Remembering the Life and Legacy of Cokie Roberts

“Times do keep changing – thank God” Cokie Roberts in her own words.

After hearing the news of her passing on September 17, the journalism community came together to remember the life of veteran journalist Cokie Roberts. An award-winning reporter, Roberts was known for her many contributions to the news media, including as a political commentator for NPR and ABC News, as well as a New York Times best-selling author.

Those who knew her, and those who loved her, remembered Roberts’ life and her storied career via social media. There were messages from people young and old, students, friends and colleagues who expressed their grief at her passing.

CNN’s Jake Tapper called her “smart and pithy and tough as nails” and said “there wasn’t anyone else like her,” while Sam Donaldson, another veteran journalist and Roberts’ co-anchor on ABC’s This Week, remembered her as a “force of nature.” In a tribute on CBS News, anchor Reena Ninan recalled how Roberts had mentored her throughout her career, and called her “generous” and “humble.”

“I wanted to be Cokie Roberts,” Ninan said. “This week I realized, I wasn’t the only woman.”

Nina Totenberg, a legal affairs correspondent at NPR and long-time friend and colleague of Roberts’, wrote that she was “the embodiment of our better angels.”

“The country knew her as this always polite political reporter, willing to ask the impolitic question if necessary — this funny, wise, smart woman, who could write circles around most reporters,” Totenberg added.

Meanwhile, former President Barack Obama said in a statement, “She was a trailblazing figure; a role model to young women at a time when the profession was still dominated by men…She will be missed.”

As the daughter of two members of Congress, Roberts was no stranger to Washington politics. In 1978, she joined NPR as a congressional reporter, after previously working in local news and for CBS News. From 1996 to 2002, she co-anchored This Week on ABC with Donaldson.

Cokie Roberts was not only a journalist. She was a wife, a mother, a sister, as well as a friend and mentor to many people who looked up to her. While battling breast cancer, Roberts continued to stay active in her role as a commentator, writing columns for NPR and appearing on This Week.

As the author of six New York Times best-selling books on women in America, Roberts was a storyteller whose books explored female explorers, activists, writers and educators. In her book “We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters,” Roberts discussed the challenges women face and introduced some of the leading women she came across during her career in reporting, including Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Laura Bush and Billie Jean King, among others.

A funeral mass was held on September 21 in Washington D.C. to celebrate Roberts’ life. She is survived by her husband of 53 years, Steven V. Roberts, a journalist and professor at George Washington University; her two children, Lee and Rebecca Roberts; and her six grandchildren.

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