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5 Minutes With . . . Rita Cosby

5 Minutes With . . . Rita Cosby
(Courtesy of Rita Cosby)

Friday, 06 October 2017 10:02 AM

Rita Cosby is one of the most versatile anchors and reporters in America, with a reputation for scoring hard-to-get interviews with the likes of six U.S. presidents, Pope Francis, Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson, former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, and "Son of Sam" killer David Berkowitz.

With two New York Times best-selling books, three Emmys, and five Gracie Awards to her name, Cosby is a special correspondent for TV's "Inside Edition" and hosts two shows on WABC Radio in New York. She’s also a frequent guest host on Newsmax TV.

Known for her tough questions, you can always count on Cosby to dig out the truth. Here, Newsmax flipped the script, grilling her on her career and some of the wilder moments in the news business.

Newsmax: You were one of the first reporters and hosts hired by Fox News before its news channel launch in 1996. Later you hosted and reported on MSNBC primetime. Is President Trump right about the media and “fake news”?

Rita Cosby: Yes, in some ways he is. An enormous percentage of the media today seems determined to bring down this president. I am a firm believer that any president should expect tough questions from the media, as it is our job is to keep a president in check, but I have never seen such divisive and blatantly slanted and negative coverage.

NM: Which of your many scoops are you most proud of?

RC: Getting an exclusive interview with Pope Francis at the Vatican and being the first American journalist to do so. A Vatican guard gave me a quick tip that I should speak with the Argentinian-born Pope in Spanish if I knew the language, and he told me that only about 30 seconds before the Pope walked over to me. Luckily, my time in college at the University of Seville paid off, and the Pope seemed to appreciate that I spoke in his native tongue. I was in full reporter mode during the interview but, afterwards, had tears in my eyes knowing I was fortunate enough to speak to the Holy Father.

NM: Your father walked out of your life when you were a teen and, as an adult, you didn’t even know if he was still alive. Then you uncovered the incredible story of his heroism resisting the Nazis during World War II. What was that experience like for you?

RC: Incredibly moving and revealing. I learned that although he was far from a perfect father, he was a true hero and did the best he could to function after the horrors he endured when the Nazis invaded his beloved Poland. Reuniting with my father and learning of his past taught me a lot about forgiveness and faith. Also, I gained an even greater appreciation for what our warfighters and their families go through when they return from the battlefield. I am very active in helping our troops and their loved ones through efforts such as the televised annual Troopathon, which I proudly co-host with founder Melanie Morgan and John Bachman on Newsmax TV.

NM: What is the most bizarre interview you’ve ever conducted?

RC: I’ve had some wild ones, several where I had guns drawn on me beforehand. I also remember early in my career I wanted to interview a doctor accused of a crime, and he slammed the door on me three times. So I then spoke to him through his mail slot and, ultimately, he opened the door and gave me an exclusive. Persistence paid off.

NM: What was your scariest moment in journalism, where you felt you might be in danger?

RC: I interviewed an American man held unlawfully in a Mexican prison and knew prison officials and others were on the take. Walking through that prison, knowing I was in a foreign country and dealing with very corrupt individuals as guides and with thousands of other cons, was a frightening scene. My investigative story earned an Emmy but, more importantly, the man gained his freedom as result of my coverage. That reinforced why I got into journalism, to expose wrongs and try to make a difference.

NM: If you had not been a journalist, what career path would you have pursued?

RC: An attorney, as I am very passionate about fighting for causes and people. I was offered some neat acting jobs early on in college, but always found that real life stories can be more interesting and often crazier than fiction. I also would’ve loved to have been on “Candid Camera,” as I am an eternal prankster.

NM: Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life?

RC: Jessica Chastain is terrific and often plays powerful parts like in “Zero Dark Thirty” and “The ZooKeeper’s Wife.” I might bring in Diane Neal from “Law & Order” since I am often told we look and sound alike. I often have people ask me how I am able to cover the news and also be on “Law & Order” at the same time!

NM: You famously did back-to-back interviews with the Palestinian and Israeli leaders in the early 2000s. Is peace possible between the two regions?

RC: I hope so, but I think sadly it is remote. The two sides are so far apart on many key issues, and there are many sticking points and many other players involved outside of the two parties. Arafat told me to tell then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, whom I was interviewing the next day, that he prays peace happens for their children or their children’s children. Neither leader saw it happen . . . and I don’t know if I will in my lifetime.

NM: Most journalists have that one elusive interview they’d like to land. Who is left on your interview bucket list?

RC: I have a diverse bucket list. I’d like to interview Putin and Bruce Springsteen, two bosses. Of course, I’d like to ask many questions of Kim Jong Un. I came close; I talked to Dennis Rodman! LOL.

NM: You host "Pubs 'n' Politics," a regular event billed as a "night of political fireworks" in conjunction with 77 WABC Radio. What can you tell us about the series?

RC: It’s been a blast. We started these events earlier this year and they’re opportunities to interview my spirited colleagues at WABC Radio or other big political or Hollywood stars before a live audience. At the last one in September, we had no nonsense Sheriff David Clarke and separately, the three main challengers to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. Things got very heated between the three candidates; they almost needed boxing gloves versus a microphone.

NM: What's your biggest guilty pleasure?

RC: I am an adventure seeker. I skydived with the Golden Knights at 13,000 feet, hiked up an erupting volcano, swam with the sharks, and traveled to Antarctica. That’s all before breakfast.

NM: Which president, alive or dead, would you like to have dinner with?

RC: Abraham Lincoln. He was incredibly courageous against unbelievable odds.

NM: And if you had that dinner, what is your favorite restaurant in New York to take them?

RC: If he liked Italian, I’d do Trattoria Dell’Arte; for seafood, Red Eye Grill or Nobu. For sure, I would not prepare the meal, as cooking is not one of my talents. I tell everyone the key to my survival is that I am a good dinner date and I make great restaurant reservations.

© 2019 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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Rita Cosby is one of the most versatile anchors and reporters in America, with a reputation for scoring hard-to-get interviews. Here, Newsmax flipped the script, grilling her on her career and some of the wilder moments in the news business.
rita cosby, 5 minutes, profile
Friday, 06 October 2017 10:02 AM
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