Diane Sawyer is an ABC News anchor, tackling some of the biggest issues of our time in new ways with original reporting, primetime specials, long form interviews and in-depth investigations. One of the most respected journalists in the world, she has traveled the globe delivering in-depth and breaking news reports, and has conducted interviews with almost every major newsmaker of our time. Her primetime documentaries have won critical acclaim for shedding light on difficult and previously under-reported topics, including her in-depth reporting on the U.S. foster care system and realities of poverty in America.
From 2009 to 2014, Sawyer was the anchor of “World News with Diane Sawyer,” leading ABC’s flagship broadcast to new heights.
In 2014, as they have throughout her unparalleled career, newsmakers turned to Sawyer first to share their stories. Former Secretary of State, Senator and First Lady Hillary Clinton sat down with Sawyer in the first televised interview on her book, Hard Choices. She interviewed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in his first interview since his January press conference on the George Washington Bridge lane closure. Earlier this year, her one-hour special, “Young Guns” with David Muir, provided a revealing look at young kids with access to unlocked guns. This year, Sawyer helped lead ABC News to win an Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence in Television.
At key moments in 2013, Sawyer interviewed Malala Yousafzai, the girl shot in the head by Taliban assassins because she wanted to go to school, President Barack Obama as he made the case for military strikes in Syria, Amanda Knox, the college junior who became the center of a dramatic murder trial in Italy, and President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush on the eve of the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
Sawyer anchored live coverage on ABC News during the biggest news stories of 2013, including the aftermath of the bombing at the Boston Marathon, from the Vatican during the historic transition to a new Pope, and in Washington, DC for the 2013 Presidential Inauguration.
In May, as part of her acclaimed and award-winning “Hidden America” series, Sawyer reported from Strawberry Mansion, one of the most dangerous schools in the United States for the last five years. With unprecedented access inside the Philadelphia high school, Sawyer gave viewers an up close look at what it’s like to teach, to learn and to try to gain a foothold in life there, resulting in a Deadline Club Award win for ABC News.
Throughout 2012, Sawyer anchored ABC’s “Your Voice, Your Vote” coverage of the Presidential elections with Chief Political correspondent George Stephanopoulos. Together they moderated the most-watched debate of the election cycle in Des Moines, Iowa, and a debate in New Hampshire just days before the Granite State’s first-in-the-nation primary. Sawyer interviewed the Presidential candidates at key moments throughout the campaign, including the first interview with Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, after he secured the Republican nomination in April 2012, and the first interview with President Obama after the pivotal first Presidential debate in October.
In 2011, Sawyer sat down for exclusive interviews with some of the year’s biggest newsmakers, including Commander Mark Kelly in the wake of the tragic shooting of his wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in Tucson, AZ, Donald Rumsfeld in his first interview since leaving the Bush Administration, the first interview with Jaycee Dugard, and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who shared her remarkable story of recovery for the first time since the tragic shooting in Tucson. In addition, Sawyer brought viewers audio recordings of the never-before-heard interviews with former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy recorded in the months after her husband’s assassination and spoke exclusively with Caroline Kennedy. In June, she conducted the first joint interview with outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and General David Petraeus in Afghanistan, and conducted the first interview with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after the U.S. took military action in Libya.
When Japan was hit with a devastating combination of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear emergency in March 2011, Sawyer was the only evening news anchor to report on the aftermath live from Japan – shining a light on the stories of those who were directly affected. In November 2010, she took “World News” on a rare trip to China, traveling from Shanghai to Beijing, she reported on the progress the Chinese have made in the areas of education, transportation and green technologies. During the summer of 2010, when controversy over the building of an Islamic community center near Ground Zero sparked a nationwide conversation about Islam, Sawyer anchored a special primetime hour, “Diane Sawyer Reporting: Islam Questions & Answers,” to address misconceptions about Muslims and the religion of Islam.
Sawyer kicked off her tenure at “World News” in December 2009 by traveling to Copenhagen, where she confronted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. In January 2010, she reported the latest installment of “Afghanistan: Where Things Stand.” She travelled with General Stanley McChrystal as he surveyed the battlefield and sat down with Afghan President Hamid Karzai for his first interview after his highly contested reelection. From Afghanistan Sawyer traveled to Haiti to cover the aftermath of the devastating earthquake.
