NBC News
updated 3/1/2006 1:30:20 PM ET 2006-03-01T18:30:20

Lea Thompson is NBC’s Chief Consumer Correspondent. She is known for her hard-hitting investigative pieces particularly focused on consumer, health, safety and environmental issues.

Thompson's Dateline segments continue a long tradition of giving viewers an inside look at subjects that affect their everyday lives. Her work continues to bring about change.

Thompson’s stories on Dateline NBC brought about new warning labels on Infant Tylenol and new procedures at Sears to keep used batteries from being sold as new.  Her work brought about legislation in California requiring all bedding and mattresses be flame retardant and all home health aides have background checks. West Virginia’s Attorney General forced two water filter companies out of business, North Carolina’s AG cracked down on a huge auto dealer chain, South Carolina’s AG says many Irish Travelers have been jailed – all as the result of Lea's Dateline stories. South Carolina’s legislature, after Thompson’s landmark investigation of the Irish Travelers, passed a law making it illegal for very young Travelers to marry older men. Some of the nation's largest grocery stores adopted new policies following Dateline's discovery of adulterated ground beef and a quack U.S. doctor has been thrown out of the Dominican Republic. Burger King launched a clean up campaign after Thompson’s Dateline story showed it to be the “dirtiest” fast food chain. As a result of Thompson’s Dateline stories, unsafe toys have been removed from shelves and her segments are being used as training films by the Secret Service, police departments, banks, home care agencies, auto dealers and the shellfish industry.

Lea Thompson is a journalist who makes a difference. Her work was the driving force behind three acts of Congress. Her Peabody Award-winning "Deadly Mistakes" was an investigation into doctors' office errors that cause unnecessary surgery and death. It helped bring about the Medical Laboratory Improvement Act of 1988. Her National Emmy winning investigation of children being harmed by the DPT vaccine not only helped bring about the passage of the Vaccine Compensation Act of 1987, but, Thompson is also widely credited for bringing about the use of a new DPT vaccine in this country. The Infant Formula Act of 1980 followed her testimony before Congress about her discovery that some children had been brain damaged by their baby formulas (Columbia duPont Award).

Thompson’s story on hairdryers emitted cancer-causing asbestos helped bring about the recall of twenty-five million hairdryers. Some companies changed their vitamin formulations after testing showed their pills passed through the body so fast they could do you no good and Thompson’s story on faulty defibrillators led to an FDA investigation that eventually shutdown the largest defibrillator maker in the country.

In total, Thompson’s reports have initiated more than two dozen Congressional and governmental agency hearings and prompted investigations by dozens of federal, state and local governments.

In her career, Lea Thompson has won every major journalism award in broadcasting, including: two Peabodys, two George Polks, a Columbia duPont, a Loeb, a National Emmy and a number of National Emmy nominations for investigative reporting. She is also the recipient of the Edward R. Murrow Award, multiple National Headliner and National Press Club Awards and 23 Washington Regional Emmies. She has won numerous Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) awards and dozens of other broadcast and civic awards, including Washingtonian of the Year. She has received lifetime achievement awards from the Consumer Federation of America, and the Advocates of Highway and Auto Safety and awards from the hard-of-hearing, state dam safety engineers, optometrists, vaccine safety advocates and law enforcement.

Two books feature Lea Thompson and her work. The Babymaker (Nelson, 1994) details how Lea and producer Rick Nelson exposed Dr. Cecil Jacobson, the fertility doctor who fathered dozens of children by using his own sperm. DPT: Shot in the Dark (Coleman/Fisher, 1984) tells of her discoveries about the DPT vaccine. Lea's investigative stories have also spawned a few made-for-TV movies

Before coming to Dateline in 1992, Thompson was at WRC-TV, NBC's owned station in Washington, D.C. where she headed the Consumer Unit and co-headed the Investigative Unit and for seven years co-anchored WRC-Tv newscasts. During much of that time she was also a Contributing Correspondent to NBC News' Today and NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, Thompson also produced and hosted a weekly half-hour magazine show, Byline: Lea Thompson.

