Bernard Kalb, founding CNN ‘Reliable Sources’ anchor, dies at 100

Bernard Kalb, the long-time journalist and founding anchor of CNN’s “Reliable Sources” program, died on Sunday at his home in North Bethesda, Maryland, his family said. He was 100.

Kalb’s death was caused by complications from a recent fall, his younger brother, Marvin Kalb, told CNN by phone.

According to a CNN biography, Kalb traveled the globe for more than three decades as a correspondent covering world affairs for CBS News, NBC News and The New York Times. Kalb then became the first anchor of CNN’s “Reliable Sources” program from 1992 to 1998.

In a statement, CNN Chairman and CEO Chris Licht hailed Kalb as a pioneering journalist.

“Bernard Kalb was an important figure in journalism, and his pioneering efforts to hold our profession to account are immeasurable. Everyone at CNN is sending our deep sympathies to his wife, children and the whole Kalb family,” Licht said.

“Reliable Sources” aired in various iterations for 30 years until CNN canceled the show last year. The program reported on the business of the media industry as well as its journalistic integrity. Hosts would often examine various media outlets’ coverage decisions and debate journalism with guests.

Former CNN executive vice president of news standards and practices Rick Davis, who launched the “Reliable Sources” program with Kalb, called him a true professional.

“We were so fortunate to have Bernie host Reliable Sources from its launch and during all those years. We learned so much from him as he was a walking, talking history professor of journalism in the second half of the 21st century,” Davis told CNN.

“As he said at the start of every program, ‘welcome to Reliable Sources where we turn a critical lens on the media.’ And he meant it. On the program, Bernie was passionate about holding journalists and news organizations accountable. Bernie was a real pro, a gentleman to all the young staff and he never failed to look just right in his striped dress shirts and orange ties. Our sympathies to his wife, his daughters and his brother Marvin and whole Kalb family.”

Beyond his experience in both print and television journalism, Kalb also had the unique advantage of seeing the world from “the other side of the podium.” He served as assistant secretary of state for public affairs and as a spokesman for the State Department for two years until his resignation in October 1986.

As State Department spokesman, he was with the U.S. delegation when President Reagan held his first summit with Mikhail Gorbachev in Geneva in November 1985. As a television correspondent, he accompanied President Nixon on the opening trip to China in 1972 and traveled with presidents and secretaries of state dating back to Nixon and Kissinger on their diplomatic journeys. He received a B.A. from the City College of New York.

“We are all grateful for the many years we have been able to spend with a truly remarkable human being,” Marvin Kalb told CNN. “A great journalist, and speaking as a kid brother, the greatest older brother any kid brother could ever have.”

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