Cokie Roberts, renowned US political journalist, dies at 75

Roberts is described as a pioneer, helping shape journalism landscape at a time when 'few women had prominent roles'.

    Cokie Roberts speaks during the opening ceremony for Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia [File: Matt Rourke/AP]
    Cokie Roberts speaks during the opening ceremony for Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia [File: Matt Rourke/AP]

    Cokie Roberts, the daughter of politicians who grew up to cover the family business in Washington, DC, for ABC News and NPR over several decades, died on Tuesday of complications from breast cancer. She was 75.

    ABC broke into network programming to announce her death and pay tribute.

    "We will miss Cokie beyond measure, both for her contributions and for her love and kindness," her family said in a statement, according to ABC.

    "Cokie's career as a journalist at National Public Radio and ABC News took her to the heights of her profession, and her success as an author on history and family put her on the bestseller list," the family added. "But her values put family and relationships above all else."

    Roberts, born Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs, 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 radio and at CBS News and PBS before joining ABC News in 1988.

    She was a congressional reporter and analyst who coanchored the Sunday political show This Week with Sam Donaldson from 1996 to 2002.

    Corkie Roberts
    Then-National Rifle Association (NRA) President Charlton Heston, left, appears on the ABC News programme This Week With Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts in Washington, DC [File: Reuters]

    Roberts, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002, kept working nearly to the end. She appeared on This Week programme in August, drawing enough concern about her evident weight loss that she released a statement saying "I am doing fine" and was looking forward to covering next year's election.

    She cowrote a political column for many years with her husband of 53 years, Steven. They had two children.

    Roberts wrote several books, focusing on the role of women in history. She wrote two 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.

    Corkie Roberts
    George Stephanopoulos, right, ABC News contributor, and Cokie Roberts, coanchor of This Week, laugh during ABC's part of the Television Critic's Association's winter press tour [File: Kevork Djansezian/AP]

    Her colleagues said she never became cynical or lost her love for politics. She did force NPR to clarify her role as a commentator when she wrote a column in 2016 calling on "the rational wing" of the Republican Party to reject Donald Trump as its presidential candidate.

    NPR described Roberts on Twitter as one of the public radio broadcasters "longest-running and most recognizable voices".

    "Roberts helped shape the public broadcaster's sound and culture at a time when few women held prominent roles in journalism," NPR tweeted.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies