Norah O'Donnell, the third woman to take over the CBS Evening News anchor chair, tells AARP how she moved the show to her hometown, “the center of gravity,” and how it affects her family.
What she asks herself before every broadcast
"How can we provide context? How can we provide depth? Clarity? How can we further the understanding and just get beyond a political tit for tat? How can we dive deep into policy decisions?” I've covered six presidential elections, and most people care about their health care; extreme weather; the rising cost of education; how they can send their kids to the right schools. The broadcast will deal a lot with breaking news, but exploring real issues of humanity — the things that connect us.
Hometown: Washington, D.C.
Newsy credits: 60 Minutes; CBS This Morning; Weekend Today; Dateline NBC; NBC Nightly News; Hardball with Chris Matthews; The Chris Matthews Show
Big Move: O’Donnell and the CBS Evening News will relocate to Washington, D.C., in November 2019. A new studio is being built at the network’s D.C. headquarters for the flagship broadcast.
Family: Three preteen children and a husband, Washington, D.C., restaurant owner and chef Geoff Tracy
Interview bucket list: “World leaders, presidential candidates, authors and musicians, or people you may not know that are making an incredible difference in their community. In terms of names, Kim Jong Un is at the top of my list.”
Being a female groundbreaker
We certainly bring a perspective from where we came from and who we are. I spent 20 years as a journalist covering Congress, the White House and the Pentagon; that has prepared me for this role. I do think that the 21st century is going to be the century for women.
Moving her clan from New York to D.C.
That will be a change, but I grew up in a military family, and we moved around a lot. And that helped me become adaptable and flexible, and taught me to be able to talk to different people. Growing up in a military family is why I became a journalist. It exposed me to so many different stories. I was born at Walter Reed [Hospital]. I went to Georgetown University. I married my college sweetheart, and my three children were born in Washington. I feel like I'm coming home.
Cooking up a second book
We had a New York Times best-selling cookbook called Baby Love, about making fresh baby food for your kids. We would like to do another cookbook about the family kitchen, because so many people ask us, “What do you cook for your family?” And we have pretty basic recipes that are win-wins in our house, even with some picky eaters. We're in various stages of completing the book.
The kids in the kitchen
The teens are all into Cupcake Wars and Top Chef, so they do cooking competitions, which leaves the kitchen a complete mess. They are all good cooks, which is what we're trying to teach them: independence and self-reliance, so they can cook for themselves. Otherwise, it's like being a short-order cook for three preteens all the time.
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How to watch it
CBS Evening News airs daily on CBS at 6:30 p.m. ET, and on CBSN, CBS News’ 24/7 streaming news service, at 10 p.m. ET.
Gayle Jo Carter is the editor of aspireforequality.com; a veteran reporter and the former entertainment editor at USA WEEKEND magazine.