The name “Cokie Roberts” is synonymous with powerhouse political reporting in Washington.
When she joined National Public Radio in the 1970s, she did so at a time when female voices were prominent on public radio — but she carved out her own space by landing scoops in the era before social media and playing well with both sides of the aisle while still holding the powerful to account.
“She liked people on both sides of the aisle and had friends on both sides of the aisle,” political journalist George Will told ABC News. “If you don’t like the game of politics, I don’t see how you write about it well. She liked the game of politics, and she understood that it was a game.”
Roberts, who went from NPR to ABC News in the 1980s, died Tuesday morning following a bout of breast cancer. She was 75.
In 1977, Roberts and her family returned to Washington, where she took a job with a then-almost unknown NPR. She served as NPR’s congressional correspondent for more than 10 years. While in that role, she was also a contributor to PBS’s The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.
Roberts left NPR in 1988 to become a political correspondent for ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. She was also a regular fill-in anchor for Ted Koppel on Nightline. From 1992 to 2002, Roberts co-anchored ABC News’ Sunday morning show This Week alongside Sam Donaldson.
Will said that although Washington is a “town of short leases,” with people constantly coming and going, Roberts represented the permanent Washington, a kind of figure who was constant through decades of political change: “The Washington not often denounced by people who denounce Washington because they don’t know it exists,” Will said. “Cokie represented the durable, ongoing Washington that is a custodian of the manners of the city and the sociability of the city that makes it really function.”
During her broadcast career, Roberts won the Edward R. Murrow award and three Emmys among other awards.
“We will miss Cokie beyond measure, both for her contributions and for her love and kindness,” her family said in a statement to ABC News.