She has received two Emmy Awards for 48 Hours reports, including one for a program about Bosnian refugees. Spencer also received a 1996 Environment Defense Fund Award for a report on autism and an RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence for a story about a child's struggle to find a match for an organ transplant.
Spencer's reporting experience in national and international news is vast. Prior to 48 Hours, she was CBS News' White House correspondent and the primary correspondent for the Eye On America segment on the CBS Evening News. Spencer covered the 1988 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, President George Bush's unsuccessful 1992 reelection campaign, and Bill Clinton's first inauguration.
She had previously been a CBS News national correspondent. She played major roles in CBS News' coverage of the Persian Gulf War, reporting from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. She also reported on the student uprising in Tiananmen Square and on the death of Japan's Emperor Hirohito, both in 1989.
Spencer was named CBS News' medical correspondent in 1986. She was anchor of the Sunday edition of the CBS Evening News (1988-89) and substitute anchor for the CBS Sunday Night News (1987-89). Spencer joined CBS News as a reporter in its Washington bureau in 1977 and was named a correspondent in 1978.
Before that, she worked for WCCO-TV, the CBS owned station in Minneapolis, where she held several positions, including reporter and co-anchor (1972-77). Spencer was a researcher for WCBS-TV, the CBS owned station in New York (1971-72), and a writer and producer for the public affairs broadcast at WKPC-TV Louisville, Ky.
She was born in Memphis and graduated from Michigan State University in 1968 with a bachelor's degree and from Columbia University in 1969 with a master's degree, both in journalism. She lives in Washington, D.C. Her husband is Tom Oliphant, political columnist for The Boston Globe.