Cokie Roberts
Cokie Roberts (49094906053).jpg
Roberts in 1998
Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs

(1943-12-27)December 27, 1943
DiedSeptember 17, 2019(2019-09-17) (aged 75)
Alma materWellesley College
OccupationJournalist, author
EmployerNPR, ABC, PBS
Known forJournalist, author, pundit, television
TitleContributing Senior News Analyst
ChildrenRebecca Roberts
Lee Roberts
Parent(s)Hale Boggs
Lindy Boggs
RelativesBarbara Boggs Sigmund (sister)
Tommy Boggs (brother)

Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne "Cokie" Roberts (née Boggs;[1] December 27, 1943 – September 17, 2019) was an American journalist and bestselling author.[2] Her career included decades as a political reporter and analyst for National Public Radio and ABC News, with prominent positions on Morning Edition, The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, World News Tonight, and This Week.

Roberts, along with her husband, Steve, wrote a weekly column syndicated by United Media in newspapers around the United States. She served on the boards of several non-profit organizations such as the Kaiser Family Foundation[3] and was appointed by President George W. Bush to his Council on Service and Civic Participation.[4]

Early life and education

Roberts was born on December 27, 1943, in New Orleans, Louisiana. She received the nickname Cokie from her brother, Tommy, who, as a child, could not pronounce her given name, Corinne.[5]

Her parents were Lindy Boggs and Hale Boggs, each of whom served for decades as Democratic members of the House of Representatives from Louisiana; Lindy succeeded Hale after his plane disappeared over Alaska in 1972.[6] Cokie was their third child. Her sister, Barbara, became mayor of Princeton, New Jersey and a candidate for the United States Senate. Her brother, Tommy, became a prominent attorney and lobbyist in Washington, D.C.[7]

She attended the Academy of the Sacred Heart, an all-girls Roman Catholic high school in New Orleans, Louisiana, and then graduated from the Stone Ridge School, an all-girls school outside Washington, D.C., in 1960.[8] She graduated from Wellesley College in 1964, where she received a BA in Political Science.[9]


Roberts' first job in journalism was at WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., where she was host of its weekly public affairs program Meeting of the Minds.[10][11] After moving with Steve to New York City, she found work in 1967 as a reporter for Cowles Communications.[10] She worked briefly as a producer for WNEW-TV before Steve's journalism career relocated them to Los Angeles, where she worked for Altman Productions, then for KNBC-TV as producer of the children's program Serendipity, which won a 1971 Los Angeles Area Emmy Award.[10] She also moved with her husband to Greece, where she was a stringer for CBS News in Athens.[10]

Roberts began working for National Public Radio (NPR) in 1978, where she was the congressional correspondent for more than ten years.[12] Because of her early involvement in the network as a female journalist at a time when women were not often involved in journalism at the highest levels, she has been called one of the "founding mothers of NPR".[13] Roberts was a contributor to the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the evening television news program The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. Her coverage of the Iran-Contra Affair for that program won her the Edward Weintal Prize for Diplomatic Reporting in 1988.[14] From 1981 to 1984, in addition to her work at NPR, she also cohosted The Lawmakers, a weekly public television program on Congress.[15] In 1994, The New York Times credited her, along with NPR's Linda Wertheimer and Nina Totenberg with transforming male-dominated Washington D.C. political journalism.[16]

Roberts went to work for ABC News in 1988 as a political correspondent for ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, continuing to serve part-time as a political commentator at NPR.[12]

While working in Guatemala in 1989, Sister Dianna Ortiz, a Catholic nun from New Mexico, was abducted, raped, and tortured by members of a government-backed death squad, who believed she was a subversive.[17] During a subsequent interview, Roberts contested Ortiz's claim that an American was among her captors. (The United States provided significant military aid to Guatemala at the time.) Roberts implied that Ortiz was lying about the entire episode, although Ortiz later won a lawsuit against a Guatemalan general she accused in the case.[18] It was later revealed that Patton Boggs, the law firm of Roberts' brother Tommy, was paid by the Guatemalan government to promote a more positive image of the regime, which was widely criticized internationally for human rights abuses.[19][20][21]

Starting in 1992, Roberts served as a senior news analyst and commentator for NPR, primarily on the daily news program Morning Edition.[22] Roberts was the co-anchor of the ABC News' Sunday morning broadcast, This Week with Sam Donaldson & Cokie Roberts from 1996 to 2002, while serving as the chief congressional analyst for ABC News.[23] She covered politics, Congress, and public policy, reporting for World News Tonight and other ABC News broadcasts.[24] She continued to serve occasionally as a panelist on This Week. Her final assignment with NPR was a series of segments on Morning Edition titled "Ask Cokie", in which she answered questions submitted by listeners about subjects usually related to U.S. politics.[25]

Awards and honors

Roberts won the Edward R. Murrow Award,[26] the Everett McKinley Dirksen Award for coverage of Congress[27] and a 1991 Emmy Award for her contribution to Who Is Ross Perot?[28] In 2000, she won the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism.[29]

Roberts and her mother, Lindy, won the Foremother Award from the National Center for Health Research in 2013.[30]

Roberts was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame in 2000.[31][32] She was also cited as one of the 50 greatest women in the history of broadcasting by the American Women in Radio and Television.[28]

Roberts was a president of the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association.[11]

Personal life and death

External video
Funeral Mass for Cokie Roberts, September 21, 2019, C-SPAN

Roberts was married to Steve, a professor and fellow journalist, from 1966 until her death. They met in summer 1962, when she was 18 and he was 19.[33] They resided in Bethesda, Maryland.[34] They had two children, a son, Lee and a daughter, Rebecca.

In 2002, Roberts was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. She was successfully treated at the time[35] but died from complications of the disease in Washington, D.C., on September 17, 2019.[23]