Mika: Cokie Roberts was my 'north star'

The veteran broadcast journalist passed away on Monday at the age of 75. Mika Brzezinski pays tribute to her legacy.
Cokie Roberts on "Morning Joe" in 2016.
Cokie Roberts on "Morning Joe" in 2016.Miller Hawkins

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By Mika Brzezinski

As a young reporter, Cokie Roberts was my north star.

I was raised in Washington D.C., enveloped by government. Cabinet members and congressmen regularly dined at our house. In fact, in the 1970’s I suffered the mortification of spilling caviar on the crotch of the leader of China when a historic state dinner was held at our farmhouse in McLean, Virginia.

As I worked my way up the journalism ladder, I wondered how I could balance objective reporting with my background. From my perspective, government officials weren’t perfect, but I knew most approached public service with honorable intentions and were trying to serve their country. Yes, some went astray, but it was unfair to approach all of Washington with a jaundiced eye.

Cokie Roberts had mastered this dynamic. She had grown up as Washington royalty—both parents served in Congress – and knew the players and personalities better than anyone. She used this knowledge to educate her viewers, readers and listeners. No one covered a crucial Senate confirmation battle better than Cokie; she understood the process thoroughly and as a result could provide crystal-clear analysis.

When Cokie visited the "Morning Joe" set a year ago, it indeed felt like royalty was in our presence. But she put us all at ease and while she had the bearing of a queen, she was incredibly warm and kind to everyone. We were all in awe and also fell in love.

And now, along with so many others, we are heartbroken.