April 3rd, 2009
09:40 PM ET
6 years ago

Former CNN talk show host Tom Braden dead at 92

(CNN) - Tom Braden, the creator and co-host of CNN's "Crossfire," which pioneered the talk-show format that pitted a conservative against a liberal, died Friday at age 92.

Daughter Susan Braden said he died of natural causes at his home in Denver, Colorado.

In 1982, Braden took "Crossfire" to CNN from a local station in Washington and served as the program's host "from the left" until 1989.

"Many people believe that Tom created the genre of political talk shows and debate programs that has now been copied and copied and copied," said Sam Feist, CNN's political director and senior executive producer of political programming. "He was a giant of a man and one of the most decent human beings you'd ever want to meet. CNN was a better place because Tom Braden worked here."

Born in Greene, Iowa, Braden graduated from Dartmouth in the spring of 1940, when the Germans overran France. He volunteered to join the British army, said his good friend and conservative sparring partner Pat Buchanan.

After fighting in the African desert, Braden joined the U.S. Office of Strategic Services when the United States joined the fight, then joined the CIA, Buchanan said.

Braden tried his hand at politics, running for lieutenant governor of California in 1966, when he lost in a Democratic primary.

He and Bobby Kennedy "were real buddies," Buchanan said.

But Braden decided to become a journalist at the suggestion of the poet Robert Frost, Susan Braden said.

In 1975, he wrote the bestselling book, "Eight is Enough," about his eight children, which was made into a television sitcom that starred a crusty political columnist named Tom Bradford.

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