CBS News veteran Lesley Stahl revealed a weeks-long battle with coronavirus in the waning minutes of Sunday’s broadcast of “60 Minutes,” adding to the list of prominent journalists who have grappled with the disease.
CBS News and Stahl, who is 78 years old and the “60 Minutes” correspondent most associated to the show’s earlier days under founding producer Don Hewitt, had not disclosed her illness previously, though the ViacomCBS unit had made public in March that a number staffers at “60 Minutes” had tested positive.
“One of the rules of journalism is ‘Don’t become part of the story.’ But instead of covering the pandemic, I was one of the more than one million Americans who did become part of it,” Stahl said at the close of the newsmagazine’s Sunday broadcast,. “I wasn’t alone from this broadcast. One COVID-positive ’60 Minutes’ coworker had almost no symptoms, while others had almost every symptom you can imagine. Every case is different.”
Stahl confessed on air that she spent two weeks at home in bed, “weak, fighting pneumonia and really scared,” before going to a hospital for treatment.
Other prominent TV journalists have also nodded to their battles with coronavirus, including Chris Cuomo and Brooke Baldwin at CNN. A handful of Fox News and Fox Business anchors and personalities have quarantined themselves out of caution or after experiencing symptoms.
Stahl is in her 30th season with “60 Minutes,” having joined the venerable program in March of 1991. In recent years, she had distinguished herself by landing a handful of interviews with President Donald Trump, including his first TV interview after the 2016 election. She was the first woman at CBS News to hold the position of White House correspondent and moderated “Face The Nation” between 1983 and 1991.
In an interview with Variety in early March, she offered no sign that she wanted to pull back from journalism. “I love my job. I like what I do,” she said at the time. “Any time you ever ask me if I’m happy, I’ll say ‘Yes.'”