David Brinkley (1920-2003) is a famous broadcast journalist who is most remembered for his work at NBC where he served as a news anchor. Over his journalism career Brinkley covered twenty-two political conventions, eleven presidents; along with three assassinations, four wars, and over two-thousand weeks of news. One of his greatest achievements was his work as co-anchor of, The Huntley-Brinkley Report.
He and his co-anchor, Chet Huntley, received over eight Emmy Awards for the Report, which was the number one watched show during its fifteen-year history. When Huntley left the news show in 1970, Brinkley became sole anchor of NBC Nightly News. He soon became tired of the job and was known to NBC owners as the “grumpy old newsman.” Brinkley left his spot as anchor of the network in 1971, and became a commentator for the NBC Nightly News, which was now anchored by John Chancellor. In 1981, after serving some more time as co-anchor for NBC Nightly News, ABC asked Brinkley to join their network as anchor of, This Week, a Sunday interview news program. He accepted the job and asked conservative, George Will, to join him on his new program, This Week with David Brinkley. To counterweight the conservative commentator, ABC hired a liberal, Sam Donaldson, to join the program. In 2003, Brinkley died at the age of 82 in Houston, Texas.
From the very beginning of his career at NBC Radio and Swayze's Camel News Caravan in the 40’s, Brinkley was admired for his ability to write and communicate news. His former boss at NBC News Reuven Frank, commented on Brinkley’s sense of balance in showing and commenting on the news, he said, "Brinkley writes silence better than anyone else I know." President George W. Bush stated that Brinkley was, "the elder statesman of broadcast journalism."
Over his more than five decades of television work, Brinkley received many awards. One of the most notably awards was the Presidential Medal of Freedom award which was given to him by President Bush, this is the highest award given to civilians. Along with the eight Emmy Awards he received with co-anchor, Chet Huntley, for the half hour, The Huntley-Brinkley Report, Brinkley also received two more of his own. He has also won three George Foster Peabody Awards. Today the David Brinkley Award for Excellence in Communication is handed out by Barry University, its recipients include Tim Russert, Ted Koppel, and Helen Tomas.
- ”Being an anchor is not just a matter of sitting in front of a camera and looking pretty.”
- ”People have the illusion that all over the world, all the time, all kinds of fantastic things are happening. When in fact, over most of the world, most of the time, nothing is happening.”
- ”Washington, D.C. is a city filled with people who believe they are important.”
- A research company found that Brinkley and his co-anchor, Chet Huntley, were more widely recognized then famous stars including James Stewart, Cary Grantand, John Wayne, and the Beatles.
- On The Huntley-Brinkley Report, co-anchor, Chet Huntley and Brinkley would end the newscast by the now well known ending phase, "Good night, David. With the response from Brinkley, “Good night, Chet." They ended this way every night until Huntley’s last newscast, when Huntley's, "Good night, David," brought Brinkley’s response, "...Good bye, Chet."
- He has been informally named by the media world into the "Magnificent Seven" (which includes also Barbara Walters, Sam Donaldson, Peter Jennings, Hugh Downs, Ted Koppel, and Diane Sawyer—all of ABC).
- Before the The Huntley-Brinkley Report, Brinkley worked with Chet Huntley covering the political conventions of 1956.