant, asked, “Does anyone ever tell you, you look like Tom Brokaw?” To which Mr. Jennings replied: “Yes, all the time.”

By far the most poignant moment of the night was ABC’s decision to wind up ABC News Tonight with Peter Jennings with a shot of his empty anchor chair.

In the coming weeks Mr. Westin, together with Anne Sweeney, president of ABC, and Bob Iger, president and chief operating officer of the network's parent, Walt Disney Co., will decide who will replace Mr. Jennings behind the anchor desk. Good Morning America host Charlie Gibson, who has been standing in for Mr. Jennings, is reported to be among the front-runners; senior ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas and White House correspondent Terry Moran have also come up as candidates to replace Mr. Jennings.

'Larry King Live'
CNN devoted an entire hour of Larry King Live last night to Mr. Jennings, a Canadian who became a U.S. citizen last year. The guests were two former evening news anchors, NBC’s Tom Brokaw and CBS’ Dan Rather, along with ABC colleague Barbara Walters. Ms. Walters said Mr. Jennings would be upset if they painted him as a saint, when in reality he was a hard-driving news man.

Mr. Brokaw, who retired from NBC news' anchor desk in December 2004, said: “We were not just competitors and colleagues, we were friends. We had a lot of opportunities to reflect on this in the last year. It was a competitive brotherhood.” Mr. Rather, who stepped down from CBS Evening News in March, said: “Make no mistake, inside that tall, handsome, elegant and eloquent exterior, inside that, beat the heart of a fierce but principled competitor.”

Ms. Walters, who for a moment pondered the increasing importance of the broadcast morning shows over the prime-time news editions, added: “No one could ad lib like Peter. ... You would think that it was all scripted, he was so poetic, but it wasn't.”

Mr. Jennings, who was 67, is survived by his wife, Kayce Freed, two children, Elizabeth and Christopher, and a sister, Sarah Jennings.

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