She started in broadcasting in the editorial department at WRC-TV. A native of Wisconsin, she is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Thompson lives in Maryland with her husband, Durke, a Circuit Court Judge. She has three daughters: Tisha (a reporter at WMAR-TV in Baltimore), Katrina (an art consultant in New York) and Tenley (University of Wisconsin).

Lea Thompson is Dateline NBC, NBC, and MSNBC's chief consumer correspondent. She is known for her hard-hitting investigative pieces particularly focused on consumer, health and safety issues. 
          
Thompson's Dateline segments on stories such as sweepstakes, retail scanning machines, vehicle safety crashes, airline security, home health care, check fraud, carnival games, fortune tellers and auto theft continue a long tradition of giving viewers an inside look at subjects that affect everyday life.

As a result of Thompson's Dateline stories, new procedures have been enforced at Sears to keep used batteries from being sold as new, and some of the nation's largest grocery stores have adopted new policies for checking ground beef. Thompson's stories have resulted in new warning labels on Infant Tylenol containers and the removal of many unsafe toys from store shelves. Her story on hairdryers emitting cancer-causing asbestos resulted in the recall of twenty-five million hairdryers, and her story on faulty defibrillators led to an FDA investigation that eventually shutdown the largest defibrillator maker in the country.

Thompson's work has brought about landmark legislation in California requiring that all bedding and mattresses be flame retardant and requiring background checks on home health aides. Because of Thompson's Dateline story on the Irish Travelers, South Carolina passed a law making it illegal for very young travelers to marry older men. Thompson's segments are also used as training films by the Secret Service, police departments, banks, home care agencies and the shellfish industry.

Thompson's work was the driving force behind three acts of Congress. Her Peabody Award-winning "RX for Death" was an investigation into doctors' office errors that caused unnecessary surgery and death. It helped bring about the Medical Laboratory Improvement Act of 1988. Her National Emmy winning investigation of children who were harmed by the DPT vaccine helped bring about the passage of the Vaccine Compensation Act of 1987, as well as the use of a new DPT vaccine in this country. The Infant Formula Act of 1980 followed Thompson's testimony before Congress about her discovery that some children suffered brain damaged from their baby formulas.

In total, Thompson's reports have initiated more than two dozen congressional and governmental agency hearings and prompted investigations not only by the FTC and FCC, but also the U.S. Postal Service, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the General Accounting Office, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Departments of State, Education, Health and Human Services, Agriculture and Labor and many state and local governments.

Throughout her career, Thompson has won every major journalism award in broadcasting, including two Peabodys, two George Polk Awards, a Columbia duPont Award, a Loeb, a National Emmy and 23 Washington Emmys. She has won numerous IRE Awards, National Headliners, Clarion Awards, National Press Club awards, and she has been the recipient of dozens of civic awards, including the Washingtonian of the Year. She has also received lifetime achievement awards from the Consumer Federation of America and Advocates of Highway and Auto Safety. Thompson's in-depth reports have been the subject a few made-for-TV movies, and two books, The Babymaker (Nelson, 1994) and DPT: Shot in the Dark (Coleman/Fisher, 1984) feature Thompson's investigative work.

Before joining Dateline, Thompson was at WRC-TV, NBC's owned station in Washington, D.C. where she headed the Consumer Unit and co-headed the Investigative Unit. During much of that time she was also a contributing correspondent to NBC News' Today and NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, and for seven years, she co-anchored WRC-TV newscasts. Thompson also produced and hosted a weekly half-hour magazine show, Byline: Lea Thompson.

Thompson started in broadcasting in the editorial department at WRC-TV. She is a native of Wisconsin and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Thompson lives in Potomac, Md. with her husband, Durke, who is a Maryland Circuit Court Judge. She has three daughters: Laetitia, a reporter/anchor at WPSD-TV, Katrina, who attends the University of Glascow-Christie's Education in London, and Tenley, who attends the University of Wisconsin.

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