Bobbie Battista, the former CNN news anchor and celebrated broadcast news journalist, has died at the age of 67. Battista was a graduate of Northwestern University where she studied radio, television and film production. She began her television career as an anchor and reporter with WRAL in Raleigh, North Carolina. Battista worked at the station until 1981 when she joined the fledgling Cable News Network, CNN.
During her time with CNN, Battista fronted CNN Headline News and CNN International. Battista worked at CNN between November 1981 and January 2002. Battista covered major news events for the company such as 9/11, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Challenger disaster.
Battista said of her time on CNN, “Whether the Challenger explosion, the assassination attack on Reagan, the Gulf War, certainly this terrorist attack. Those were memorable from the anchor desk. As far as TalkBack, we’ve had some serious shows, and some fun shows. If I had to pick, I’d say I liked Free for All Fridays the best.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. CNN Executives Were Sad to Battista Go When She Left the Network in 2002
In the 1980s and ’90s, Battista was such a recognizable face that she was regularly lampooned on “Saturday Night Live.” In 1997, Battista appeared as herself in the Jodie Foster movie, “Contact.” When Battista decided to leave CNN in 2001, she told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that her choice was similar to that of a professional athlete. Battista said, “You want to go out on top. I didn’t want to make that mistake where I stayed too long. I’ve seen anchors who did that.” CNN officials said were adamant that Battista had not been forced out of the network.
2. Battista Had Battled Cervical Cancer for 4 Years
CNN’s executive producer, David Gelles, confirmed Battista’s passing saying, “Former CNN anchor Bobbie Battista has passed away at the age of 67, after a four year battle with cervical cancer. Battista was one of the original CNN Headline News anchors when the network launched in 1981. She anchored several news programs on CNN including “TalkBack Live.””
Battista is survived by her husband, John Brimelow. Brimelow said in a statement, via CNN, “Bobbie was the consummate trooper in her struggle with cancer, she was courageous and fearless in her battle and thoughtful for all the others in her life even as she fought through the pain. My dear partner of 25 years of marriage has cut her earthly bonds and is now in peace.”
3. When Battista Left CNN, She Would Miss the Audience ‘Very Much’
Battista said on her final appearance on CNN, she paid tribute to her audience saying, “I know you’ll hear me say it today, that the audience has always been very kind and generous to me. I’ll miss you all a lot, and I don’t even really know who you are! As an entity, I’ll miss the audience very much.”
During the same interview, Battista said of her future plans, “I hope to still do some television, not in cable news, I won’t do that. I’d only do that for CNN. I may do commercials, project work for Lifetime, HGTV, fun things like that. I’ll also be starting a consulting business, where I’ll coach politicians, corporate executives, and young newscasters. Very excited about that!”
4. Battista Lived With Her Husband in Savannah, Georgia
Battista lived with her husband in Savannah, Georgia, where they ran a communications company, Atamira Communications. Battista had a stepdaughter who is in the Air Force Academy.
According to Battista’s LinkedIn page, she stopped working at the company in 2010 and began a role as the Director of External Affairs and Communications with the Fulton County government in Georgia. In 2013, Battista worked for a time with Georgia Public Broadcasting. Between April 2016 and April 2018, Battista was the director of corporate communications and media for ExpressJet Airlines.
5. Disappointed With the State of Network News in 2009, Battista Fronted Onion Network News for a Time
In 2009, Battista began fronting the spoof-news network, the Onion News Network. Battista explained the thinking behind her decision to join the comedy platform, telling The New York Times, “It occurred to me that some would say, ‘Oh, how the mighty have fallen. I thought about that, but I said, ‘Hey, why not?’ You watch the news today, and you don’t know what is real. When I was doing newscasts at CNN, people would come up to me and say, ‘That story can’t be real.’ Now the lines are really getting blurred.”
During the interview, Battista referenced a recent cable news story on the lingerie football league as not belonging on the news.