William “Bill” Plante, who served as a White House correspondent with CBS and worked with the news outlet for more than half a century, died at the age of 84, CBS reported.
The award-winning CBS correspondent, who continued to live in Washington, DC after retiring from the news outlet in 2016, died from respiratory failure on Wednesday, his family said.
The wide-ranging career of Mr Plante began in 1964 and throughout the next five decades he would go on to serve four tours in Vietnam, report on the fall of Saigon and Cambodia, cover all the presidential elections spanning between 1968 to 2016 and would later serves as the anchor of CBS Sunday Night News for seven years starting in 1988.
Colleagues and rivals of the White House correspondent, who covered Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama during his 35 years in the role, commended the mainstay of CBS News as both a “complete gentleman” in his everyday interactions and as one of the best in his field when it came to getting a scoop.
“Bill Plante was a terrific newsman and a complete gentleman, a kind colleague and the Dean of the White House press corps. There was no one like him,” wrote NBC News Chief Washington Correspondent Andrea Mitchell on Twitter on Wednesday night.
“He was brilliant, as a reporter and as a human being,” said 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl, who worked the White House beat with the esteemed journalist for 10 years, CBS reported. “There wasn’t anything Bill didn’t excel at in our profession: he was a gifted writer, a first-class deadline maker and a breaker of major stories. He’ll be remembered for his reports from the White House lawn, his booming voice that presidents always answered and his kind heart from him.”
When he joined the news outlet in 1964, he began as a reporter and assignment editor during which one of his most memorable assignments was covering the civil rights movement and interviewed Dr Martin Luther King during the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in March 1965.
He received awards for his reporting in Southeast Asia, including an Overseas Press Club Award for “Best Radio Spot News Reporting from Abroad” as part of the CBS News team covering the fall of Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as an Emmy Award in 1972 for a five-part series broadcast on the “CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite” in December 1971.
“Brings back great memories of some 25 years working with Bill Plant in the CBS News booth in the White House,” wrote former CBS colleague Mark Knoller in a tweet on Wednesday while sharing a candid photo of the pair hunkered away at a desk burning the midnight oil. “A great reporter, terrific colleague and a class act. None finer.”