Newman was a longtime correspondent for NBC News. He was a member of the network news team that announced to the nation the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and one of the four horsemen, featured correspondents in NBC's coverage of political conventions and election nights.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Newman often filled in for hosts Hugh Downs and Frank McGee on The Today Show. During the 1970s, he frequently appeared as the substitute anchor on NBC Nightly News, usually on John Chancellor's behalf.
In 1975, Newman became the first person to interview the Japanese Emperor Hirohito.
Newman also served as NBC Newsbreak anchor during the summer of 1980 on David Letterman's short-lived morning show, and often participated in the show's non-news segments. For some years prior to that show, Newman anchored five-minute newscasts at various timeslots on NBC's daytime schedule in the 1960s and 1970s; these were later reduced to one-minute brief updates after 1976. In 1976, Newman was the moderator of the first presidential debate between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, the first such debate in 16 years.
Newman appeared in a dream sequence on The Golden Girls in an episode where Rose (Betty White) dreamt she was going to Russia. On a 1987 episode of Newhart, he played himself as a guest on the talk show of Bob Newhart's character. He also played a TV reporter in the movie The Pelican Brief, based on the novel of the same name by John Grisham.
Newman guest-hosted Saturday Night Live in 1984, and anchored the show's Weekend Update segment on three occasions. His 1984 appearance marked his retirement as a newscaster for NBC and, to the delight of the audience, he sang the song Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone as part of his opening monologue.
Newman hosted an NBC late-night 1:00 a.m. interview program "Speaking Freely" in the early 1980s; one program in 1982 featuring author of 500 books, Isaac Asimov, who defined the U.S. and world's biggest issues during that one interview.
Newman is the author of the book Your Public Best published by Newmarket Press. He also wrote Strictly Speaking and A Civil Tongue, well-regarded and best-selling studies of language and its abuses, and a novel, Sunday Punch.