Cokie Roberts shares insights on political climate with Philadelphia audience

Listen 01:22:20
Dave Davies and Cokie Roberts

WHYY’s senior reporter Dave Davies interviewed NPR commentator and New York Times best-selling author Cokie Roberts about the future of American politics on Tuesday, Nov. 28, at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre in Philadelphia. (Dan Burke for WHYY)

In a politically divisive post-election year, it can be difficult to envision how the country will move forward.

NPR commentator and New York Times best-selling author Cokie Roberts has made a career out of political analysis. WHYY’s senior reporter Dave Davies interviewed Roberts about the future of American politics  Tuesday at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre in Philadelphia.

The conversation looked back at the 2016 presidential campaign and forward to the 2018 midterm election, and ranged among topics such as the role of the press and constitutional checks and balances in government; tax changes; immigration reform; gerrymandering; the next moves for the Democratic Party; and why Roberts favors the Electoral College.

Naturally, they spent much time talking about President Donald Trump. “He’s hard to avoid,” said Roberts.


One major influence on the direction of American politics is Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Trump and his 2016 campaign.

Roberts said she doesn’t think proving the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians would be the president’s downfall.

“Do I think it’s going to lead to the president being forced out? Absolutely not,” she said. “But are there people around the president who could be in deep trouble? Sure.”

Roberts said she thinks the president is more of a big-picture guy and less likely to be involved in the detailed work that will be the subject of Mueller’s scrutiny.

When asked about the 2020 election, she said that, as of now, she would predict Trump to win another term.


Many people are thinking about the ongoing scandal of sexual harassment in politics, entertainment, and the media. While powerful men are losing jobs or facing investigations over sexual harassment, Roberts said she worries about a backlash.

She said she’s happy that allegations of sexual harassment are being taken seriously, but she is concerned it could be bad news for women in the workplace.

“We don’t know how this is going to play out. It could all have such a backlash,” she said. “I’m very nervous about this. I’m very nervous this is going to end up hurting women. And that people will start to say, ‘Do we really want to hire a woman?’ You know, ‘Is she going to make trouble?’ ”

Roberts recounted sexual harassment she endured on the job in her career, including some come-ons from male journalists and inappropriate behavior from politicians.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Help us get to 100% of our membership goal to support the reporters covering our region, the producers bringing you great local programs and the educators who teach all our children.