Lesley Stahl

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Lesley Stahl
Lesley Stahl.jpg
Lesley Stahl at the LBJ Presidential Library in 2010
Born Lesley Rene Stahl
(1941-12-16) December 16, 1941 (age 76)
Lynn, Massachusetts,
United States
Occupation News reporter
Years active 1983–present
Notable credit(s) 60 Minutes (1991–present)
Spouse(s) Jeffrey Gordon (1964-?; divorced)
Aaron Latham (m. 1977)

Lesley Rene Stahl[1] (born December 16, 1941) is an American television journalist. Since 1991, she has reported for CBS on 60 Minutes.

Personal life

Stahl was born in Lynn, Massachusetts, and raised in Swampscott, Massachusetts. She is of Jewish heritage, the daughter of Dorothy J. (née Tishler), and Louis E. Stahl, a food company executive.[1][2][3] In 1977, Stahl married author Aaron Latham. They have one child, Taylor Stahl Latham. The couple currently live in New York.


An honors graduate of Wheaton College who majored in History,[4] Stahl began her television broadcasting career at Boston's original Channel 5, WHDH-TV as a producer and on-air reporter.[5] She joined CBS News in 1972, and became a correspondent in 1974. "I was born on my 30th birthday," Stahl would later write about the experience. "Everything up till then was prenatal."[6] Stahl credits her CBS News hire to the Federal Communication Commission's 1972 inclusion of women in its affirmation action mandate: "the television networks were scouring the country for women and blacks with any news experience at all. A friend in New York had called to tell me about a memo floating around CBS News mandating that 'the next reporter we hire will be a woman.'"[7] According to Stahl, Connie Chung and Bernard Shaw were "the two other 'affirmative action babies' in what became known as the Class of '72."[8] Stahl reflected in an interview on her early days at CBS how, on the night of the '72 Nixon-McGovern election returns, she found her on-air studio chair marked with masking tape, not with her name as with her colleagues, but with "Female."

Stahl's prominence grew after she covered the Watergate affair.[9] She went on to become White House correspondent during the presidencies of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. At the Republican Convention of 1980, she broke the news on CBS that Reagan's negotiations with ex-President Ford had broken down and the answer to the question of who would be vice-presidential nominee was: "It's Bush! Yes, it's Bush!" George H. W. Bush had been standing perhaps not far away, largely off by himself, looking discouraged because he was sure he wasn't going to be chosen.

Stahl was the moderator of Face the Nation between September 1983 and May 1991. In addition, she hosted 48 Hours Investigates from 2002-04. In 2002, Stahl made headlines when Al Gore appeared on 60 Minutes and revealed for the first time that he would not run for president again in 2004. When Katie Couric was hired, CBS News asked Stahl to reduce her salary by $500,000 to accommodate Couric's salary, bringing her salary down to $1.8 million.[10][11] In October 2007 Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France, stood up and walked away from an interview with Stahl because she asked him about his relationship with his soon-to-be estranged spouse.[12]

In 1998, she appeared in an episode of Frasier, playing herself in the episode "Desperately Seeking Closure."

Stahl has written one book, Reporting Live, which was published in 1999:

I had decided by August 1989, in my 48th year, that I had already had the best day of my life. [. . .] Then we went to Rwanda to see the mountain gorillas, Dian Fossey's gorillas in the mist. [. . .] After two and a half hours [. . .] there they were: two baby gorillas frolicking like any four-year-olds. We snapped and stared. We were right there, in their lives, in the middle of their open-air house. And then the silverback, the patriarch, seemed to welcome us, as three females kept grooming him. [. . .] We spent one hour in their world, watching them tumble and wrestle, nurse their babies, swing in the trees, forage for food—vines, leaves, berries— [. . .] so close that a female reached out to touch me. When I went to reciprocate, the guide hit my arm with a stick. "Non, madame. C'est inderdit." [. . .] What I decided that day with the gorillas in Rwanda was that the best day of your life may not have happened yet. No matter what you think.[13]

Lesley Stahl hosting the 67th Annual Peabody Awards

She received a Doctorate of Humane Letters honoris causa from Colgate University in 2008[14] and a Doctorate of Humane Letters honoris causa from Loyola College in Maryland in 2008.

Lesley Stahl is one of the founding members, along with Liz Smith, Mary Wells Lawrence, and Joni Evans, of wowOwow.com, a website for women to talk about culture, politics, and gossip[citation needed].

