As CBN celebrates Pat Robertson's 80th birthday, we're also celebrating more than 30 years of coverage from the news department he founded. The following is a look back at the history of CBN News.
The roots of CBN News go back to 1976 when Pat Robertson interviewed then-Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter about his personal faith and the role of faith in politics and government.
During the late 1970s and into 1980 CBN had no formal news department. Still, anchor Bob Trotter gave regular news updates on "The 700 Club" and CBN opened an office in Washington, D.C.
In 1981, CBN's news presence became more established with the inauguration of Ronald Reagan as president. That was also the day Iran released the U.S. hostages who had been held by the ruling Iranian mullahs for more than a year.
Just a few weeks later, Americans were stunned by another attempted assassination of a president. Veteran newsman Forrest Boyd reported the story for "The 700 Club."
Establishing a Presence
The News department took on the name "CBN News" in March 1982. Most of the first reporters, producers and editors came from a CBN-owned radio station in Portsmouth, Va., and from the newly formed CBN University, now Regent University.
One of the earliest graduates, Michael Patrick, who is now Dean of Communications at Regent, became one of the first news directors.
CBN News' presence in the Middle East also began in the early 1980s, when CBN manned a television station in southern Lebanon and opened an office in Jerusalem. CBN reporters covered Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983.
Pat Robertson also had high-profile interviews with former prime ministers Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin and with the young, up-and-coming Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Benjamin Netanyahu. There would be many more interviews with Netanyahu over the years, including when he was prime minister.
During the 1980s, the Washington, D.C. bureau expanded, receiving credentials to cover the White House and Capitol Hill. For the first time, CBN News covered the national political conventions in 1984, sending 11 people to cover the Democrats in San Francisco (CNN sent more than 300 people that year) and a few more to cover the Republicans in Dallas for Reagan's second nomination. News reporters cameras and editors have been to all the conventions since then.
In the National Spotlight
By the mid-1980s CBN News was receiving national attention, when reporter Cynthia Glaser (now Newman) was nominated for a News Emmy award and attended the ceremonies in New York. The news department also did landmark work on such stories as the dangers of the artificial sweetener Aspartame and the game Dungeons and Dragons.
The late 1980s and early 1990s would bring the fall of communism in Europe and the collapse of the Soviet Union. CBN news sent reporters and camera crews to cover those events, as well as the re-emergence of anti-Semitism in Russia, which would cause an exodus of more than one million Jews to Israel. Many believe it was part of a fulfillment of biblical prophecy.
Long before September 11, 2001, CBN News had investigated the terrorist plans of radical jihadists and warned of the dangers to come. At the turn of the millennium, CBN also sent reporter Chris Mitchell to re-establish a bureau in Jerusalem, which had been closed for a time in the 1990s. Mitchell and his family arrived in August 2000, just weeks before the Palestinians launched the Second Intifada, producing dozens of suicide bombings and killing hundreds of Israelis.
From Jerusalem, CBN News also covered the evacuation of Jewish residents in the Gaza Strip in August 2005, as well as the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and Israel's incursion into Gaza in 2008-09 to stop terrorist rocket fire.
This year, CBN News begins its fourth decade of covering political newsmakers. Through presidential successions and scandal, and power changes in Congress, CBN News has been in touch with the newsmakers. Reporter David Brody has interviewed dozens of political luminaries: President Obama, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton and the de facto leader of the Tea Party movement, Dick Armey.
A Voice for the Suffering
Beyond the pinnacles of power, CBN News has produced stories about the forgotten, the persecuted and the suffering. International Director Gary Lane and Senior Correspondents George Thomas and Dale Hurd have told stories of Christians persecuted for their faith in places as diverse as Pakistan, Malaysia, Egypt, and Germany.
CBN News reporters and videographers have moved quickly in times of disaster after the Asian Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile. They covered not only the scope of the devastation, but efforts by CBN's Operation Blessing to provide aid and relieve the suffering.
Under the leadership of Rob Allman, who has been news director since 2004, CBN News has also expanded its Internet coverage, adding video programming at CBNNewschannel.com and including blogs by veteran reporters and editors including David Brody, Chris Mitchell, Dale Hurd, and Erick Stakelbeck.
The people of CBN News have spent more than 30 years now interpreting the times and seasons, with more plans to tell the stories in America's cities and neighborhoods, while chronicling events around the world.
CBN News Sr. Editor John Waage was a producer and assistant editor when the CBN News department was founded 1982. He has worked with CBN since 1980.
*Originally published March 23, 2010.