For nearly 50 years, Bill Plante, senior CBS News correspondent in the White House, has held politicians accountable

Bill Plante of CBS News honored with Lifetime Achievement Award


William “Bill” Plante, one of the longest-running White House television journalists, died Wednesday of respiratory failure, according to his family. The award-winning CBS correspondent was 84 years old and lived in Washington

Plante retired from CBS News as a senior White House correspondent in 2016 after 52 years in the news department. He made four tours in Vietnam – with award-winning reports on the fall of Saigon and Cambodia – covered the civil rights movement, all presidential elections from 1968 to 2016, and hosted CBS Sunday Night News from 1988 to 1995.

“He was brilliant as a reporter and as a human being,” said 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl, who spent 10 years with the White House. “There was nothing that Bill did not excel in our profession: he was a gifted writer, a first-rate planner, and a major story breaker. He will be remembered for his reports on the White House lawn, his thunderous voice to which presidents have always responded, and his kind heart.

Plante was a CBS News correspondent at the White House for 35 years under Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and served with the State Department under the George HW Bush administration. He was known for his baritone voice to which he asked questions from afar.

Bill Plante in CBS News on April 24, 1989.
Bill Plante in CBS News on April 24, 1989.


During one long episode, when several press conferences were held in the White House, a frustrated Plante shouted at George W. Bush about his lack of availability.

When the president announced the resignation of his advisor Karl Rove in 2007 and began to walk away without asking questions, Plante exclaimed loudly, “If he’s so smart, why have you lost Congress?”

“Our questioning should not depend on what the White House thinks the mood or tone of the event should be,” Plante said at the time of the incident. “And the fact that they say” no questions “or give no time to ask doesn’t really have anything to do with it. They don’t have to answer, but I think we need to preserve and aggressively push through our right to ask questions. ”

When he wasn’t in the White House, Plante usually talked about good wine. He was known as one of Washington’s most seasoned wine lovers, whose amazing collection was considered one of the best in the nation’s capital. Plante soon became known as the sommelier of the White House press corps. He has occasionally reported wine on the CBS Early Show and CBS Sunday Morning.

Plante covered the Vietnam War on four separate tours in 1964, 1967, 1971-1972 and 1975, winning two awards for his work. He was one of four CBS News correspondents to win an Emmy in 1972 for a five-episode series aired on CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite in December 1971. It also won the Overseas Press Club Award for Best Radio Spot. Reporting from Abroad ”as part of the CBS News team covering the fall of Vietnam and Cambodia.

Plante joined CBS News in New York as a reporter / allowance editor in June 1964. He covered the civil rights movement and interviewed Dr. Martin Luther King during his historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in March 1965.

1965: Bill Plante interviewed the ICL in Montgomery in March


Plante was appointed a CBS News correspondent in 1966 and assigned to the Chicago office where he remained for 10 years, covering stories such as the 1966 Chicago riots, the Ohio University campus riots, the 1970 United Auto Workers strike, and the disappearance of Jimmy ‘ego Hoffy in 1975. His three-part investigation into the 1972 US-Soviet wheat deal The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite won him an Emmy.

During this period, he also intensively traveled abroad. He covered the funeral of Egyptian President Gamel Abdel Nasser in 1970 – a story for which he and other correspondents won the Overseas Press Club Award for Spot Radio News. The following year, he reported on a brief war between India and Pakistan over Bangladesh, for which he won another radio award from the Overseas Press Club. He also covered the conflict in Northern Ireland in 1972.

He began his political reporting in 1968, writing on the California Primary, the Republican National Convention, and the Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon presidential campaigns.

Plante joined the CBS News office in Washington in December 1976. He was appointed Senior White House Correspondent in 1986, and in 1988 was assigned to anchor with CBS Sunday Night News, which he served until 1995.

Additional awards include an Emmy for TV coverage of Princess Diana’s d*ath in 1997, the Reagan-Gorbachev Summit in 1986, and the Reagan re-election campaign in 1984.

William Madden Plante was born in Chicago on January 14, 1938. He began his radio career in 1956 on a Chicago area radio, reading news and broadcasting classical music while studying at the local Loyola University. After completing his BA in Humanities in 1959, he got a job as an assistant press director for Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a CBS affiliate, WISN-TV. He did news and weather and also gave articles until 1963 when he was selected for a CBS fellowship at Columbia University in New York, where he chose to study political science for a full year.

Plante died before his first wife Barbara Barnes Plante and son Patrick. It is left behind by 34-year-old wife Robin Smith, an award-winning documentary producer; three brothers, Richard, Jim, and John; sons Michael, Dan, Christopher, Brian and David. He also survived eight grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

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