She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.[15]

Stahl is on the Board of Selectors of Jefferson Awards for Public Service.[16]

Career timeline

Interviewing General Raymond Odierno for 60 Minutes in Sadr City, 2008.


  • Stahl, Lesley (1999). Reporting Live. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-82930-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Lesley Stahl Biography (1941-)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2009-05-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Smilgis, Martha (1977-10-31). "CBS Anchor Lesley Stahl and Writer Aaron Latham Have a Mixed-Media Marriage". People.com. Retrieved 2009-05-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Louis E. Stahl, Executive and Philanthropist, 80 - The". New York Times. 1994-09-01. Retrieved 2009-05-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Donna Lee, "Facts Come First for Lady Reporter," Boston Herald American, November 26, 1976, p. 14
  5. Anthony LaCamera, "Of People and Programs." Boston Herald, September 30, 1974, p. 10.
  6. "I was born on my 30th birthday. Everything up till then was prenatal. By 30 I knew two things for sure. One was that I wanted to be a journalist, which would mean, in the environment of the early 1970s, surmounting my femaleness and my blondness." Stahl, Lesley. Reporting Live, Simon & Schuster, 1999, opening paragraph; citation from the unabridged Large Print edition, G. K. Hall & Co., Thorndike, Maine, 1999, p. 9. ISBN 0-684-82930-4
  7. Stahl, Lesley. Reporting Live, Simon & Schuster, 1999; citation from the unabridged Large Print edition, G. K. Hall & Co., Thorndike, Maine, 1999, p. 10. ISBN 0-684-82930-4
  8. Stahl, Lesley. Reporting Live, Simon & Schuster, 1999; citation from the unabridged Large Print edition, G. K. Hall & Co., Thorndike, Maine, 1999, p. 13. ISBN 0-684-82930-4
  9. "I found an apartment in the Watergate complex, moved all my stuff from Boston, and didn't miss a day of work. [. . .] June 1972. Most of the reporters in our bureau were on the road, covering the presidential campaign. Thus, I was sent out to cover the arrest of some men who had broken into one of the buildings in the Watergate complex. That CBS let me, the newest hire, hold on to Watergate as an assignment was a measure of how unimportant the story seemed: [. . .] I was the only television reporter covering the early court appearances. When the five Watergate burglars asked for a bail reduction, I got my first scoop. Unlike my competitors, I was able to identify them. The next time the cameraman listened when I said, 'Roll! That's them!' And so CBS was the only network to get pictures of the burglars. I was a hero at the bureau." Stahl, Lesley. Reporting Live, Simon & Schuster, 1999; citation from the unabridged Large Print edition, G. K. Hall & Co., Thorndike, Maine, 1999, pp. 18-19. ISBN 0-684-82930-4
  10. "Katie Couric Learns What Happens When Great Expectations Go Unmet - New York Magazine". Nymag.com. 2007-07-16. Retrieved 2009-05-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "TV Guide Reports on TV Star Salary Ranges - Today's News: Our Take". TVGuide.com. 2007-07-26. Retrieved 2009-05-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Sarkozy L'Americain (Sarkozy The American), 60 Minutes, CBS, 10.28.2007
  13. "When we got to the base of the mountain, we were put in a group of eight. 'How old are these children?' asked the head of the Mountain Gorilla Project, pointing to 12-year-old Taylor [Stahl's daughter] and ten-year-old Matthew [Stahl's nephew]. 'Fifteen,' we lied. Anyone younger was barred from contact with the gorillas to protect them from human childhood diseases. Taylor passed, but even though we had put glasses on Matthew and draped our most expensive camera around his neck, they pulled him out of the group. Jeff [Stahl's brother] stayed behind with him." Stahl, Lesley. Reporting Live, Simon & Schuster, 1999; citation from the unabridged Large Print edition, G. K. Hall & Co., Thorndike, Maine, 1999, pp. 619-622. ISBN 0-684-82930-4
  14. "Lesley Stahl of CBS to deliver commencement address". 2008-02-21. Retrieved 2008-05-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. 2009 Annual Report of the Council on Foreign Relations
  16. http://www.jeffersonawards.org/board
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 "Lesley Stahl | September 29, 2005 14:30:28". CBS News. 1998-07-09. Retrieved 2009-05-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Lesley Stahl at the Internet Movie Database

External links

Media offices
Preceded by
George Herman
Face the Nation Moderator
September 18, 1983 – May 19, 1991
Succeeded by
Bob Schieffer