News / 

Rita Cosby moves from Fox news channel to MSNBC

Save Story

Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Rita Cosby figures you can either be overwhelmed by the highly competitive demands of TV news or you can thrive on them.

Cosby seems temperamentally unsuited to do anything but thrive.

With her energetic manner, husky voice and blond mane, Cosby has the requisite flash and fire of the talking heads who dominate cable news shows. But she also brings credibility to the table. A three-time Emmy winner, the newswoman has earned a reputation for nailing down exclusive, hard-to-get interviews - with elusive pop star Michael Jackson to Yugoslovian president and war criminal Slobodan Milosevic.

Since graduating from the University of South Carolina in 1989, Cosby also has covered plane crashes, hurricanes, hostage-takings and battlefronts.

"I'm a news junkie. I love a story. I love the business," she said this week.

Cosby is running full tilt, squeezing in a phone call between changing planes. She launched her nightly news show, "Rita Cosby: Live & Direct" at 9 p.m. EDT Monday on MSNBC.

Cosby seems to have been on the move since her days as a USC student, when she told her journalism professor, the late Lee Dudek, that she wanted to "cover the world." Dudek, in whose name Cosby helped establish and finances a USC scholarship, knew what hard-to-get interview subjects such as Jackson or Milosevic would learn: Cosby is persistent.

"I'll wait days, weeks or years for an interview," she said. "Milosevic took years."

And she's tireless. Literally.

"I don't need a lot of sleep. I can live on none if I have to," she said.

While at USC as a full-time student, Cosby rolled out of bed at 4 a.m. to work at her job operating the master controls at WACH, the Fox affiliate in Columbia. She also freelanced stories at The State newspaper, writing for the Neighbors sections.

At a stint on a summer-school production, Cosby's work ethic got the attention of actor Patrick O'Neal, who passed along her resume to Diane Sawyer.

The resume led to an interview with Sawyer; after graduating in 1989, Cosby earned a coveted internship on "The CBS Evening News."

A news job followed in Bakersfield, Calif., where she won a regional Emmy for investigative reporting. The next job was at the CBS affiliate in Charlotte. Her career with Fox News began in 1995. "I've never been called lazy. I love to roll up my sleeves," Cosby said.

She has been called "a tabby" - one critic's shorthand for tabloid-style reporters - and "chunky," but she blows off the cheap shots.

"I think newswomen get more comments on their appearance and what they do than newsmen. ... This is not a business for someone with thin skin. You pay a price for getting into this arena."

The time slot Cosby takes has not been kind to previous occupants, including - most recently - "The Situation with Tucker Carlson," who has been bumped to 11 p.m. EDT.

But with her 16 years of experience, and a format that follows the news of the day, promising fresh faces, energy and unpredictability, Cosby is confident.

"I think our show is going to be different," she said.

Cosby left a successful position as a weekend news anchor and a senior correspondent at Fox News Channel. She said that when MSNBC, an also-ran in the cable news network ratings, offered her a nightly show, she couldn't refuse.

But what matters most to Cosby is her reputation as a journalist:

"I'm not the person to go to for the soft interviews. I'm going to be respectful but fair."

Cosby said the compliment that pleased her most was when those with opposing positions agreed that whether they liked her questions or not, they were treated fairly.

"You keep critiquing yourself through the years," Cosby said. "You learn how to (be) part psychologist to understand the person. You learn to be better with time. You learn when a world leader or a president only has 10 minutes, what the three or four key questions are.

"You have to hit all the buttons and not lose sight of the fact our job is to tell the story and make it interesting."


(c) 2005, The State (Columbia, S.C.). Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.

Most recent News stories


Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast