Diane Sawyer

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Diane Sawyer
Diane Sawyer 2011 Shankbone.JPG
Sawyer at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Jesus Henry Christ
Born Lila Diane Sawyer
(1945-12-22) December 22, 1945 (age 68)
Glasgow, Kentucky, United States
Education Wellesley College, B.A., 1967
Occupation Television journalist
Years active 1962–present
Political party
Republican Party
Spouse(s) Mike Nichols (m. 1988)

ABC news


Lila Diane Sawyer (born December 22, 1945) is the current anchor of ABC News' flagship program, ABC World News. Previously, Sawyer had been co-anchor of ABC News's morning news program Good Morning America (GMA) and primetime newsmagazine Primetime.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Glasgow, Kentucky, Sawyer is the daughter of Jean W. Sawyer (née Dunagan) – an elementary school teacher – and Erbon Powers "Tom" Sawyer, a judge.[1] Her ancestry includes English, Irish, Scots-Irish, and German.[2] Soon after her birth, her family moved to Louisville, where her father rose to local prominence as a Republican politician and community leader; he was Kentucky's Jefferson County Judge/Executive when he was killed in a car accident on Louisville's Interstate 64 in 1969. E. P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park, located in the Frey's Hill area of Louisville, is named in his honor.

Sawyer attended Seneca High School in the Buechel area of Louisville. She served as an editor-in-chief for her school newspaper, called the Arrow, and joined in many artistic activities. However, she always felt that she was in the shadow of her older sister, Linda.[citation needed] Diane, as a teen, said she was insecure and something of a loner. She would say that she was happy going off by herself or with a group of friends and, when she was with her friends, they would call themselves "reincarnated transcendentalist" and would read Emerson and Thoreau down by a creek. In her senior year of high school, in 1963, she won first place in the annual national "America's Junior Miss" scholarship pageant as a representative from the Commonwealth of Kentucky. She won by her strength of poise in the final interview and her essay comparing the music of the North and the South during the Civil War.[3]

Sawyer thought, at first, it was going to be a terrifying experience to travel around the country making public appearances as "America's Junior Miss," but it made her learn to think on her feet and do it with poise and grace.[3] So, during the period from 1962 to 1965, Sawyer was "America's Junior Miss", touring the country to promote the Coca-Cola Pavilion at the 1964–1965 New York World's Fair.

In 1967, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in English from Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. There, she was a member of the Wellesley College Blue Notes, an a cappella group, and Phi Sigma Lecture Society. She attended one semester of law school at the University of Louisville before turning to journalism.


Right after her graduation, Sawyer went back to Kentucky and got a job as weather forecaster for the WHAS-TV news in Louisville. In Sawyer's opinion, the weather was boring, so she would add quotes every now and then to keep it interesting. Finally, Sawyer was promoted to general assignment, but this could not sustain her interest for long. In 1970, Sawyer moved to Washington D.C. and, unable to find work as a broadcast journalist, she made the rounds in government offices. She eventually found a job as an assistant to Jerry Warren, the White House deputy press secretary. She was at first assigned to write press releases and quickly graduated to other tasks like drafting some of President Richard Nixon's public statements. In a few months, she was hired as administrative assistant to White House Press Secretary, Ron Ziegler, and eventually to staff assistant for U.S. President Richard Nixon.[4] Sawyer continued through Nixon's resignation from the presidency in 1974 and worked on the Nixon-Ford transition team in 1974–1975, after which she decamped with Nixon to California and helped him write his memoirs, published in 1978. She also helped prepare Nixon for his famous set of television interviews with journalist David Frost in 1977.[5]

Years later, Sawyer would be suspected of being Deep Throat, the source of leaks of classified information to journalist Bob Woodward during the Watergate scandal. In 2005, Deep Throat was identified as W. Mark Felt, but prior to that, Rabbi Baruch Korff – a longtime Nixon confidant and defender known as "Nixon's rabbi" – said on his deathbed that he believed Sawyer was Deep Throat. Sawyer laughed it off, and she was one of six people to request and receive a public denial from Woodward.[6][7]

When Sawyer came back to Washington D.C. in 1978, she joined CBS News as a general assignment reporter. She was promoted to political correspondent in February 1980; Sawyer became a fixture on the weekday broadcasts of Morning With Charles Kuralt. When CBS decided to expand its morning news show from sixty minutes to ninety minutes in 1981, they were looking for a co-anchor as well. So on May 13, 1981, the president of CBS News announced that Sawyer would be the new co-anchor; when she debuted on September 28, 1981, she put her own stamp on the broadcast.[3] The ratings for the show were boosted upon Sawyer's arrival, but the improvement did not last and after Kuralt left the show, he was replaced by Bill Kurtis. The ratings slid and Sawyer asked to be reassigned.[4]

