Diane Sawyer(Lila Diane Sawyer born December 22, 1945) is the current anchor of ABC News’ flagship program, ABC World News. Previously, Sawyer had been co-anchor of ABC News’s morning news program, Good Morning America (GMA).
Born in Glasgow, Kentucky, Diane Sawyer is the daughter of Jean W. Sawyer (née Dunagan) – an elementary school teacher – and Erbon Powers “Tom” Sawyer, a judge.Her ancestry includes English, Irish, Scots-Irish, and German. Soon after her birth, her family moved to Louisville, Kentucky, 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.
Right after her graduation, Sawyer went back to Kentucky and got a job as weather forecaster for the WLKY-TV news in Louisville. In Sawyer’s opinion, the weather was boring, so she would add quotes every now and then to keep it interesting. Finally, Sawyer was promoted to general assignment, but this could not sustain her interest for long. In 1970, Sawyer moved to Washington D.C. and, unable to find work as a broadcast journalist, she made the rounds in government offices. She eventually found a job as an assistant to Jerry Warren, the White House deputy press secretary. She was at first assigned to write press releases and quickly graduated to more demanding tasks like drafting some of President Richard Nixon’s public statements. In a few months, she was hired as administrative assistant to White House Press Secretary, Ron Ziegler and eventually to staff assistant for U.S. President Richard Nixon. 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.
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 she was one of six people to request and receive a public denial from Woodward.
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; Sawyer became a fixture on the weekday broadcasts of Morning With Charles Kuralt. When CBS decided to expand its morning news show from sixty minutes to ninety minutes in 1981, they were looking for a co-anchor as well. So on May 13, 1981, the president of CBS News announced that Sawyer would be the new co-anchor; when she debuted on September 28, 1981, she put her own stamp on the broadcast. 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 slid and Sawyer asked to be reassigned.
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 almost always ranked among the top five most-watched in the country.
In 1989, she moved to ABC News to co-anchor newsmagazine Primetime Live with Sam Donaldson. From 1998 to 2000, she co-anchored ABC’s 20/20, also a newsmagazine, co-anchoring on Wednesdays with Donaldson and on Sundays with Barbara Walters.
In 1999, Sawyer returned to morning news as the co-anchor of GMA 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. The GMA program has never regained the lost viewers, nor beaten its early morning competition since Joan Lunden retired after 17 years as co-host in 1997.
On September 2, 2009, Sawyer was announced as the successor to Gibson, who retired as ABC World News anchor 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.For over a year in 2010–2011, with Katie Couric then anchor of CBS News, two of the three network news anchors on broadcast television were women. Ratings initially rose 8% after Sawyer’s first four weeks, averaging 8.8 million viewers. She signs off at the end of her nightly broadcast with “I’ll see you right back here tomorrow night.” The show, like its competitor evening newscasts, ended the year with ratings 14% below that of the preceding year. To this day in 2013, she is the anchor of ABC’s flagship broadcast World News and the network’s principal anchor for breaking news, election coverage, and special events.
In 2001 she was named one of the thirty most-powerful women in America by the Ladies’ Home Journal. In 2007 she ranked 62nd on “Forbes Magazine’s List of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women”. She has won multiple awards, including a 2009 Peabody Award for her work on A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains. She also won a Robert F. Kennedy award for journalism, 3 Emmy awards for broadcast journalism, and was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame in 1994.
Sawyer has interviewed many political figures including U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. She conducted the first interview with U.S. President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton after his first election to the presidency in 1992.
On February 12, 2007, she interviewed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
On November 14, 2011, Diane secured another exclusive by being the first person to interview Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, ten months after she survived an assassination attempt. Sawyer spent the day with the wounded politician and her husband Mark Kelly, and observed Giffords during a speech therapy session. Diane since told People Magazine, “Of all the people I’ve interviewed, she’s right there at the top.”
She has also interviewed:
Fidel Castro, President of Cuba
Robert McNamara, U.S. Secretary of Defense
Manuel Noriega, general and the military dictator of Panama from 1983 to 1989
Nancy Pelosi, the first female Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
Richard Nixon, President of the United States
Nancy Reagan, First Lady of the United States
Hyman G. Rickover, U.S. Admiral
Antonin Scalia, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice
Jaycee Lee Dugard
In 2006 she spent a week in North Korea and opened Good Morning America with a live shot from Pyongyang.
From the entertainment world, Sawyer has interviewed, especially as a host of GMA:
Clay Aiken, singer (interviewed twice)
Bobby Brown, singer
Ellen DeGeneres, comedian
Diana Ross, singer (interviewed twice)
Dixie Chicks, country-music group
Michael J. Fox, actor
Mel Gibson, actor (interviewed twice)
Whitney Houston, singer
Winona Ryder, actress
Michael Jackson, singer
Roman Polanski, film director
Lisa Marie Presley, singer-songwriter
Britney Spears, singer
Brian Wilson, musician (The Beach Boys)
Meryl Streep, actress
Sawyer also interviewed drug kingpin Rayful Edmond III of Washington, D.C., in 1989 and once again in 1997 on 60 Minutes.
On April 29, 1988, she and Mike Nichols, a film director, were married. They have no children. Nichols has 3 from previous marriages: Daisy, born in 1964; Max, born in 1974; and Jenny, born in 1977. Sawyer had previously had relationships with Frank Gannon, a Nixon aide, and Richard Holbrooke, a U.S diplomat.