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Roger Mudd (born February 9, 1928) is a U.S. television journalist and broadcaster, most recently as the primary anchor for The History Channel. Previously, Mudd was weekend and weekday substitute anchor of CBS Evening News, co-anchor of the weekday NBC Nightly News, and hosted NBC's Meet the Press, and NBC's American Almanac television newsmagazine. Mudd is the recipient of the Peabody Award, the Joan Shorenstein Award for Distinguished Washington Reporting, and five Emmy Awards.


Early life and career

Mudd was born in Washington, D.C.[1] His father, John Kostka Dominic Mudd, was the son of a tobacco farmer and worked as a map maker for the United States Geological Survey, and his mother, Irma Iris Harrison, was the daughter of a wheat farmer and worked as a lieutenant for the Army Nursing Corps and a nurse at the physiotherapy ward in the Walter Reed Hospital, where she met Roger's father.[2] Roger Mudd received a B.A. from Washington and Lee University in 1950 and a Master's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1953.[3]

He began his journalism career in Richmond, Virginia as a reporter for the The Richmond News Leader and for radio station WRNL. At the News Leader, he worked at the rewrite desk during spring 1953 and became a summer replacement on June 15 that year.[4] The News Leader ran its first story with a Mudd byline on June 19, 1953.[5] At WRNL, Mudd did the daily noon newscast. In his memoir The Place to Be, Mudd describes an incident from his first day at WRNL in which he laughed hysterically on-air after mangling a news item about the declining health of Pope Pius XII. Because Mudd failed to silence his microphone properly, an engineer intervened.[6] WRNL later gave Mudd his own daily broadcast, Virginia Headlines.[7] In the fall of 1954, Mudd enrolled in the University of Richmond School of Law but dropped out after a semester.[8]


In the late 1950s, Mudd moved to Washington, DC to become a reporter with WTOP News, the news division of the radio and television stations owned by Post-Newsweek. Although WTOP News was a local news department, it covered many national stories. At first Mudd did the 6 a.m. newscast for WTOP and did local news segments on the local TV program Potomac Panorama. In the fall of 1956, Mudd hosted the first newscast he wrote independently, WTOP's 6 p.m. newscast that included a weekly commentary piece, all without "the constraints of the wire service vocabulary".[9] Mudd produced a half-hour TV documentary in summer 1957 advocating the need for a third airport in the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area. In September that year, Mudd conducted his first live TV studio interview. The interview was with Dorothy Counts, a black teenage girl who suffered racial harassment at her all-white high school in Charlotte, North Carolina.[10] WTOP replaced Don Richards with Mudd for its 11 p.m. newscast in March 1959.[11]

CBS News

CBS News was located on the third floor of WTOP's studios at 40th and Brandywine in NW Washington. Mudd quickly came to the attention of CBS News and moved "downstairs" to join the Washington bureau on May 31, 1961.[12] For most of his career at CBS, Mudd was a Congressional correspondent. He also was anchor of the Saturday edition of the Evening News and frequently substituted on the weeknight broadcasts when anchor Walter Cronkite was on vacation or working on special assignments. During the Civil Rights Movement, Mudd anchored coverage of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom for CBS.[13] On November 13, 1963, CBS broadcast documentary Case History of a Rumor, in which Mudd interviewed Rep. James Utt (Republican of Santa Ana, California) about a rumor Utt spread that Africans were working with the United Nations to take over the U.S.[14] Utt sued CBS in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York for libel, but the court dismissed the case.[15]

Mudd also covered numerous political campaigns. He was paired with co-anchor Robert Trout in the 1964 political convention anchor booth, temporarily displacing Walter Cronkite, in an unsuccessful attempt to match the popular NBC Huntley–Brinkley anchor team. He covered the 1968 Presidential campaign of Senator Robert F. Kennedy and was in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles when Kennedy was shot on June 5, 1968.

