One of America’s most recognized and experienced broadcast journalists, Lesley Stahl’s career has been marked by political scoops, surprising features and award-winning foreign reporting. She has been a 60 MINUTES correspondent since March 1991; the 2015-‘16 season marks her 25th on the broadcast.
Stahl’s 2013 series on Guantanamo Bay in which she gained unprecedented access to its prison facilities was honored by the RTDNA with an Edward R. Murrow award. In another eye-opening story, she reported from inside America’s nuclear missile control centers and spoke to the Air Force officers who described working in them with surprisingly old equipment.
Her uplifting feature, “Gospel for Teens,” was recognized with two Emmy Awards in 2012.
That same year, her whistleblower interview with F-22 Raptor pilots provided the first public personal accounts of the fighter’s oxygen system troubles, spurring the Secretary of Defense to take action. Stahl’s interview of a former CIA Clandestine Services chief about the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” on Al Qaeda operatives sparked a national debate.
Stahl’s two reports from the Middle East in the fall of 2010, “Unfinished Business,” about Iraq, and “City of David,” about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, were honored by the Overseas Press Club for Best Interpretation on International Affairs. Her reporting on the life of a young, musical savant won her an Edward R. Murrow award for feature reporting for her 2008 follow-up on Rex Lewis-Clack. Her interviews with the families of the Duke Lacrosse players exonerated in a racial rape case and with Nancy Pelosi before she became the first woman to become speaker of the house were big scoops for 60 MINUTES and CBS News in 2007. Her other exclusive 60 MINUTES interviews with former Bush administration officials Paul O’Neill and Richard Clarke ranked among the biggest news stories of 2004. In a December 2002 interview with Al Gore, Stahl was the first to report that he would not run for president.
Prior to joining 60 MINUTES, Stahl served as CBS News White House correspondent during the Carter and Reagan presidencies and part of the term of George H. W. Bush. Her reports appeared frequently on the CBS EVENING NEWS, first with Walter Cronkite, then with Dan Rather, and on other CBS News broadcasts.
During much of that time, she also served as moderator of FACE THE NATION, CBS News’ Sunday public-affairs broadcast (September 1983–May 1991). For FACE THE NATION, she interviewed such newsmakers as Margaret Thatcher, Boris Yeltsin, Yasir Arafat and virtually every top U.S. official, including George H. W. Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle.
She was co-host with Charles Kuralt of “America Tonight,” a daily CBS News late-night broadcast of interviews and essays (Oct. ’90-March ’91).
Her experiences covering Washington for more than 20 years became the subject of her book Reporting Live (Simon & Schuster, 1999). The stories she has covered since joining CBS News in the Washington bureau in 1972 range from Watergate through the 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan to the 1991 Gulf War. She has reported on U.S.-Russian summit meetings and the economic summits of the industrialized countries, and the national political conventions and election nights throughout her career.
Stahl anchored several CBS News documentaries, including “The Politics of Cancer” and “In the Red Blues,” about the budget deficit, both for “CBS Reports.”
Other Emmy winners include a Lifetime Achievement Emmy received in September 2003 and her first Emmy, won for reporting on a bombing in Beirut for the CBS EVENING NEWS in 1983. Her FACE THE NATION interview with Sen. John Tower won Stahl her second statuette. Her 60 MINUTES reports “How He Won the War,” about former FDA Commissioner David Kessler’s battle with the tobacco industry, and “Punishing Saddam,” which exposed the plight of Iraqi citizens, mostly children, suffering the effects of the United Nations sanctions against Iraq, were both Emmy winners. “Punishing Saddam” also won Stahl electronic journalism’s highest honor, an Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Silver Baton. Her profile of search engine giant Google earned her a 2005 Business and Financial Emmy award, and her timely 2006 interview of ex-Hewlett-Packard Chairwoman Patricia Dunn won an Emmy for coverage of a breaking news story.
In 1996, Stahl was awarded the Fred Friendly First Amendment Award, given by Quinnipiac College in Hamden, Conn., in recognition of her journalistic achievements. She was also honored that year by the Radio/Television News Directors Association (RTNDA) with an Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence in Television for her 60 MINUTES report on the Michigan Militia. In 1990, she was honored with the Dennis Kauff Journalism Award for lifetime achievement in the news profession.
Stahl was born Dec. 16, 1941, in Swampscott, Mass., and was graduated cum laude in 1963 from Wheaton College, where she served on the board of trustees. She currently serves on the board of the New York City Ballet. She and her husband, author Aaron Latham, live in New York. They have a daughter, Taylor.