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Why the Name 'Cokie'? Blame Her Brother

Acclaimed journalist and author Cokie Roberts is dead at 75
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2019 9:45 AM CDT
Updated Sep 17, 2019 1:37 PM CDT

(Newser) – Acclaimed journalist and author Cokie Roberts has died at age 75 of complications from breast cancer, reports ABC News. Roberts had been diagnosed back in 2002, and in August she sought to reassure worried fans after she appeared on the news program This Week. "Over the summer, I have had some health issues which required treatment that caused weight loss," she said. "I am doing fine." A look at her life:

  • Career: Roberts is perhaps best known for her work with ABC News, which she joined in 1988. But she's also well known for her work with NPR, starting in 1978. On ABC, she co-anchored This Week with Sam Donaldson from 1996 to 2002 and won all kinds of awards for her work along the way, including three Emmys. She also wrote eight books, with the role of pioneering women a common theme, per the New York Times.
  • Those NPR days: Roberts "was one of NPR's most recognizable voices and is considered one of a handful of pioneering female journalists—along with Nina Totenberg, Linda Wertheimer and Susan Stamberg—who helped shape the public broadcaster's sound and culture at a time when few women held prominent roles in journalism," per the NPR obit. A 1994 New York Times article declared that "a new kind of female punditry was born" with the trio of Roberts, Totenberg, and Wertheimer. The story praised the "tart-tongued Cokie with her savvy Congressional reporting."

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  • Her marriage: Roberts married a fellow journalist, Steven Roberts, in 1966, and the the pair wrote a book about their interfaith marriage, From This Day Forward, in 2000, notes the Jewish Telegraph Agency. Steven Roberts is Jewish, but Cokie Roberts opted not to convert. "I couldn't give up Jesus," she once said.
  • The nickname: She was the daughter of Hale Boggs, a former House majority leader from Louisiana, and Lindy Boggs, who would succeed her husband in Congress when he died in a plane crash, notes the AP. They called her Corinne, but Roberts' brother, Tommy, had trouble pronouncing it. Hence, Cokie. For the record, her full name at birth in New Orleans was Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs.
  • Trump controversy: In 2016, she co-authored a syndicated column with her husband calling on the "rational wing" of the GOP to stop President Trump's nomination. Afterward, NPR clarified that she was a part-time commentator for the news agency, not a full-time reporter.
  • His reaction: "She never treated me nicely, but I would like to wish her family well," said President Trump in the wake of her death, per the Washington Post.
  • Big tributes: Roberts “was a trailblazer who forever transformed the role of women in the newsroom and in our history books,” said Nancy Pelosi. Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush both praised her as a journalist. "She will be missed," said Obama.
  • In her words: "It is such a privilege—you have a front seat to history," she said in 2017 while reflecting on her career. "You do get used to it, and you shouldn't, because it is a very special thing to be able to be in the room ... when all kinds of special things are happening."
(A veteran TV newsman also died this week.)

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