Cokie Roberts, 1943 – 2019
September 17, 2019 8:49 AM   Subscribe

Supreme Court coverage will never be the same. Veteran journalist Cokie Roberts, who joined an upstart NPR in 1978 and left an indelible imprint on the growing network with her coverage of Washington politics before later going to ABC News, has died. She was 75. Roberts died Tuesday due to complications from breast cancer, according to a family statement.
posted by jquinby (52 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
RIP. She was so good, and working right up until the end. I particularly appreciated a segment she did remembering Watergate, maybe this one. It was really compelling not only hearing from someone who was there when it happened, but who had significant insight into personalities and telling details. Excellent reporter.
posted by Nelson at 9:05 AM on September 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


As far as most folks in my house are concerned, she's was the voice of SCOTUS coverage while they were in session - reading the transcripts of oral arguments, and so forth. It was always great stuff.
posted by jquinby at 9:08 AM on September 17, 2019


Isn't Nina Totenberg the one that changed Supreme Court coverage with the Clarence Thomas story?
posted by hwestiii at 9:10 AM on September 17, 2019 [7 favorites]


Fuck cancer. Thank you, Ms. Roberts, for all the good journalism, and for being a ceiling breaker.
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posted by theora55 at 9:11 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


TFW you realize you might be confusing Nina Totenberg and Cokie Roberts w/r/t SCOTUS coverage...mea culpa.
posted by jquinby at 9:15 AM on September 17, 2019 [6 favorites]


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posted by evilDoug at 9:16 AM on September 17, 2019


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(A lot of journalists don’t understand Washington as a city, not just a container for politicians. She did.)
posted by sallybrown at 9:18 AM on September 17, 2019 [7 favorites]


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posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:20 AM on September 17, 2019


Are there others who only knew her as a commentator on NPR? Because that part felt different to me than the reporting described above. I wasn’t there for Watergate.
posted by kerf at 9:24 AM on September 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


What a great journalist. Great communicator.

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posted by cosmac at 9:26 AM on September 17, 2019


I agred, kerf. To me her work as a reporter was far better than her work as a commentator (all of her both sides-ing drove me away, tbh). In any case, condolences to her family and friends. With the rise of podcasting, I'm glad we're seeing a more diverse group of reporters, gender-wise, racially, and socioeconomically now.
posted by longdaysjourney at 9:28 AM on September 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


Around 1993, Roberts accused Dianna Ortiz of lying about being abducted, raped, and tortured by the Guatemalan military. I doubt it was entirely coincidental that her older brother's law firm was at one time in the employ of the regime, paid to make them look good so US military aid would be restored.

She always struck me as representative of a strata of rich liberal DC that pretends to be civilized and plummily sips its tea with hands caked in blood.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:30 AM on September 17, 2019 [27 favorites]


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posted by JoeXIII007 at 9:30 AM on September 17, 2019


😔

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posted by terrapin at 9:34 AM on September 17, 2019


My memory of Cokie Roberts is drawn almost exclusively from her years of appearing on Sunday shows, in panels which always seemed to present opinion from the far right to the just-barely-left-of-center, offering gossipy, insidery, conventional-wisdom takes. Not surprised to find out she was from a political family. George Will's remembrance of her rings true:

"She liked people on both sides of the aisle and had friends on both sides of the aisle," Will told NPR. "If you don't like the game of politics, I don't see how you write about it well," he said. "She liked the game of politics and she understood that it was a game."

While I'm glad she increased female representation, this kind of insider reporting obscures rather than illuminates and is too cynical for something done for the public benefit. Government has a huge impact on people's lives. It's no game.
posted by factory123 at 9:44 AM on September 17, 2019 [29 favorites]


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posted by Gray Duck at 10:02 AM on September 17, 2019


I always liked that no matter what her public role was, she always said that her relationship with her husband, her two kids, and her six grandchildren were the most important thing in her life. Family first.
posted by AugustWest at 10:08 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


Fuck. I’m going to miss hearing her voice a lot.
posted by obfuscation at 10:08 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


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The voice of the SCOTUS is gone.
posted by blurker at 10:36 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


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posted by Splunge at 10:37 AM on September 17, 2019


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posted by XMLicious at 10:39 AM on September 17, 2019


She was a fine reporter but people like her working at NPR made me wonder why people regarded the place as ultra liberal.
posted by Bee'sWing at 11:15 AM on September 17, 2019 [7 favorites]


This was sad news to me.
posted by y2karl at 11:33 AM on September 17, 2019


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posted by coppertop at 11:46 AM on September 17, 2019


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posted by rocketman at 11:48 AM on September 17, 2019


Oh no! So sad.

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posted by ikahime at 11:48 AM on September 17, 2019


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posted by Caduceus at 11:56 AM on September 17, 2019


I don't have enough dots for this.

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posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 12:30 PM on September 17, 2019


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posted by Mental Wimp at 12:45 PM on September 17, 2019


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posted by HumanComplex at 12:59 PM on September 17, 2019


The insular, beltway DC village insider, right wing, anti-Clinton perspective will never be the same.
posted by Chuffy at 1:46 PM on September 17, 2019 [10 favorites]


I will always remember Cokie this way: Cokie Roberts - Moderately Well Known Broadcast Journalist or Center of the Universe?

(TFW you google for this cartoon and find that you posted it yourself back in 2011)
posted by bruceo at 2:10 PM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


Never liked her, especially in her later years of pompous commentary. She represented some of the worst of "inside the beltway" journalism. Were it not for her gender, I suspect most MeFites would classify her closer to David Brooks, George Will, etc. Perhaps the closest parallel is Chris Wallace, who does some very good journalistic work, but is nonetheless a right-leaning creature of permanent Washington.
posted by PhineasGage at 2:28 PM on September 17, 2019 [8 favorites]


One of her greatest hits

On Barack Obama visiting his grandmother:

"Yeah, that he has certainly come nowhere near closing the deal. As we've talked about before, in this year that should be such a Democratic year given all the other indices, he is tied in the polls and stage-sided in the polls and going off this week to a vacation in Hawaii --crosstalk-- does not make any sense whatsoever. I know his grandmother lives in Hawaii and I know Hawaii is a state, but it has the look of him going off to some sort of foreign, exotic place. He should be in Myrtle Beach, and, you know, if he's going to take a vacation at this time...And I just think that, you know, this is not the time to do that."

"Exotic"
posted by Chuffy at 2:49 PM on September 17, 2019 [9 favorites]


Of course Cokie would think fondly on Myrtle Beach. When Obama was born and Cokie was a teenager, African Americans were not even allowed to walk on Myrtle Beach, let alone swim there. I'm sure she and her family thoroughly enjoyed their whites-only beach.
posted by JackFlash at 3:13 PM on September 17, 2019 [6 favorites]


Nina Totenberg obituary for Cokie Roberts; The Personification Of Human Decency. (This one's for you, jquinby.)
posted by Nelson at 3:35 PM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


"She liked people on both sides of the aisle and had friends on both sides of the aisle," Will told NPR. "If you don't like the game of politics, I don't see how you write about it well," he said. "She liked the game of politics and she understood that it was a game."

Will's tribute to her inadvertently sums up what drove me totally batty about her commentary. It was all about perceptions and scoring points and never about actual policy.
posted by octothorpe at 3:42 PM on September 17, 2019 [10 favorites]


It's been a long time since I tuned in to anything where I would see or hear her, because it's been a long time since I concluded she was part of the problem, not part of the solution.
posted by Aardvark Cheeselog at 5:02 PM on September 17, 2019 [6 favorites]


So, I'm guessing The Blood Caked Hands of Cokie Roberts is now available for a sockpuppet account.
posted by y2karl at 5:11 PM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


So, I'm guessing The Blood Caked Hands of Cokie Roberts is now available for a sockpuppet account.

You have my blessing.
posted by ryanshepard at 5:52 PM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


Of course Cokie would think fondly on Myrtle Beach. When Obama was born and Cokie was a teenager, African Americans were not even allowed to walk on Myrtle Beach, let alone swim there. I'm sure she and her family thoroughly enjoyed their whites-only beach.

Speaking of Barack Obama, he does not share your disdain for Cokie Roberts.
posted by JeffL at 6:19 PM on September 17, 2019


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posted by allandsome at 6:28 PM on September 17, 2019


Speaking of Barack Obama, he does not share your disdain for Cokie Roberts.

washington establishment figures mourns passing of washington establish figure—big, if true!
posted by entropicamericana at 6:58 PM on September 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


I'm expecting that this will be removed (because my comments are frequently removed, somehow) but she was a terrible journalist who never, ever had an original thought, the epitome of smug, inside-the-beltway "coverage." I take no particular satisfaction in knowing she's dead, but the slavering over her work by people in the industry, while par for the course, as the press loves talking about itself and its members, really tells me that the press has learned nothing from the last few years.
posted by ivanthenotsoterrible at 7:41 PM on September 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


Thanks for many a "This Week" in its various incarnations; and always seeming to bring a pleasant tone to any issue she spoke on.

Her voice will me missed.
posted by buzzman at 8:12 PM on September 17, 2019


Cokie Roberts wrote remarkably bad history books and was a mediocre journalist who provided little of value except a pleasant demeanour, and she made her money on appearing pleasant. She earns her little dot on the basis of being a prominent female journalist when there weren't a lot of them, which mattered to a lot of people who have gone on to produce much better work than she did.
posted by mightygodking at 10:14 PM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


Cokie Roberts wrote remarkably bad history books and was a mediocre journalist who provided little of value except a pleasant demeanour, and she made her money on appearing pleasant. She earns her little dot on the basis of being a prominent female journalist when there weren't a lot of them, which mattered to a lot of people who have gone on to produce much better work than she did.

Eh... it's a little tricky. When she started, it was hard (if not impossible) for women to be mediocre and still be successful, so Occam's razor suggests that she wasn't mediocre as a journalist.

The late-career Cokie that we knew wasn't really a journalist though, so much as a pundit. "Mediocre" and "pundit" tend to go well together, so I regard that more as a function of her late-career role, rather than her actual journalistic ability when she was being a journalist.
posted by parliboy at 7:21 AM on September 18, 2019


provided little of value except a pleasant demeanour

being a prominent female journalist when there weren't a lot of them
posted by sallybrown at 8:14 AM on September 18, 2019 [4 favorites]


Well, it was an eponysterical remark.
posted by y2karl at 12:58 PM on September 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


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posted by dogstoevski at 4:36 PM on September 18, 2019


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posted by filtergik at 2:06 PM on September 19, 2019


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(I'm floored to find so much Cokie hate in her Metafilter obit page.)
posted by she's not there at 2:03 AM on September 22, 2019


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