Few journalists have achieved the impact and recognition that Steve Kroft’s 60 Minutes work has generated for over two decades. The five-time Peabody Award winner delivered his first report for the broadcast in September 1989, the 2016-17 season is his 28th on 60 Minutes.
Kroft’s recent story about thein a U.S. government report brought new scrutiny on role of ally Saudi Arabia in the 9/11 attacks. He conducted the first television interview with Iranian President Rouhani after the country signed its nuclear agreement with the U.S.
In 2015, Kroft broke the story of Jack Barsky, a Cold War Soviet spy who told him his story of living in the U.S. undetected for over a decade. His interview with author Michael Lewis about speed trading made waves on Wall Street. An investigation of the Stuxnet computer virus that sabotaged Iran’s nuclear program won an RTNDA Murrow Award in 2013. Kroft’s riveting interview with former nurse Charles Cullen -- who some say may have killed hundreds -- was the first time a serial killer appeared on 60 MIinutes in its 46 years on the air. His 2013 report on the failure to treat mental illness in America came on the heels of a rash of mass shootings, crimes often linked to mental illness. It won him his 12th Emmy.
Several other Kroft stories count among the most memorable in the broadcast’s history, beginning with his 1992 interview with then-Gov. Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary - the defining moment in that year’s presidential campaign watched by nearly 34 million people. His interview with the first African-American president of the U.S. and his wife in November of 2008 was Barack and Michelle Obama’s first post-election sit-down and the largest television audience of the year to that point, drawing over 25 million viewers. Kroft’s report from the still-radioactive Chernobyl nuclear power complex in 1990 was a classic 60 Minutes moment. He returned to Chernobyl in 1994 and became the first American reporter to enter the crippled reactor building.
Other memorable 60 Minutes stories include the only television interview with Woody Allen during his bitter custody battle with Mia Farrow; a report on alleged jury tampering in the O. J. Simpson murder case; and his investigation of Saddam Hussein’s hidden financial assets, estimated in the billions of dollars, which attracted worldwide attention.
Kroft’s 60 Minutes story on insider trading in the U.S. Congress in late 2011 drove the passage of Senate and House versions of the STOCK Act (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge) to prevent members of Congress from financial market trading based on nonpublic information learned in the course of their congressional work. He also reported two of the biggest news stories of 2011, getting the only interview of President Barack Obama on the killing of Osama bin Laden and revealing that Greg Mortenson lied in his best-selling book, “Three Cups of Tea,” and misrepresented the achievements of his charity.
In 2010, Kroft was chosen for the Paul White Award by the Radio, Television and Digital News Association (RTDNA) - the highest honor from the industry’s largest peer association. At the same time, he became the only 60 Minutes correspondent to win two Peabody Awards in the same year. One was for a story on the vulnerability to computer hackers of crucial infrastructures like the power grid, and the other for a story examining the enormous sums of money spent prolonging the lives of dying Americans, bringing his total number of Peabodys to five. Also in the same remarkable year, he won a George Polk award for his report attributing wild swings in the price of oil to Wall Street speculation and an Emmy for his report on rising Islamic militancy in Pakistan.
His joint investigation with the Washington Post exposing the deeply flawed forensic science of bullet lead analysis won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism award earlier in 2008 and was one of four major awards he won in the space of a year. He won the Sigma Delta Chi award for the same story and electronic journalism’s highest honor, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton, for an investigation into the disappearance of over $500 million from Iraq’s treasury. He also received the Fred Friendly First Amendment award from Quinnipiac University, one of the industry’s most prestigious recognitions.
His considerable body of work also was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Emmy in September 2003. And one of his finest investigative stories, a report examining the conflicts of interest between military contractors and the government in the awarding of contracts, “All in the Family” (April 2003), earned him a Peabody Award.
Kroft’s 60 Minutes reports have been recognized by awards committees since his earliest days on the program, winning an Emmy in his second season for the Chernobyl story and his first Peabody in his third season for “Friendly Fire,” which explored the tragic, yet common occurrence of soldiers accidentally killing their own men. In 1998, two of Kroft’s 60 Minutes reports were honored with another Peabody Award: “Veronica Guerin,” a piece about an Irish reporter gunned down by drug dealers, and “West Side Story,” an uplifting account of racial tension turned into racial harmony.
His report “America’s Worst Nightmare” (Oct. 2000), on Pakistan’s political instability, nuclear weapons and ties to Islamic militant groups such as the Taliban, won him his first Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton for a report the committee called “strikingly prophetic.”
Before joining 60 Minutes, Kroft was a principal correspondent on the CBS News magazine “West 57th,” after serving as foreign correspondent for CBS News based in the London bureau, a period during which he covered international terrorism in Europe and the Middle East, including the TWA hijacking in Beirut, the massacres at the Rome and Vienna airports by the Abu Nidal terrorist cell and the Achille Lauro hijacking. He also covered the war in Beirut and the sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. His report for the CBS Evening News on the assassination of Indira Gandhi won an Emmy Award.
Prior to his assignment in London, Kroft was a correspondent in the CBS News Miami bureau (1983) and traveled extensively in Latin America and the Caribbean. During that time, he covered the U.S. invasion of Grenada and the civil war in el Salvador, where he conducted one of his most famous interviews: as Kroft spoke to a soldier on-camera, a sniper’s bullet hit inches from the man’s head, abruptly ending the interview.
Kroft joined CBS News in January 1980 as a reporter in the Northeast bureau in New York. He was named a correspondent in May 1981 and worked out of the Dallas bureau (January 1981-May 1983).
Before joining CBS News, Kroft was a reporter for WPLG-TV Miami, WJXT-TV Jacksonville, Fla., and WSYR-TV Syracuse, N.Y.
He was born Aug. 22, 1945, in Kokomo, Ind., and was graduated from Syracuse University in 1967 with a bachelor of science degree. He was honored by his alma mater in 1992 with the George Arents Medal, the highest honor the university gives to an alumnus. Kroft earned a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Indiana University. He served with the United States Army in Vietnam as a correspondent and photographer for Pacific Stars and Stripes.
Kroft is married to journalist Jennet Conant. They live in New York and have a son, John Conant Kroft.