First Person Singular: Cokie Roberts

First Person Singular
(Benjamin C Tankersley)
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Sunday, August 2, 2009

I'm the third child, and I think that I spent a lot of my life listening to people argue. Often what would happen is my sister and father would be on one side, and my mother and brother were on the other side. And I was the person who had to wait until the last to speak. By then, they had staked out their sides, and it was pretty easy to see where the middle ground was. It was easy to be the person who wasn't on any side by that time. I think that often where I am is just in the middle. The middle is often the common-sensical place to be. The notion that one side is right and one side is wrong is generally, as one finds in life, not the case. Women tend to be a lot more common-sensical than men are. In fact, when the Mark Sanford thing broke, I went tearing into my husband's office and said, "Okay, that's it. Women just are better. Men are just lesser beings." He couldn't argue at that point.

My husband was always going to be a journalist. And I was kind of moving around the country and world with him. The New York Times sent us to Greece, and by this time the kids were 3 and 5, and I went around to the networks and said, "We're moving to Greece, and we'll have a telex. Use me." CBS actually gave me a tape recorder. A couple months later, the Greek junta fell and the Turks invaded Cyprus, and everything broke loose. And so I was on the air every hour, doing hourly radio reports. I hadn't really done breaking hard news. It just isn't that hard, because it's as plain as the nose on your face. "Hey, here's what's happening. It's a war." At one point, my 5-year-old counted the number of tanks going down the main avenue. And he was my source. He was a good counter.

I feel that I have walked on this earth long enough, and had enough life experiences, and enough reportorial experiences, and done enough studying that I should feel confident about saying things. I think that, particularly for a woman, getting older gives you much more of a sense of confidence. As a younger woman, it's very difficult to have people take you seriously. The other thing that happens at this stage of life is that people take your phone calls. You can get to the source. And the source is no longer just my 5-year-old.

Interview by Cathy Areu


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