In 1984, she became the first female correspondent on 60 Minutes, a CBS News investigative television newsmagazine. During Sawyer's five years with 60 Minutes, the program almost always ranked among the top five most-watched in the country.[4]

In 1989, she moved to ABC News to co-anchor newsmagazine Primetime Live with Sam Donaldson. From 1998 to 2000, she co-anchored ABC's 20/20, also a newsmagazine, co-anchoring on Wednesdays with Donaldson and on Sundays with Barbara Walters.

In 1999, Sawyer returned to morning news as the co-anchor of GMA with Charles Gibson. The assignment was putatively temporary, but her success in the position, measured by a close in the gap with front-runner Today, NBC News's morning program, sustained her in the position far longer than anticipated.

In 2000, Sawyer returned as co-anchor of the Primetime newsmagazine now called Primetime Thursday, with Gibson replacing Donaldson. In 2004, the show's title was changed to its original title of Primetime Live, a new executive producer was hired, and the newsmagazine shifted its focus to investigative reporting with Sawyer rotating co-anchoring duties with Chris Cuomo, Cynthia McFadden, and John Quiñones.[8] In 2005, the show was retitled Primetime and Sawyer left the show at the end of 2006 when its format changed to a sub-series focus.

On September 2, 2009, Sawyer was announced as the successor to Gibson, who retired as ABC World News anchor on Friday, December 18, 2009. Sawyer left GMA on December 11, 2009, and was scheduled to become the ABC World News anchor in January 2010. However, on December 1, 2009, The New York Times reported that instead of moving to ABC World News in January 2010, Sawyer would start on December 21, 2009, three days after Gibson's departure.[9] For over a year in 2010–2011, with Katie Couric then anchor of CBS News, two of the three network news anchors on broadcast television were women.[10] Ratings initially rose 8% after Sawyer's first four weeks, averaging 8.8 million viewers.[11] She signs off at the end of her nightly broadcast with "I'll see you right back here tomorrow night." The show, like its competitor evening newscasts, ended the year with ratings 14% below that of the preceding year. To this day in 2014, she is the anchor of ABC's flagship broadcast World News and the network's principal anchor for breaking news coverage, election coverage, and special events.[12]

Career timeline[edit]


In 1997, Diane Sawyer was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. In 2001, she was named one of the thirty most-powerful women in America by the Ladies' Home Journal. In 2007 she ranked 62nd on "Forbes Magazine's List of The World's 100 Most Powerful Women". She has won multiple awards, including a 2009 Peabody Award for her work on A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains.[15] She also won a Robert F. Kennedy award for journalism,[citation needed] and 3 Emmy awards for broadcast journalism.

Notable interviews (selected)[edit]

On June 28, 1990 Sawyer interviewed Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. It was Hussein's first interview on Western television in a decade.[16] Subsequently, as a side effect of that interview, on July 25, 1990 the then US Ambassador in Iraq April Glaspie was forced to issue an apology to Saddam Hussein. Glaspie was particularly critical of Diane Swayer's program on ABC.,[17] stating

"I saw the Diane Sawyer program on ABC. And what happened in that program was cheap and unjust. And this is a real picture of what happens in the American media -- even to American politicians themselves. These are the methods the Western media employs. I am pleased that you add your voice to the diplomats who stand up to the media. Because your appearance in the media, even for five minutes, would help us to make the American people understand Iraq. This would increase mutual understanding. If they American President had control of the media, his job would be much easier.".[18]

One week after Glaspie's interview, on 2 August 1990 at 2:00 am, local time, Iraq launched an Invasion of Kuwait which would further escalate into the Gulf War.

Sawyer has interviewed american political figures including U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. She conducted the first interview with U.S. President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton after his first election to the presidency in 1992.[13] On February 12, 2007, she interviewed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.[19]

On November 14, 2011, Sawyer secured another exclusive by being the first person to interview Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, ten months after she survived an assassination attempt. Sawyer spent the day with the wounded politician and her husband Mark Kelly, and observed Giffords during a speech therapy session. Diane since told People Magazine, "Of all the people I've interviewed, she's right there at the top."[20]

She has also interviewed:

In 2006 she spent a week in North Korea and opened Good Morning America with a live shot from Pyongyang.[22]

From the entertainment world, Sawyer has interviewed, especially as a host of GMA:

Sawyer also interviewed drug kingpin Rayful Edmond III of Washington, D.C., in 1989.[clarification needed]

Personal life[edit]

On April 29, 1988, she married television, stage and film director, writer, producer and comedian Mike Nichols. They have no children. Nichols has two daughters and a son from previous marriages. Sawyer had previously had relationships with Frank Gannon, a Nixon aide, and Richard Holbrooke, a U.S diplomat.[23]

Forbes Lists of Top 100 Celebrities reported that, between June, 2005 and June, 2008 she made approximately $12 million,[24] solely from entertainment income.


