Anchor Norah O’Donnell Closes First ‘CBS Evening News’ Broadcast With Pledge To Edward R. Murrow

Norah O’Donnell ended her first CBS Evening News broadcast as anchor with a promise for the future and a nod to the past. Quoting Edward R. Murrow’s famous “wires and lights in a box” speech, O’Donnell pledged to use the “instrument” of television “well and with integrity.”

In May, O’Donnell, formerly a co-host of CBS This Morning, was chosen by CBS News chief Susan Zirinsky to replace Jeff Glor as anchor of the CBS Evening News in an attempt to boost ratings.

The regime change was not addressed directly on her debut newscast tonight, though the half-hour was loaded with references to CBS News’ legacy of covering the space race and moon mission. (This week marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.)

At sign-off, O’Donnell thanked viewers for watching, then said, “There’s a great legacy here at CBS News of the finest journalists. One of them was Edward R. Murrow.” She then quoted — and at one point fumbled a bit — Murrow’s 1958 address about television.

She quoted Murrow: “This instrument can teach, it can illuminate, yes, it can even inspire” — O’Donnell seemed to say something like and yes and even it can inspire — “but it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends, otherwise it’s nothing but wires and lights in a box. There is a great and perhaps decisive battle to be fought against ignorance, intolerance, and indifference. This weapon of television could be useful.”

Added O’Donnell, “To Mr. Murrow, we will try to use it well and with integrity. From all of us at CBS News, I’m Norah O’Donnell, good night.”

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