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 73)
Glasgow, Kentucky, United States
Education Wellesley College, B.A., 1967
Occupation Television journalist
Years active 1962–present
Spouse(s) Mike Nichols (m. 1988–2014; his death)
Website ABC news

Lila Diane Sawyer (born December 22, 1945) is an American television journalist. Previously, Sawyer has been the anchor of ABC News's nightly flagship program ABC World News, a co-anchor of ABC News's morning news program Good Morning America and Primetime newsmagazine. Early in her career, she was a member of U.S. President Richard Nixon's White House staff and closely associated with the president himself.

Early life

Born in Glasgow, Kentucky, Sawyer is the daughter of Jean W. (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] 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. At first, Sawyer thought that travelling around the country as America's Junior Miss would be a terrifying experience, but it made her learn to think on her feet and do it with poise and grace.[3]

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


Immediately after her graduation, Sawyer returned to Kentucky and was employed as weather forecaster for WLKY-TV in Louisville. In Sawyer's opinion, the weather was boring, so she would occasionally add quotes to keep it interesting. Finally, Sawyer was promoted to a general-assignment post, but this did not sustain her interest for long. In 1970, Sawyer moved to Washington, D.C., and, unable to find work as a broadcast journalist, she interviewed for positions in government offices. She eventually became an assistant to Jerry Warren, the White House deputy press secretary. Initially, Sawyer wrote press releases and quickly graduated to other tasks like drafting some of President Richard Nixon's public statements. Within a few months, she became an 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 became 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 and featured on the weekday broadcasts of Morning with Charles Kuralt. When CBS expanded its morning news show from 60 to 90 minutes, Sawyer was announced as co-anchor on May 13, 1981, by the president of CBS News. With her debut 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 decreased further, 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 regularly ranked among the top-five most-watched in the country.[4]

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

In 1999, Sawyer returned to morning news as the co-anchor of Good Morning America 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 Primetime newsmagazine now called Primetime Thursday, with Gibson replacing Donaldson. Sawyer was the first to announce to the Good Morning America viewers that the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11 2001. In 2004, when the show's title was changed to its original name, Primetime Live, a new executive producer was hired, and the newsmagazine format was changed to investigative reporting with Sawyer rotating as the co-anchor 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 again changed, with a sub-series focus.

On September 2, 2009, Sawyer was announced as the successor to Gibson, who retired as the anchor of ABC World News, 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 (2010–2011), with Katie Couric as then anchor of CBS Evening 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 signed off at the end of her nightly broadcast with "I'll see you right back here tomorrow night." The show, like the competing evening newscasts, ended the year with ratings 14% below that of the preceding year. Until 2014 she was 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]

On June 25, 2014, it was announced that she would step down from the anchor chair at ABC World News in September 2014. She will remain with ABC News and will focus on creating specials and conducting high profile interviews.[13]

Career timeline


Personal life

On April 29, 1988, she married Mike Nichols. They had no children. Nichols had two daughters and a son from previous marriages. (Nichols died on November 19, 2014, at the age of 83.) Sawyer previously had relationships with Frank Gannon, a Nixon aide, and Richard Holbrooke, a U.S diplomat.[20]

"Forbes Magazine's List of The World's 100 Most Powerful Women" in Forbes magazine reported that, between June 2005 and June 2008, she made approximately $12 million,[16] solely from entertainment income.


  1. [verification needed]"Diane Sawyer Biography (1955?-)". filmreference.com. Retrieved September 17, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Diane Finds She's a True Kentucky Woman - ABC News". Abcnews.go.com. Retrieved 2012-08-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Sawyer, Diane. (1985). . Current Biography. Retrieved from Biography Reference Bank database.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Staff writer (June 17, 2002). "Just Who is Deep Throat?". CNN. Retrieved December 12, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Listings - TheFutonCritic.com - The Web's Best Television Resource". Retrieved 13 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 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. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[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. "Diane Sawyer to Step Down as 'World News' Anchor". ABCNews.com. June 25, 2014. Retrieved August 5, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 14.0 14.1 Staff writer (April 26, 2007). "Diane Sawyer's Biography — Anchor, "Good Morning America". "ABC News." Accessed December 12, 2009.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Staff writer (undated). "Diane Sawyer". Internet Movie Database. Accessed December 12, 2009.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Forbes". Forbes.com. Retrieved 6 December 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award#2013
  19. "Simmons among nine honorary degree recipients". Brown University. 16 May 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Media offices
Preceded by
Charles Gibson
ABC World News anchor
December 21, 2009–August 27, 2014
Succeeded by
David Muir
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