Bernard Shaw Leaving CNN

NEW YORK (Reuters) — CNN's Bernard Shaw, one of the highest-profile U.S. television news anchors, said today he planned to leave the network on Feb. 28, after 20 years, to write books and spend time with his family.

Shaw, 60, has anchored coverage of news stories including the start of the Gulf War in 1991, reporting live from Baghdad, Iraq; the 1995 bombing of a federal office building in Oklahoma City; and President Clinton's 1998 impeachment and his acquittal by the Senate in 1999.

"I am stepping back from the table to write books, including an autobiography," he said in a statement, which he is expected to read today at the close of the show Inside Politics, which he anchors at 5 p.m. on weekdays.

He also indicated that he wanted to spend more time with his wife and two children.

"Harder than entering this business is leaving it, and leaving CNN, especially after 20 years here," he said. "But, you know, some roses are fragrant. And as a gardener, I want to grow and smell them more, when I'm not writing."

Shaw has been an anchor with CNN, which is now owned by Time Warner Inc., since the network was started in 1980 by media mogul Ted Turner.

Shaw has covered every U.S. presidential campaign since 1988, moderating several debates and anchoring election night coverage.

One of the more enduring scenes in televised politics in recent years was an exchange between Shaw and then-Democratic nominee Gov. Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts in a 1988 presidential debate.

Shaw asked Dukakis, a longtime opponent of the death penalty, if he would support the death penalty for a man who raped and killed Dukakis' wife. Dukakis responded with a cool, methodical answer that seemed at odds with a question that was meant to provoke an emotional answer.

The exchange was widely believed to have been one of the turning points in that election, which was ultimately won by George Bush.

Shaw received numerous awards throughout his career, including an Emmy in 1996 for his coverage of the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people.

Prior to joining CNN in 1980, Shaw was senior Capitol Hill correspondent with ABC News. From 1971-77, he was a Washington, D.C., correspondent with CBS News.