The long-time White House correspondent Bill Plante died on Wednesday the family of his deceased friend confirmed the news with CBS News — the channel where he spent more than 50 years covering presidents’ administrations and Civil rights movements and Vietnam, the Vietnam War and more.
Plante who was sacked at the end of 2016 and was one of the most long-running White House correspondents in history at 84, died from respiratory disease, his family reported.
“60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl stated “He was brilliant, as a reporter and as a human being,” according to CBS News.
“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,” continued Stahl who covered the White House with Plante for more than a decade. “He’ll be remembered for his reports from the White House lawn, his booming voice that presidents always answered and his kind heart.”
In the final three decades of his life, Plante served as a senior White House correspondent for CBS News covering the presidents of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. This was a position that he was serious about, and gained a reputation for his inexplicably clear lines of inquiry at White House press conferences.
“I have no wasted sympathy on any occupant of the White House,” Plante said to The Minneapolis Star Tribune in 1997. “They are out to present themselves in the best possible light, and it’s our job to find out, if we can, what’s actually going on.”
Plante famously made a statement in the days of George W. Bush’s administration provided very little access to journalists The president made headlines in 2007 when President George W. Bush declared the resignation of his adviser Karl Rove and began to go without answering any questions. Plante was heard shouting at Rove “If [Rove is] … so smart, how come you lost Congress?”
“Our asking questions should not be dependent on what the White House thinks the mood or the tone of an event should be,” Plante declared in her remarks after the incident. “And even the fact they do not answer questions’ or refuse to allow time for questions does not have anything to be concerned with the matter. They aren’t required to answer to questions, but I believe we should be able to protect and vigorously assert our right to inquire.”
Planet had such an regular presence at press gatherings that Obama was once able to note an absence that was rare.
“Bill Plante? No? Bill isn’t in the room? It’s quite shocking,” Obama said during a 2009 press conference.
In the years before getting a job as an White House correspondent, Plante was a reporter on the frontlines on some of the most significant historical events of the 20th century.
The year 1964 was the one in which CBS News hired him, Plante started the first of his four trips in Vietnam to report on the conflict there, which earned him a share of an Emmy Award. The next season, CBS dispatched him to Alabama to talk to and march with Martin Luther King Jr. in the marches for voting rights that ran from Selma through Montgomery.
Plante was known to have fun during his time as part of his fellow members of the White House press corps, as well. In covering the then-President Clinton’s trip in New Zealand in 1999, Plante joined White House aides in a jump from a bungee across the Kawarau River. Before the jump, Plante looked into a camera and declared, “This is Bill Plante of CBS News, proving that you’re never too old to do something really stupid.”
In his spare time, Plante was known for being a frequent attendee at his gym, and also a wine lover with one of the best Washington wine collection. Plante was often a wine reporter on CBS’ “Early Show” as well as “CBS Sunday Morning.”
His wife is his only survivor, as are five of his children.