During the historic presidential election in 2008, Sawyer co-anchored ABC News’ coverage of the political conventions, Election Night and the Inauguration. Over the course of the campaign, she conducted wide-ranging interviews with the candidates and also reported “Portrait of a President,” two hour-long specials that revealed new insight into Barack Obama, John McCain and their families. In June 2009, along with Charles Gibson, Sawyer moderated “Questions for the President: Prescription for America,” a conversation with President Obama about healthcare reform at the White House.
Through her distinguished documentary work, Sawyer has tackled challenging issues in primetime. In 2006, her report on the crisis in the foster care system was recognized with the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. In December 2011, after a year-long investigation, she aired another startling report on the overmedication of children in the foster care system. In January 2007, Sawyer delivered an eye-opening report on poverty in America, “Waiting on the World to Change,” which gave viewers insight into the lives of families in Camden, New Jersey – the poorest city in America. She and her team of producers spent two years in the hills of Appalachia reporting the February 2009 special, “A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains,” which won a Peabody Award and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. In 2011, Sawyer continued her in-depth reporting on poverty in America focusing on the American Indian population with “A Hidden America: Children of the Plains.”
In October 2012, Sawyer documented the violence plaguing Chicago – America’s third-largest city – in “Hidden America: Don’t Shoot I Want to Grow Up.” In addition to extensive reporting from a war-torn community, she facilitated a solutions-based discussion between members of several rival gangs to see what, if anything, can be done to reverse the alarming pattern of violence and murder in the streets.
Under Sawyer’s leadership “Hidden America” has expanded into an ongoing series of reports across ABC News to shine a light on the people, places and stories of struggle and hope that are not well known or apparent to many in America. The reports also spotlight the creative and innovative actions of some extraordinary Americans to help people in their communities.
Sawyer’s other primetime documentaries include an investigation into the warehousing of Russian children in state-run orphanages, a diary of life inside a women’s maximum security prison, where she spent two days and nights with inmates, an investigation into the neglect and abuse at state-run institutions for the mentally handicapped, and a landmark investigation into pharmacy prescription errors.
In October 2006, Sawyer traveled to North Korea and brought viewers an unprecedented look inside that secretive country. The first American journalist to ever report live from North Korea, she also anchored “North Korea: Inside the Shadows,” an hour-long primetime special that included interviews with key government and military officials and new information on what life is like for North Koreans. In February of 2007, she traveled to Syria and Iran, where she conducted exclusive interviews with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In April 2008, she anchored “Good Morning America” from Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.
Sawyer also reported from Southeast Asia in the wake of the deadly 2005 tsunami, from Moscow, where she made her way into the office of Boris Yeltsin at the pinnacle of the Soviet coup, from Egypt during the Gulf War, where she interviewed President Hosni Mubarak, and Amman, Jordan, where she interviewed King Hussein and Queen Noor. During the Iraq War, she conducted an exclusive interview with one of the main architects of Saddam Hussein’s biological weapons program, Dr. Rihab Taha, nicknamed “Dr. Germ.”
Back home in the U.S., Sawyer reported from New Orleans on the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the fall of 2005. She also conducted a live, exclusive interview with President George W. Bush in the midst of widespread criticism of his Administration’s handling of the storm.
On September 11, 2001, along with Charles Gibson, Sawyer began the network’s award-winning coverage of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In the days that followed, she reported live from Ground Zero and later interviewed more than 60 widows who gave birth after the World Trade Center disaster.
Sawyer’s reporting has been recognized with numerous awards, including duPonts, Emmys, Peabodys, the grand prize of the premier Investigative Reporters and Editors Association, an IRTS Lifetime Achievement Award, and the USC Distinguished Achievement in Journalism Award. In 1997 she was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.
Sawyer joined ABC News in February 1989 as co-anchor of “Primetime.” In addition to that role, she was named co-anchor of “Good Morning America” in January 1999, and held the post until taking over the “World News” anchor chair in December 2009.
Prior to joining ABC News, Sawyer spent nine years at CBS News, making history as the first female correspondent of “60 Minutes.” She also co-anchored the “CBS Morning News” and was CBS News’ State Department correspondent. While at CBS she covered the 1980, ’84 and ’88 national conventions as a floor and then podium correspondent.
Sawyer was part of the President Nixon transition team from 1974 to 1975 and assisted Nixon in the writing of his memoirs in 1974 and 1975. She began her career in broadcasting in 1967 in Louisville, Kentucky, where she was a reporter for WLKY-TV until 1970.
A native of Glasgow, Kentucky, and raised in Louisville, Sawyer received a BA from Wellesley College and completed a semester of law school before embarking on a career in broadcasting.