Mudd hosted the seminal documentary The Selling of the Pentagon in 1971. He was a candidate to succeed Walter Cronkite as anchor of the CBS Evening News.[citation needed] Despite substantial support for Mudd within the ranks of CBS News, network management gave the position to Dan Rather after the longtime White House and 60 Minutes correspondent threatened to leave the network and sign a contract with ABC News.[citation needed]


Ted Kennedy interview

Mudd is perhaps best remembered for an interview he conducted with Senator Edward M. Kennedy for a November 4, 1979 CBS special, Teddy, which aired three days before Kennedy officially announced his challenge of President Jimmy Carter for the 1980 Democratic Presidential nomination. In addition to questioning Kennedy about the Chappaquiddick incident, Mudd asked, "Senator, why do you want to be president?" Kennedy's stammering answer which has been described as "incoherent and repetitive"[16] as well as "vague, unprepared"[17] raised serious questions about his motivation in seeking the office, and marked the beginning of the sharp decline in Kennedy's impressive poll numbers.[16] Carter defeated Kennedy 50% to 38% in the Democratic primary vote. Although the Kennedy family refused any further interviews with Mudd, the interview helped strengthen Mudd's reputation as a leading political reporter.[citation needed] Broadcaster and blogger Hugh Hewitt and Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson have used the term "Roger Mudd moment" to describe a self-inflicted disastrous encounter with the press by a presidential candidate.[17]

NBC News

In 1980, after being turned down in favor of Dan Rather to succeed Cronkite as weeknight anchor of the CBS Evening News, Mudd chose to leave CBS News and accepted an offer to join NBC News. He co-anchored NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw from 1982 until September 1983, when Brokaw took over as sole anchor. From 1984 to 1985, he was co-anchor of NBC's Meet the Press with Marvin Kalb, and later served as co-anchor with Connie Chung of an NBC news magazine, American Almanac. From 1987 to 1992, he was an essayist and political correspondent with the MacNeil–Lehrer Newshour on PBS. He was a visiting professor at Princeton University and Washington and Lee University from 1992 to 1996. Mudd was also a primary anchor for over ten years with The History Channel, where many of his programs are often repeated in reruns. He retired from full-time broadcasting in 2004, yet remains involved with documentaries for The History Channel.

Mudd's memoir, The Place to Be: Washington, CBS, and the Glory Days of Television News, was released on March 24, 2008.


Mudd has three sons and a daughter, including Daniel, CEO of Fortress Investment Group LLC and former CEO of Fannie Mae. [18] Roger Mudd is also indirectly related to Samuel Mudd, the doctor who was imprisoned for aiding and conspiring with John Wilkes Booth after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.[19]


Mudd, Roger (2008), The Place to Be: Washington, CBS, and the Glory Days of Television News, New York, New York, U.S.: PublicAffairs, ISBN 9781586485764, 


  1. ^ Mudd 2008, p. 19
  2. ^ Mudd 2008, p. 20
  3. ^ "Bio". 2008. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  4. ^ Mudd 2008, pp. 5–6
  5. ^ Mudd 2008, p. 8
  6. ^ Mudd 2008, pp. 11–12
  7. ^ Mudd 2008, p. 14
  8. ^ Mudd 2008, p. 16
  9. ^ Mudd 2008, pp. 20–21
  10. ^ Mudd 2008, p. 21
  11. ^ Mudd 2008, p. 23
  12. ^ Mudd 2008, pp. 30–32
  13. ^ Mudd 2008, pp. 116–117
  14. ^ Mudd 2008, p. 122–124
  15. ^ Mudd 2008, pp. 124–125
  16. ^ a b Allis, Sam (2009-02-18). "Chapter 4: Sailing Into the Wind: Losing a quest for the top, finding a new freedom". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-03-10. 
  17. ^ a b Gerson, Michael (2008-06-20). "A False Moderate?". The Washington Post: p. A19. 
  18. ^ Government may soon back troubled mortgage giants
  19. ^ Goldstein, Richard (2002-05-25). "Dr. Richard Mudd, 101, Dies; Grandfather Treated Booth". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-23. 

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