Veteran journalist Cokie Roberts has died from breast cancer. She was 75.
Roberts essentially grew up on Capitol Hill, her New York Times obituary relates, which she drew on throughout her career as a reporter, broadcaster, and congressional analyst:
If Ms. Roberts brought deep knowledge and keen insight to her work, that was in part because she was a child of politicians and first walked the halls of Congress as a young girl. Her father was Hale Boggs, a longtime Democratic representative from Louisiana who in the early 1970s was House majority leader. After he died in a plane crash in 1972, his wife and Ms. Roberts’s mother, Lindy Boggs, was elected to fill his seat. She served until 1991 and later became United States ambassador to the Holy See.
A piece at NPR discussed her important and influential early years at the outlet beginning in 1978, when the station was new; “Roberts was one of NPR’s most recognizable voices and is considered one of a handful of pioneering female journalists — along with Nina Totenberg, Linda Wertheimer and Susan Stamberg — who helped shape the public broadcaster’s sound and culture at a time when few women held prominent roles in journalism.” The piece explained:
Having so many female voices at a national broadcaster was nothing short of revolutionary in the 1970s, NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson recalled in an interview with The Daily Princetonian earlier this year.
“[W]e called them the Founding Mothers of NPR, or sometimes we called them the Fallopian Club,” she said.
Liasson said it wasn’t so much that NPR had a mission for gender equality, but that the network’s pay, which was well below the commercial networks of the day, resulted in “a lot of really great women who were in prominent positions there and who helped other women.”
The Times summed up their impact:
Twenty years ago Washington journalism was pretty much a male game, like football and foreign policy. But along came demure Linda, delicately crashing onto the presidential campaign press bus; then entered bulldozer Nina, with major scoops on Douglas Ginsberg and Anita Hill; and in came tart-tongued Cokie with her savvy Congressional reporting. A new kind of female punditry was born.
She went on to spend three decades at ABC News, won three Emmys, published multiple books, and was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame.