Legendary journalist Cokie Roberts’ life covering politics: Part 1

The daughter of U.S. Representatives, Roberts broke barriers covering politics. Beloved by her colleagues, she embodied the idea of journalistic integrity and female empowerment.
10:30 | 09/18/19

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Transcript for Legendary journalist Cokie Roberts’ life covering politics: Part 1
will be right back. You can't cover American politics, with all of its yeastiness and flavor, without having a love of this country. I have provided a service by informing the citizenry. You have a front seat to history. 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. For nearly half a century. We're following two major stories tonight. My colleague, cokie Roberts. From the storied capitol rotunda to the frenetic convention floor. As you say, we've seen a lot of years of -- All the way to the halls of the Vatican. Cokie Roberts covered it all. Cokie was living history. Her gift was the gift of a great mind matched with a good person, and that is very rare. She was, perhaps, a mother to all of us, but she also dared us to tell our stories, but to also be present. She was a force of nature. Really, a force of nature. She was funny. She was whip smart, and she was a great reporter. There's no such thing as fake news. There's either news or it's fake. There are no alternative facts. They're facts or they're not. Journalism may have been her calling, but politics was cokie's passion. As adept at disarming politicians as she was at calling them out. What is your definition of womanizing? Most women know it when they see it, senator. Inaugurations and moments at conventions and all of that, elections, all of that, but as you well know, the individual intew was someone who is a mom in a shopping mall can tell you more about what's going on in the world and how people feel about it than any of those grand things combined. Here, in her final appearance on "This week". The show she once anchored. Her signature righteous indignation on full display. It's not mental illness that causes nine people to die in 30 seconds. It's a high-gauge weapon. She helped other women. So she was interested in civil rights, in the environment, cokie was interested in helping people. As an award-winning reporter and author, the devoted wife and mom charged her way in an industry where women were just breaking through. Women are concerned with economic issues more than anything else. And when women think about economic issue, they tend to think about them different than men. . Once we discovered cokie Roberts was smarter than the rest of us, we not only had to accept her, we wanted to accept her. In an industry that was dominated by men. Cokie was my kind of mother. She did not pretend that everything is wonderful and Instagram perfect. She would tell you about tough times. Cokie made sure that you weren't beating up on yourself. She was deeply beloved by her ABC colleagues, not just for what she represented but her unfailing kindness. Cokie's office is a couple doors down from mine. But I remember so many times going in that office. If you had a particularly rough day at work or even at home. And there was something about just walking in there and seeing that incredible, incredible smile that cokie had or that beautiful laugh. And you just felt better. You knew cokie had been there before. Her name was a mouthful. Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne boggs Roberts, but the world knew her as cokie. A nickname from when her brother couldn't say Corinne and stuck with her throughout her life. Her family saying her career took her to the heights of her profession. But her values put family and relationships above all else. Today, four presidents, the speaker of the house and legions of politicians from both sides of the aisle all expressing condolences, extolling the woman so many powerful people called friend. Born in Louisiana in 1943, cokie Roberts was the daughter of long-time U.S. Representatives, hale and Lindy boggs. Her father, the house majority leader, died in a plane crash. Her mother then elected to his seat. Collectively, the boggs represented New Orleans for 46 years. The other women who were in Washington when I was growing up, we watched run everything. We watched them run the political conventions. Campaigns. Through her parents, she first enjoyed that front row seat to history and politics. As a young girl, she considered joining the family business. But in college her interest in journalism sparked by her future husband, Steve Roberts. But her love and close ties to Washington were never far behind. President Lyndon Johnson famously even attending her wedding in 1966. She began working at an anchor in Washington at 21. And shortly after headed to new York to work as a reporter. It was essentially reporting and then writing very brief little stories, and I loved it. Landing at national public radio as a political From ABC news -- But in 1988, she found her home here. The American people don't want this to go on for another year. But he can't do an I didn't inhale and I didn't, I wasn't ever drafted. Working as a contributor on "This week". Something we've talked a lot about on this program. That people are so agitated and angry and ready to take arms. Cokie's razor-sharp mind matched only by her warmth which hipped put guests at ease. You must be a very important person. And always that infectious smile, her hearty laugh. Her sassy sense of humor. A great laugh. And a wonderful twinkle in her eyes when she laughed. So it was infectious. This week would become her home, co-anchoring the show with Sam Donaldson from 1996 to 2002. I that I was her greatest contribution other than as a great political reporter, and that she brought so many young women into empowerment, into the place they should have been to begin with. And she's had a special relationship with our show over the years. This is "Nightline." Substituting for Ted Koppel and reporting from Washington, cokie Roberts. Incredibly, miracles keep happening. Guest hosting back in 1999 and becoming a mentor and maternal figure to producers and anchors alike. Cokie helped make "Nightline" with Ted Koppel. Ted was the anchor, but he frequently relied on her reporting from congress. And I remember when I became anchor of "Nightline," one of the three co-anchors of "Nightline" after Ted left, I talked to her about it, and she said as she would, you'll do fine. Just remember it's not Ted's show anymore. It's yours. Do it your way, and you'll be good. She was a staple of ABC's powerhouse political coverage, interviewing presidents, politicians and first ladies. Other area of advice that you could give as I'm talking about issues, and of course one that's been so touchy in the Republican party is the issue of abortion. Where you said at one point, just get it out of the platform. I believe that. I believe it's, I believe in states' rights. And I don't think it should be in a national platform. Nothing a president can do about it anyway in all honesty, cokie. Embodying the twin ideals of journalistic integrity and female empowerment. I hate to say it, John, but it's a female thing. Women do work together a lot. Much more so than their husbands. Much more so than men. Thank you. She would write several "New York Times" best sellers, recounting the remarkable and often untold contributions of women in American history. When I started out in the world of work, it was illegal for women to become generals or so there's a huge change in the years that I've been plowing this street. Cokie received countless awards, cited as one of the 50 greatest women in the history of broadcasting, holding more than 30 honorary degrees. You must look at the institutions of government, politics, business, the academy, journalism and hold them accountable to the people they are supposed to serve. Despite a 2002 diagnosis of breast cancer, cokie kept working, inspiring those of us privileged enough to work by her side. She made each and every one of her fellow colleagues better by always striving and reminding us that empathy is a cornerstone of journalism. Cokie Roberts, loving wife, devoted mother of two, doting grandmother of six. A shining example for us all, and yet, for all her triumphs, this is how she wanted to be remembered. There's no question to me what she would want to be remembered as, as a great mom. And a great wife. And a great-grandmother. And a great daughter. By far, the best of all, I have become a grandmother. Caretaking. That's common thread that runs through these stories. No matter what else women are doing, we are also mothering. Taking care of somebody or something and for the most part, doing it joy Ousley. I think we've been doing it awfully well for a very long time.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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