Cokie Roberts, one of what a colleague called “The Founding Mothers of NPR,” as well as a longtime anchor and political correspondent for ABC News, has died of complications from breast cancer. Roberts was 75.
The daughter of Congressman Hale Boggs and his wife, Lindy (who took over his seat after the plane he was traveling in disappeared in Alaska), Roberts was steeped in the rules and traditions of American politics from childhood.
The only member of her immediate family to have never run for public office, she said that her contribution to the public life of this country was to work as a journalist and political analyst. “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 issue out there is a form of participation,” Roberts said in a 2017 interview with Kentucky Education Television.
Roberts’ first job in journalism was at Washington’s WRC-TV, where she hosted “Meeting of Minds,” a public affairs program. She started at NPR in 1977, serving as the network’s congressional correspondent, and remained a part-time political commentator there until her death.
In 1988, she went to ABC News, where she was a political correspondent for “World News Tonight,” and often subbed for Ted Koppel behind the anchor desk at “Nightline.” She co-anchored “This Week,” ABC’s Sunday morning news show, with Sam Donaldson from 1992 to 2002.
Roberts was known for her even-handed approach. “She liked people on both sides of the aisle, and had friends on both sides of the aisle,” George Will told NPR.
However, she was also known for not mincing words. In a 2016 op-ed that she wrote with her husband, Steven Roberts, she made an appeal to “the rational wing” of the Republican Party to stop Donald Trump’s nomination for the presidency.
“She was a trailblazing figure; a role model to young women at a time when the profession was still dominated by men; a constant over forty years of a shifting media landscape and changing world, informing voters about the issues of our time and mentoring young journalists every step of the way,” former President Barack Obama said in a statement.