Journalist Cokie Roberts, whose career spanned decades, passed away at 75 years old due to complications from breast cancer, according to her family.
Cokie Roberts, 75, passed away on September 17 after suffering complications from breast cancer, a disease she was first diagnosed with in 2002. The journalist, who spent 36 years as a broadcast journalist at ABC News, and countless more as a Washington, DC reporter, will be “missed beyond measure, both for her contributions and for her love and kindness,” a statement from her family read. “She is survived by friendships and by causes that she put her time, resources and energy into that are too numerous to count.” Here’s what you should know about this remarkable woman and her legacy, following her death:
1. She spent decades as a journalist at NPR and ABC News. Roberts joined an “upstart” NPR as a political correspondent in 1978, and “was one of a handful of pioneering female journalists who helped shape the public broadcaster’s sound and culture at a time when few women held prominent roles in journalism,” the network said. After joining ABC News in 1988, she stayed on as a political commentator part-time for the rest of her life. She co-hosted the ABC News program This Week with Sam Donaldson from 1996 to 2002. She was also a political commentator and chief congressional analyst for the program following her departure as co-anchor.
Political journalist George Will, who worked with Roberts on This Week, told NPR in a statement, “She liked people on both sides of the aisle and had friends on both sides of the aisle. If you don’t like the game of politics, I don’t see how you write about it well. She liked the game of politics and she understood that it was a game.”
2. She won countless awards for her work in journalism. Roberts won three Emmys during her time at ABC News. She was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame, and called one of the 50 greatest women in the history of broadcasting by the American Women in Radio and Television.
3. She revealed that she was experiencing “health issues” in August 2019. Roberts battled breast cancer in 2002, which was successfully treated. It’s unclear when Roberts’ cancer returned, but she did note in an interview over the summer that she was battling an illness. “Over the summer, I have had some health issues which required treatment that caused weight loss. I am doing fine,” she told Axios after an August appearance on This Week. “I very much appreciate the kind comments I have received and expect to be, as I have been, working away in the days and months to come, covering what promises to be a fascinating election. I am grateful to everyone who has been in touch and sent their well wishes. Thanks for caring.”
4. She came from a family full of politicians. Roberts was the daughter of Thomas Hale Boggs, a former Democratic House majority leader and representative of Louisiana. He was also a member of the Warren commission, which investigated the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. When her father died in a plane crash in 1972, Roberts’ mother, Lindy Boggs, was elected to fill his congressional seat; she was later appointed US Ambassador to Vatican City by President Bill Clinton in 1997. Roberts’ sister, Barbara Boggs Sigmund, was the mayor of Princeton, New Jersey, and her brother, Thomas Boggs Jr., was a lobbyist. She was the only member of her family not to run for Congress.
5. She was named a “Living Legend” in 2008. The Library of Congress bestowed a prestigious honor upon the journalist 11 years ago. She brought her mother to the ceremony and praised her for “prodding this nation relentlessly to be a better union.”
Our thoughts are with the Roberts family during this difficult time.