Cokie Roberts died today at 75 years old, due to complications from breast cancer. She is being widely remembered for her impact on American political discourse and for her role as a pioneer for women in journalism. During her long career, Roberts worked as a political reporter and analyst for both NPR and ABC News and won numerous awards including an Emmy, the Edward R. Murrow Award, and a place in the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame.
She also wrote several books about women in America’s founding era, including Founding Mothers, Ladies of Liberty, and Capital Dames: The Civil War and the Women of Washington, 1848-1868.
She was also known for not mincing words when it mattered. Earlier this year, she interrupted an NPR colleague on the air when he said that the 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote. “No, no, no ‘granting,'” Roberts broke in. “We had the right to vote as American citizens; we didn’t have to be granted it by a bunch of guys.”
But perhaps one of her most prophetic on-air moments came during the 2016 presidential election when she directly called out then-candidate Donald Trump for the racist flames his campaign rhetoric were fanning. With Trump on the phone, she described reports of racist slurs that children were using against their classmates in his name, then she asked, “Are you proud of that? Is that something that you’ve done in American social and political discourse that you are proud of?”
Trump, of course, fell back on his go-to insult for women he dislikes, calling her “nasty.” But Roberts pressed him undeterred. It’s a tenacity and directness that many in the media have struggled to find in the past three years, and hers is a voice in political journalism that will be sorely missed during the 2020 election.
You can watch the clip below:
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) March 9, 2016