  1. ^ [verification needed]"Diane Sawyer Biography (1955?-)". filmreference.com. Retrieved September 17, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Diane Finds She's a True Kentucky Woman - ABC News". Abcnews.go.com. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  3. ^ a b c Sawyer, Diane. (1985). . Current Biography. Retrieved from Biography Reference Bank database.
  4. ^ a b c Diane Sawyer. (1994). In Newsmakers. Retrieved from http://ic.galegroup.com
  5. ^ Sherr, Lynn (December 6, 2008). "Diane Sawyer on Fact vs. Fiction in Frost/Nixon — The Good Morning America Host—Who Worked for Richard Nixon at the Time of His Interview with David Frost—Talks with The Daily Beast about Her Memories of Her Ex-Boss.". Blog at The Daily Beast. Accessed December 12, 2009.
  6. ^ [dead link]Carlin, John (June 28, 1995). "Dying Rabbi 'Names' Watergate's 'Deep Throat'". FindArticles (The Independent). Retrieved January 10, 2009. 
  7. ^ Staff writer (June 17, 2002). "Just Who is Deep Throat?". CNN. Retrieved December 12, 2009. 
  8. ^ http://www.thefutoncritic.com/listings/20040914abc01/
  9. ^ a b Stelter, Brian; Carter, Bill (December 1, 2009). "ABC Plans Low-Key Handoff for ‘World News’". Blog at The New York Times. Retrieved December 12, 2009. 
  10. ^ [dead link]Bauder, David (September 2, 2009). "Sawyer to Take Over as Anchor of ABC Evening News". The Associated Press via Yahoo! News. Retrieved September 16, 2009. [dead link]
  11. ^ Diane Sawyer sees 8 percent boost in ratings as ABC's 'World News' anchor, Sherryl Connelly, New York Daily News, January 25, 2010
  12. ^ Diane Sawyer's Biography. (2012). Retrieved January 9, 2014, from http://abcnews.go.com/WN/DianeSawyer/diane-sawyers-biography/
  13. ^ a b c Staff writer (April 26, 2007). "Diane Sawyer's Biography — Anchor, Good Morning America. ABC News. Accessed December 12, 2009.
  14. ^ a b c Staff writer (undated). "Diane Sawyer". Internet Movie Database. Accessed December 12, 2009.
  16. ^ http://www.aoltv.com/2011/01/03/diane-sawyer-talks-saddam-hussein-oprah-master-class/
  17. ^ "The Bush Administrations and Saddam Hussein: Deciding on Conflict" ISBN 9781299547292 by Alex Roberto Hybel, Justin Matthew Kaufman, pg 180, notes,
  18. ^ "The Glaspie Transcript" in "The Iraq war reader", ed Micah L. Sifry and Christopher Cerf (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2003) pages 61-71
  19. ^ http://www.biography.com/people/diane-sawyer-9472787
  20. ^ Diane's comment about Gabby First picture of Gabby Giffords in hospital: Shocking image reveals bravery of shot congresswoman as she fought for life
  21. ^ Howard, Margo (1984-11-05). "60 Minutes' Newest Correspondent, Diane Sawyer - Personal Success, 60 Minutes, Diane Sawyer". People.com. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  22. ^ Diane Sawyer reporting from North Korea
  23. ^ Howard, Margo (November 5, 1984). "60 Minutes' Newest Correspondent, Diane Sawyer — It Doesn't Take America's No. 1 Ex-Weathergirl to Know That the Wind Is Blowing Onward and Upward for 60 Minutes' Newest Correspondent". People. Retrieved December 12, 2009. 
  24. ^ "Forbes". Forbes.com. Retrieved 6 December 2013. 

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Charles Gibson
ABC World News anchor
December 21, 2009–present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Kevin Newman and Lisa McRee
Good Morning America co-anchor
January 18, 1999–December 11, 2009
with Charles Gibson (from January 18, 1999 to June 28, 2006), and Robin Roberts (from May 23, 2005 to December 11, 2009)
Succeeded by
George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts