Trump’s comments came during a 50-minute off-the-record conversation with reporters traveling with him from Albuquerque to Mountain View, Calif., where he plans to attend fundraisers. Trump later allowed some parts of the conversation to be on the record, including his comments about Roberts.
Roberts became one of the most prominent Washington broadcasters of her era and championed young women in media during a long career with NPR and ABC News.
She earned three Emmy Awards, was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame in 2000 and was named a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress in 2008.
In March 2016, Roberts and her husband, Steve Roberts, jointly wrote a column in which they called on “the rational wing” of the Republican Party to reject Trump as their presidential candidate.
“The stakes are far too high for the rationalists to stay on the sidelines, and their first motive should be political self-interest,” they wrote.
During the 2016 campaign, the journalist and Trump also sparred on live television over the impact of his rhetoric on race.
With Trump on the phone during an MSNBC broadcast, Roberts described reports of racist slurs that children were using against their classmates in Trump’s name.
“Are you proud of that? Is that something that you’ve done in American social and political discourse that you are proud of?” Roberts asked.
“I think your question is a very nasty question,” Trump responded, before saying he had not heard of such reports.
Former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush were among other politicians who reacted to Roberts’s death on Tuesday.
“She was a trailblazing figure; a role model to young women at a time when the profession was still dominated by men; a constant over forty years of a shifting media landscape and changing world, informing voters about the issues of our time and mentoring young journalists every step of the way,” Obama said in a statement.
Bush and former first lady Laura Bush said in a joint statement that Roberts “covered us for decades as a talented, tough, and fair reporter.”
“We respected her drive and appreciated her humor. She became a friend,” they added.
Harrison Smith contributed to this report.