Cokie Roberts, the daughter of politicians who grew up to cover the family business in Washington for ABC News and NPR over several decades, died Tuesday in Washington of complications from breast cancer. She was 75.
ABC broke into network programming to announce her death and pay tribute. Roberts was the daughter of Hale Boggs, a former House majority leader from Louisiana, and Lindy Boggs, who succeeded her husband in Congress.
Roberts worked in local news and at CBS News before joining NPR to cover Congress in 1978. She joined ABC a decade later, not leaving NPR.
Roberts is survived by her husband, two children and six grandchildren. "We will miss Cokie beyond measure, both for her contributions and for her love and kindness," her family said in a statement to ABC.
Bush, Obama and Pelosi hail Cokie Roberts
Roberts co-anchored ABC's Sunday political show, "This Week," with Sam Donaldson from 1996 to 2002.
"Cokie Roberts was a trailblazer who forever transformed the role of women in the newsroom and in our history books," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. "Over five decades of celebrated journalism, Cokie shone a powerful light on the unsung women who built our nation, but whose stories had long gone untold."
Former President Barack Obama said Roberts was a role model for women at a time the journalism profession was still dominated by men, and was a constant over 40 years of a shifting media landscape and changing world. "She will be missed, and we send our condolences to her family," Mr. Obama said.
Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, called Roberts a talented, tough and fair reporter. "We respected her drive and appreciated her humor," the former president said. "She became a friend."
Cokie Roberts never lost her love for politics
Roberts' colleagues said she never became cynical or lost her love for politics. NPR did have to clarify her role as a commentator when she and her husband of 53 years, Steven Roberts, wrote a column in 2016 calling on "the rational wing" of the Republican Party to reject Donald Trump as their presidential candidate.
Flying from New Mexico to California on Air Force One Tuesday, President Trump told reporters Roberts "never treated me nicely" but that he respected her.
"I never met her," Mr. Trump said. "She never treated me nicely, but I would like to wish her family well. She was a professional, and I respect professionals. I respect you guys a lot, you people a lot. She was a real professional. Never treated me well, but I certainly respect her as a professional."
Roberts was looking forward to covering election
Roberts, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002, kept working nearly to the end. She appeared on "This Week" in August, drawing enough concern about her evident weight loss that she released a statement saying "I am doing fine" and adding that she was looking forward to covering next year's election.
She co-wrote a political column for many years with her husband. Roberts also authored books focusing on the role of women in history.
She wrote two books with her husband, one about interfaith families and "From This Day Forward," an account of their marriage. Current ABC News political reporter Jonathan Karl recalled being in awe of Roberts when he first started working at the network.
"When I think of politics, I think of Cokie Roberts," he said.
"One of the greats… a seeker of truth"
"60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl wrote a moving tribute to Roberts, a friend since the 1970s, "when there were so few women covering politics, that all of us fit around one small table." Roberts, she wrote, "was the one with wisdom, the one we all went to for advice."
"Journalism lost one of the greats... a seeker of truth. But for me, losing Cokie Roberts is like losing the best sister you could ever have. And there's a sizable group of women journalists who feel that way as well," Stahl wrote.