Throughout his life, David Brinkley enjoyed every opportunity to laugh at himself, even as he was hailed as a towering figure in broadcast news.
Brinkley died today at 82. As colleagues mourn his passing, they remember his impact and his singular charm.
Here are some remembrances, as well as some comments Brinkley made about the news business and his part in it through the years.
Remembrances of Brinkley
"As DiMaggio was the most elegant and spare and graceful ball player of his generation, so too was David Brinkley among broadcast journalists."
— George Will, a longtime panelist on This Week With David Brinkley.
"David Brinkley was a pioneer of broadcast journalism. He was respected for his integrity, admired for his candor and wit, and distinguished by an exceptional career that spanned more than a half century."
— President George W. Bush.
"I heard David Brinkley even before I saw him. And it still seems to me those rhythms actually changed the quality of news reporting, not just the style. Syncopation. Irony. Individuality. Like a great jazz player gives freedom to those who come behind. He saved journalism from terminal earnestness. And convolution.
— ABCNEWS's Diane Sawyer.
"He represented the best of what we try to do in the news business and he did it with humor. David was not someone who hurled thunderbolts at people. He hurled jokes, if you will, about them — not to demean them — but to leaven the situation. Yet he was a serious journalist."
— ABCNEWS's Sam Donaldson, a longtime panelist on This Week With David Brinkley.
"They came at us like an express train."
— Don Hewitt, producer of CBS's 60 Minutes, explaining the impact of The Huntley-Brinkley Report to the Museum of Broadcast Communications.
"A bit of Americana almost as familiar as the Gettysburg Address."
— McCall's magazine on "Goodnight, David … Goodnight, Chet," the famed sign off of The Huntley-Brinkley Report, on the show's 10th anniversary.
"For those of us who were privileged to work with him over his long and outstanding career, we know that he set a shining example for everyone in broadcast journalism."
— ABCNEWS President David Westin.
"What did David bring to the table that was new and distinctive? His delivery, without question. One of the great dilemmas about working with Brinkley over many years was to sit beside him for long periods of time on election night or at a political convention and be absolutely certain that before too long you were not trying to talk like him. It was very distinctive and unmistakable."
— ABCNEWS's Peter Jennings.
Brinkley on Brinkley
"The only way to do news on television is not to be terrified of it.... Of course you have to know what you're doing.... You really have to know, and you have to know you know."
— Brinkley on reporting.
"I was told they had jobs at CBS. I went there and they turned me away, said they didn't have anything. I walked four blocks to NBC, got hired right away and stayed there for 38 years."
— Brinkley on the origins of his TV career. He joined NBC in 1956 and jumped to ABC in 1981, winning 10 Emmy Awards along the way.
"I was at an airport on my way somewhere and a very nice gray-haired lady stopped me and said, 'Aren't you Chet Huntley?' And I said, 'Yes,' partly because it didn't make any difference, and she said, 'Well, I think you are pretty good, but I can't stand that idiot Brinkley."
— Brinkley on his fame.
"I always thought that was silly. I still think it's silly. People imagine it when you say things they don't like. They can't find it in the words you say so they try to find it in something else."
— Brinkley on accusations that he slanted his reports by cocking his eyebrow.
"On this, my last word here on ABC, I quote Shakespeare, who said, 'All's well that ends well.' My time here now ends extremely well. Thank you."
— Brinkley, upon stepping down as host of This Week With David Brinkley in November 1996.