Lesley Stahl

Lesley Rene Stahl[1] (born December 16, 1941) is an American television journalist.

Lesley Stahl
Lesley Stahl (cropped).jpg
Stahl at the LBJ Presidential Library in 2010
Born (1941-12-16) December 16, 1941 (age 78)
Alma materWheaton College
OccupationNews reporter
Years active1972–present
Notable credit(s)
60 Minutes (1991–present)
Jeffrey Gordon
m. 1964; div. 1967)

m. 1977)

She has spent most of her career with CBS News, where she began as a producer in 1971.[2] Since 1991, she has reported for CBS's 60 Minutes.[3]

Early life and educationEdit

Stahl was born in 1941 to a Jewish family[4] in Lynn, Massachusetts, and was raised in Swampscott, Massachusetts. She is the daughter of Dorothy J. (née Tishler), and Louis E. Stahl, a food company executive.[1][4][5] She attended Wheaton College where she was an honors graduate, majoring in history.[6]


Stahl began her television broadcasting career at Boston's original Channel 5, WHDH-TV, as a producer and on-air reporter.[7] She joined CBS News in 1971, 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."[8] Stahl credits her CBS News hire to the Federal Communications Commission's 1972 inclusion of women in its affirmative 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.'"[9] According to Stahl, Connie Chung and Bernard Shaw were "the two other 'affirmative action babies' in what became known as the Class of '72."[10] 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 was the mentor of CBS news producer Susan Zirinsky.[11]

Stahl and her family with President Ronald Reagan in 1986

Stahl's prominence grew after she covered Watergate. "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."[12]

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 Gerald 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 to 2004. 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.[13][14] 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 wife, Cécilia.

Stahl in 1998

In 1998, she appeared on the NBC sitcom Frasier, playing herself in the episode "Desperately Seeking Closure". In 2014, she served as a correspondent for Years of Living Dangerously, a documentary show about climate change.[15]

Stahl has written two books, the first of which, Reporting Live, 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.[16]

Her second book, Becoming Grandma: The Joys and Science of the New Grandparenting, which chronicles her own experiences with her grandchildren, was published in 2016.

Lesley Stahl hosting the 67th Annual Peabody Awards

She received a Doctorate of Humane Letters honoris causa from Colgate University in 2008[17] and a Doctorate of Humane Letters honoris causa from Loyola College in Maryland in 2008.

Lesley Stahl was a founding member in 2008, along with Liz Smith, Mary Wells Lawrence, and Joni Evans, of wowOwow.com, a website for "women over 40" to talk about culture, politics, and gossip.[18] By the end of 2010 it had merged into PureWow, a Web site aimed at younger women.

She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.[19]

Stahl is on the Board of Selectors of Jefferson Awards for Public Service.[20]

Career timelineEdit

Personal lifeEdit

In 1977, Stahl married author Aaron Latham; they have a daughter.[24]

On the May 3, 2020 broadcast of 60 Minutes, Stahl revealed that she had been hospitalized with COVID-19.[25]




  • Stahl, Lesley (1999). Reporting Live. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-684-82930-2.
  • Stahl, Lesley (2016). Becoming grandma : the joys and science of the new grandparenting. Blue Rider Press. ISBN 978-0-399-16815-4.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Lesley Stahl Biography (1941-)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2009-05-01.
  2. ^ Gutgold, Nichola D. (2008). Seen and Heard: The Women of Television News. Lexington Books. ISBN 978-0-7391-2018-7.
  3. ^ "Lesley Stahl". www.cbsnews.com. Retrieved 2019-12-20.
  4. ^ a b Smilgis, Martha (1977-10-31). "CBS Anchor Lesley Stahl and Writer Aaron Latham Have a Mixed-Media Marriage". People.com. Retrieved 2009-05-01.
  5. ^ "Louis E. Stahl, Executive and Philanthropist, 80". The New York Times. 1994-09-01. p. D19. Retrieved 2009-05-01.
  6. ^ Donna Lee, "Facts Come First for Lady Reporter," Boston Herald American, November 26, 1976, p. 14
  7. ^ Anthony LaCamera, "Of People and Programs." Boston Herald, September 30, 1974, p. 10.
  8. ^ "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
  9. ^ 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
  10. ^ Stahl, Lesley (1999). Reporting Live. Simon & Schuster. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-684-82930-2.
  11. ^ Auletta, Ken (February 28, 2005). "Sign-Off". The New Yorker. New York City: Conde Nast. Retrieved March 11, 2018.
  12. ^ Stahl, Lesley (1999). Reporting Live. New York City: Simon & Schuster. pp. 619–622. ISBN 978-0-684-82930-2.
  13. ^ "Katie Couric Learns What Happens When Great Expectations Go Unmet – New York Magazine". Nymag.com. 2007-07-16. Retrieved 2009-05-01.
  14. ^ "TV Guide Reports on TV Star Salary Ranges – Today's News: Our Take". TVGuide.com. 2007-07-26. Retrieved 2009-05-01.
  15. ^ ""Years of Living Dangerously" Correspondent". Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  16. ^ "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.
  17. ^ "Lesley Stahl of CBS to deliver commencement address". 2008-02-21. Retrieved 2008-05-18.
  18. ^ Josh Getlin (2008-03-15). "What do women want? New site has ideas". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2018-03-31. Retrieved 2018-03-31.
  19. ^ "2009 Annual Report of the Council on Foreign Relations" (PDF).
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 24, 2010. Retrieved December 5, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ a b c "Lesley Stahl | September 29, 2005 14:30:28". CBS News. 1998-07-09. Retrieved 2009-05-01.
  22. ^ Lesley Stahl on IMDb
  23. ^ "2004 Winners". UCLA Anderson School of Management. Archived from the original on August 26, 2012 – via Internet Archive.
  24. ^ People Magazine: "CBS Anchor Lesley Stahl and Writer Aaron Latham Have a Mixed-Media Marriage" By Martha Smilgis October 31, 1977
  25. ^ Stetler, Brian (May 4, 2020). "CBS News' Lesley Stahl recovers from Covid-19". Retrieved July 12, 2020.

External linksEdit

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