'Nightline' Co-Anchor Cynthia McFadden's Biography

Co-Anchor, Nightline

ByABC News
October 9, 2008, 4:06 PM

July 11, 2011— -- Cynthia McFadden was named co-anchor of ABC News' "Nightline" in October 2005. She joined ABC News in February 1994 as the network's legal correspondent. Two years later she was named a correspondent for "PrimeTime," and was made a co-anchor of the broadcast in 2004.

In 2012, McFadden landed several high-profile interviews that included author J.K. Rowling, award-winning recording artist Taylor Swift and First Lady Michelle Obama. Additionally, McFadden took an exclusive and rare look inside the new Ku Klux Klan and covered the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Much of McFadden's work has focused on children. She has reported two ground-breaking documentaries on the lives of children being raised by their grandparents ("Family Lost, Family Found" June 2005; "The Outsiders," February 2007). The first documentary followed three children over four years; the second followed two families for a year. Both chronicled the epidemic of children being raised by grandparents, six million at last count. In addition she has reported on children whose parents are serving in Iraq, children aging out of the foster care system (nominated for a 2007 Emmy; winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Award), obese children and violent children. In 2005, she took network cameras -- for the first time -- inside a family court in Kentucky.

McFadden has won numerous awards for her international work. She has reported extensively from Africa and India on the HIV-AIDS pandemic; from China on the environmental costs of that country's rapid economic growth; and from Israel and India on the illegal sale of women and young girls into sexual slavery. Her investigation into horrific human rights abuses in several Mexican mental hospitals led to a major overhaul of that government's institutions for the mentally ill. In the summer of 2005, in the wake of the London bombings, she traveled to Pakistan for an exclusive interview with President Pervez Musharraf and gathered rare footage of a Pakistan Security Council meeting.

Prior to assuming co-anchor duties at "Nightline," McFadden occasionally sat in for Ted Koppel and reported for the broadcast, including two exclusive reports on the U.S. government's efforts to secure loose nuclear materials both domestically and abroad.

In her role as ABC News' senior legal correspondent, McFadden covered a wide range of stories from the Justice Department and the Supreme Court. She also broke numerous stories on this beat and reported on legal cases from O.J. Simpson to Martha Stewart, Kobe Bryant, Elizabeth Smart, Laci Peterson and Michael Jackson. In 2004, she served as the legal editor and narrator of the ground-breaking ABC News documentary series, "In the Jury Room," which chronicled six homicide trials from a unique, fly-on-the-wall perspective. The series made television history by becoming the first program to show jury deliberations in a death penalty case. Also in 2004, she co-anchored and reported an hour-long documentary on school integration, 50 years after Brown v. Board of Education. The program has won several awards, including the First-Place Documentary from the N.Y. Association of Black Journalists.

As part of ABC's 9/11 reporting team McFadden received a 2001-2002 duPont Award. For ABC's Millennium coverage she reported from Cuba and was part of the team which was awarded the 1999-2000 Emmy.

McFadden's portfolio is diverse. Other Primetime reports have included an exclusive interview with Osama bin Laden's pilot; an award-winning report on gays in the military; an in-depth analysis of physicians serving as HMO providers despite having been disciplined for wrong-doing; an exclusive investigation and interview with the man who claims to be the sole attacker in the Central Park Jogger rape case; and an explosive hour-long investigation into a Massachusetts facility that routinely and voluntarily released violent sexual predators who preyed on children after getting out.

McFadden led the first investigation by a major news organization into one of America's darkest secrets, the forced sterilization of 60,000 to 100,000 American citizens; provided a disturbing look at the horrifying conditions inside two Mexican government institutions for the mentally ill and retarded; tracked five accused murderers to their hiding places in El Salvador, where she interviewed two of them; and investigated the use of female contraceptives to treat convicted rapists. In addition to many important newsmakers, she has interviewed such celebrities as Madonna, Cher, George Clooney, Tony Bennett, Paul Newman, Alicia Keys, Clint Eastwood, Paul McCartney, Angelina Jolie, Bono and Richard Gere.

McFadden's 1996 one-hour special, "Judgment at Midnight," marked the first time cameras were ever allowed on any death row cell block to document the final weeks of one inmate's life. The broadcast was accorded tremendous critical acclaim and numerous awards. In January of 1999, she anchored the award-winning ABC News special, "Target America: The Terrorist War," in which she reported on the African Embassy bombings.

Before coming to ABC News, McFadden was an anchor and senior producer at the Courtroom Television Network, beginning with the network's inception in 1991. She anchored live coverage of more than 200 trials, among them the William Kennedy Smith rape trial, the Menendez brothers' murder trial and the Rodney King trial. From 1984 to 1991, she was the executive producer of Fred Friendly's Media and Society seminars based at Columbia University. More than 30 of her programs were broadcast on PBS, including series on ethics, the military, terrorism and the Presidency.

McFadden's other awards include the George Foster Peabody Award, an Oversees Press Club Award, six Cine Golden Eagles, the Ohio State Award, two Silver Gavels from the American Bar Association, the Grand Award of the New York Festival and the Blue Ribbon of the American Film Festival. She was twice nominated for the CableACE's Anchor of the Year.

A native of Maine, McFadden graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from Bowdoin College. She received her law degree from Columbia University.

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