RIP Robert MacNeil

Published: April 12, 2024
Categories: News

ToughPigs is saddened to learn that legendary journalist Robert MacNeil has passed away at the age of 93.

Having started as a correspondent for British network ITV and Reuters, MacNeil made his first big break into American television with NBC News, where he was one of the first to report of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But perhaps he’s best known for his work with PBS, where he hosted Washington Week in Review from 1971-74, serving as a chief reporter during the Watergate hearings. From this, he was able to anchor his own show, The Robert MacNeil Report, beginning in 1975. Shortly thereafter, Jim Lehrer joined him at the anchor desk to form The MacNeil/Lehrer Report. MacNeil left the show in 1995, but the program continues to run, now known as the PBS NewsHour.

Being one of PBS’s stars would naturally bring him to another of their most iconic shows, Sesame Street, where he would make multiple appearances over the years. He first appeared on the show in 1984, interviewing Oscar the Grouch about his burgeoning ice cream stand and his uniquely grouchy flavors. Later in the year, also from his anchor desk, he’d talk with Big Bird and Telly about balloons and the word “abierto.” (Spoiler alert: it’s Spanish for “open.”) He’d also show up in the celebrity-packed songs “Put Down the Duckie” and “Monster in the Mirror.”

But arguably, his funniest moment came in 1988’s Sesame Street, Special when, in a spoof of the then-ongoing Iran-Contra Affair, he entered into a tense interview with Cookie Monster about accusations of inappropriately appropriating cookies from Gordon and Susan’s cookie jar to his tummy, dubbed the “Cookiegate” scandal. In this reporters opinion, the bit stands among one of the funniest things Sesame Street has ever done.

MacNeil would come back to the show one last time in 1998 as he scooped Kermit the Frog on breaking the news that Slimey had landed on the moon. Helping to show kids what reporters do and unafraid to poke a little fun at his own show, Robert MacNeil was always a good sport when he showed up on Sesame Street.

Click here to help us remember Robert MacNeil on the ToughPigs Discord!

by Matthew Soberman –


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