A Brilliant Journalist and A Founding Mother of NPR

September 19, 2019

 

“We had the right to vote as American citizens. We didn’t have to be granted it by some bunch of guys…” 

 

We lost a brilliant reporter and amazing woman on September 17th, 2019.

I have always admired Cokie Roberts greatly. I thought she was brilliant, funny, crisp, clear, concise, honest. Her smile lit up the world! She was an award winning journalist and among the first female broadcast reporters -along with Nina Totenberg, Linda Wertheimer and Susan Stamberg - to cover the highest levels of U.S. government.  

 

ABC News President James Goldston called Roberts, an award-winning political commentator and author, "a true pioneer for women in journalism.” "Cokie's kindness, generosity, sharp intellect and thoughtful take on the big issues of the day made ABC a better place and all of us better journalists," Goldston said.

 

Her colleague Jonathan Karl, chief White House correspondent for ABC News, called Roberts a “mentor, friend and one of my favorite people in the world.” “Cokie attended 22 national political conventions — that may be a record — I had the privilege of interviewing her on the floor of her last convention,” Karl tweeted. 

 

"Cokie was named one of the 50 greatest women in the history of broadcasting by the American Women in Radio and Television, and the Library of Congress declared her a “Living Legend” in 2008, making her one of the very few Americans ever honored," Goldston said.

 

Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs was born on December 27, 1943 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her nickname of “Cokie”  originates with her brother Tommy, who, as a child, could not pronounce her given name, Corinne. Her mother, Lindy Boggs,  was a longtime Democratic Congresswoman from Louisiana, as was her father, Hale Boggs. He was the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives and a member of the Warren Commission. She was the couple’s third child and eldest daughter. Her sister, Barbara Boggs Sigmund, was the mayor of Princeton, New Jersey, and candidate for the U.S. Senate from New Jersey. Her brother, Tommy Boggs, was a prominent Washington D.C. attorney and lobbyist. Her younger brother, William, died as an infant, and her other two siblings have died as well.  It was no mistake that Cokie became involved in politics.   

 

Although she was the only member of her immediate family not to run for Congress, Roberts considered her role as a journalist and political analyst as her way of giving back. "I do feel strongly that informing the voters about what's going on, trying to explain it in ways that people can understand, and putting the issues out there is a form of participation," Roberts told KET.

 

She attended the Academy of the Sacred Heart, an all girls high school in New Orleans, before graduating from Stone Ridge School, just outside of Washington D.C. in 1960. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from Wellesley College in 1964. 

 

Cokie was married to Steven V. Roberts, a fellow journalist. They had two children, and her daughter, Rebecca Roberts is following in her mother’s footsteps as a journalist and media host. Steve Roberts said in a New York Times interview in 2017 that he was "bowled over" by his wife’s intellect.  The pair got married under an apple tree in the backyard of her family’s home in Bethesda Maryland, and then-President Lyndon B. Johnson and first lady Lady Bird were among the 1,500 guests in attendance. The home stayed in the family, and was Cokie and Steve Roberts’ home at the time of her passing.

 

Cokie was a reporter for CBS News in Athens, Greece and also produced a number of public affairs programs for WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., and president of the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association. In 1988 she went to work for ABC News as a political correspondent for ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings and continued to serve part-time as political commentator at NPR. 

 

In 1992, she served as a senior news analyst and commentator for NPR. She was often heard on Morning Edition and appeared on Mondays to discuss the week in politics. She co-anchored the ABC News’Sunday morning on This Week with Sam Donaldson & Cokie Roberts from 1996 to 2002. During this time she also served as the chief congressional analyst for ABC News.  She was a constant covering politics, Congress and public policy and reporting for World News Tonight and other ABC News affiliate broadcasts. 

 

Roberts won the Edward R. Murrow Award, the Everett McKinley Dirksen Award for coverage of Congress and a 1991 Emmy Award for her contribution to "Who is Ross Perot?" In 2000, Roberts won the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism. She and her mother, Lindy Boggs, won the Foremother Award from the National Center for Health Research in 2013. 

 

She has authored many books, all well worth reading.  I also highly recommend the YouTube interview from March 1, 2017 at the LBJ Library, An Evening With Cokie Roberts.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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