Early Life and Education
Roberts was born in New Orleans known as Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs but that was a full name so her brother Tommy could not pronounce her given name Corinne and received the nickname Cokie.
Her parents were Lindy Boggs and Hale Boggs, each of whom served for decades as Democratic members of the House of Representatives from Louisiana; Lindy succeeded Hale after his plane disappeared over Alaska in 1972. Cokie was their third child. Her sister, Barbara became mayor of Princeton, New Jersey and a candidate for the United States Senate. Her brother, Tommy as a child could not pronounce her given name Corrine.
She attended the Academy of the Sacred Heart an all-girls Roman Catholic High School in New Orleans and graduated from the Stone Ridge School, an all-girls school outside Washington, D.C., in 1960.
She graduated from Wellesley College in 1964, where she received a BA in Political Science.
Roberts’ first job in journalism was at WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., where she was host of its weekly public affairs program Meeting of the Minds.
After moving with Steve to New York City, she found work in 1967 as a reporter for Cowles Communications. She worked briefly as a producer for WNEW-TV before Steve’s journalism career had them relocating to Los Angeles. She worked for Altman Productions and then for KNBC-TV as producer of the children’s program Serendipity which won a 1971 Los Angeles Area Emmy Award. She also moved with her husband to Greece where she was a stringer for CBS News in Athens.
Roberts began working for National Public Radio (NPR) in 1978 working as the congressional correspondent for more than ten years. Because of her early involvement in the network as a female journalist at a time when women were not often involved in journalism at the highest levels, she has been called one of the “founding mothers of NPR”. Roberts was a contributor to the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the evening television news program The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. Her coverage of the Iran-Contra Affair for that program won her the Edward Weintal Prize for Diplomatic Reporting in 1988. From 1981 to 1984, in addition to her work at NPR, she also cohosted The Lawmakers, a weekly public television program on Congress. In 1994, The New York Times credited her, along with NPR’s Linda Wertheimer and Nina Totenberg with transforming male-dominated Washington, D.C. political journalism.
Roberts went to work for ABC News in 1988 as a political correspondent for ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings continuing to serve part-time as a political commentator at NPR.
Starting in 1992, Roberts served as a senior news analyst and commentator for NPR, primarily on the daily news program Morning Edition. Roberts was the co-anchor of the ABC News’ Sunday morning broadcast, This Week with Sam Donaldson & Cokie Roberts from 1996 to 2002, while serving as the chief congressional analyst for ABC News. She covered politics, Congress, and public policy while reporting for World News Tonight and other ABC News broadcasts. She continued to serve occasionally as a panelist on This Week. Her final assignment with NPR was a series of segments on Morning Edition titled “Ask Cokie”, in which she answered questions submitted by listeners about subjects usually related to U.S. politics.
Cokie Roberts in Rome on ABC 2000 Today
In 2002, Roberts was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. She was successfully treated at the time.
On September 17, 2019 Cokie died from complications of disease in Washington, D.C.