John Palmer, a steady and reliable anchor presence at NBC News for nearly half a century, has died, NBC has confirmed. He was 77. The network also released a statement saying,
“John was a brilliant, brave, and tireless journalist who guided viewers through many of the most significant events of the past half-century – from the early days of the civil rights movement through the tragedy of 9/11. He covered five presidents and traveled to every corner of the world, always showing the empathy and compassion that helped set him apart. His kindness is remembered by all of us, and it built lasting bonds throughout our news division. “John held many positions over the course of his long career with NBC News, but his most treasured role was that of husband and father. Our love and support are with Nancy, Molly and Lee, Carter, Hope, and the entire Palmer family.”
"Today" viewers will perhaps best recall Palmer as the network's news anchor over a number of years that were very nearly impregnable for the morning program, though he was moved aside for the anchor who would eventually replace Jane Pauley -- Deborah Norville. That caused considerable consternation at the program where Palmer was very well-liked (by viewers and colleagues) and didn't bode particularly well for Norville's tenure as co-anchor, which turned out to be brief. He left NBC for Christian Science Monitor television but returned in 1994 as a correspondent in Washington -- familiar terrain for Palmer.
Here are more details from the NBC obit, and check out the interesting clip from MSNBC from the day he retired; it's a bit grainy but has some interesting background on this well-regarded NBC News veteran.
Palmer's career with the network lasted four decades, from 1962 to 1990 and again from 1994 until his retirement in 2002. Palmer had a number of high-profile assignments over the years. He was news anchor for "Today" from 1982 to 1989. He also covered the White House, served as a national correspondent in Washington until his retirement, covering the aborted rescue attempt of American hostages in Iran and anchored the first hours of NBC's coverage of the 1986 Challenger space disaster. Palmer was a native of Kingsport, Tenn., and held degrees from Northwestern and Columbia universities.