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Ernest Leiser dead at 81

Ernest Leiser, 81, a veteran CBS News producer and foreign correspondent,
died of an apparent heart attack Nov. 26, in South Nyack, N.Y., where
he had been a longtime resident.

Among his distinctions in a 29-year career, there was covering the Eastern
bloc, helping to direct the Kennedy assassination coverage, guiding the evening
newscast with Walter Cronkite to dominance and hiring Dan Rather.

As a correspondent, Leiser reported primarily from Europe, where he was
jailed by the Communists during the Hungarian revolt in 1956. He escaped with
footage of the revolt and went on to cover unrest in Czechoslovakia, Romania,
East Germany and Bulgaria.

As a news writer and producer, he helped to produce coverage of the
assassination of President Kennedy, then went on to executive producer of CBS
Evening News with Walter Cronkite
, where he helped it to overtake NBC's The
Huntley-Brinkley Report
in the ratings.

In 1967, he was named executive producer of the CBS News Special Reports
documentary unit, where he collected a shelf full of Emmy Awards, including for 1970 Vietnam documentary The World of Charlie Company.

He retired as vice president, deputy director of news, in 1985, and went on
to teach at Columbia University. And he was a senior fellow at the Gannett Center
for Media Studies.

He was born in Philadelphia Feb. 26, 1921, and grew up in Chicago, where he
graduated from the University of Chicago in 1941.

Leiser served in the Army as a correspondent for its newspaper, Stars and
. He entered World War II in 1942 and exited with sergeant's
stripes, a Bronze Star and the French Croix de Guerre. He joined CBS News in
1953 as a correspondent.

He is survived by his wife, Caroline, two daughters and a

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.