John Chancellor

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John William Chancellor (1927-1996) was a broadcast journalist for the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). Chancellor served 40 years at the network, anchoring some of its main news programs including, NBC Nightly News and The Today Show. He also worked as a NBC correspondent in Vienna, London, Brussels, Berlin and Moscow. During his journalism career, he interviewed every president since Henry Truman, every British prime minister since Clement Attlee, and reported from over fifty countries until his death in 1996.[1]

Television career

After working for some time as a reporter at the Chicogo Sun-Times, Chancellor's major television journalism career began when he worked for NBC's Huntley-Brinkley Report. During his job as a correspondent, the Report led television rating's with over 20 million viewers. Impressed by Chancellor's correspondent work, NBC promoted him to the networks morning show, The Today Show, in 1961. He later said about his job at the as anchor of the morning show, "[It] was awful. I found myself introducing musical acts at 7:45 in the morning, and that was, that was just too much for me. I wanted to get back to work."[2] He worked at this job for one year, until he was placed back as a NBC News correspondent.

While covering the 1946 Republican National Convention he was arrested for refusing to cede his spot on the floor to supporters of Barry Goldwater. This arrest happened when Chancellor was reporting to NBC News. While being forced out of the convention by police, he ended his coverage by stating, "I've been promised bail, ladies and gentlemen, by my office. This is John Chancellor, somewhere in custody." Because of the bad press caused by the incident, he resigned from the network.

He then served as director for Voice of America, a job he was assigned to by future president Lyndon Johnson. During his time at the Voice of America, Chancellor covered the Kennedy and Nixon administrations. In 1965, he returned to NBC, and was assigned as the networks White House Correspondent. At this job, Chancellor covered president Lyndon Johnson. He and Johnson had known each other from their previous work at Voice of America, Chancellor stated he, “ quite a good relationship when he was president. I was fascinated by the White House. I loved working there as a reporter.” [3] During his time covering the White House, Chancellor covered the Vietnam War from the prospective of the president.

Chancellor returned to NBC in 1968. In 1970 he became an anchor for the predecessor of the Huntly-Brinkley Report, NBC Nightly News. Although he was an anchor he also worked with commentator David Brinkley, and it was not until 1980 when he became sole anchor of the thirty minute news broadcast. In 1982 he retired from head anchor and was succeeded by co-anchors Roger Mudd and Tom Brokaw.

Although not anchor of Nightly News, Chancellor continued working for the network; giving editorial commentaries on the nightly news show. After moving to New England, Chancellor died of stomach cancer in 1996, at the age of 69.[4] Although Chancellor was known nationally for quality and insightful reporting, much of his work with NBC was overshadowed by Walter Cronkite's work with CBS News.[5] David Brinkley, a well known news commentator, stated that Chancellor was, "On the air he was very relaxed. He always talked as if he were talking to a good friend at the table or at a bar, or whatever. And I think that was one reason he was as successful as he was."[6]


In 1994 Chancellor was narrator for an award wining documentary, Baseball. The over eighteen hour documentary chronicled the history of the sports greatest player and teams.