National Press Club

NBC News's Andrea Mitchell honored at National Press Club's Fourth Estate Award dinner

October 7, 2013 | By Molly McCluskey |]

Andrea Mitchell, left, receives Fourth Estate Award from National Press Club President Angela Greiling Keane

Andrea Mitchell, left, receives Fourth Estate Award from National Press Club President Angela Greiling Keane

Photo/Image: Noel St. John

Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News and host of MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” received the National Press Club’s most prestigious honor, the Fourth Estate Award, at a gala dinner at the Club Oct. 4.

The veteran newswoman was the 41st recipient of the award, which is presented annually to a journalist in recognition for significant contributions to the journalism profession.

In Mitchell’s case, the award also was a recognition of the advancements of women in journalism and in the National Press Club over the past 30 years.

“This award is meaningful for so many reasons,” Mitchell said after an introduction by NPC President Angela Greiling Keane. But it is especially meaningful, she said, “to be honored by my peers in this place.”

“Until 1971, [Keane] would not be president and I would not be honored,” she said, referring to the year the National Press Club admitted women.

With NBC News since 1978, Mitchell’s reporting has spanned the globe. She has reported on the energy crisis and the Three Mile Island nuclear incident, secured exclusive interviews with Fidel Castro and reported on the role of weapons of mass destruction in the Iraq War. Mitchell has been forcibly removed from a press session in the Sudan and broken her foot jumping from a flatbed truck to chase after President Obama.

One of the only female journalists to cover five presidents, Congress and foreign policy, Mitchell scooped the competition -- and then-candidate George Bush himself -- during the 1988 Republican National Convention, breaking the news that Bush had selected Dan Quayle as his running mate.

“Do not get in Andrea’s way when she’s reporting,” said USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page in an affectionate toast. “She’s tiny but she’s tough.”

Page, who called Mitchell “a champion” and a model for women journalists, spoke of Mitchell’s commitment to mentoring young, female journalists in what has become known as the “Andrea Mitchell Academy.”

“How hard can it be to work for Brian Williams when you’ve been trained by Andrea Mitchell?” Page laughed.

Page’s fellow panelists, NBC News Washington Bureau Chief Ken Strickland and 2011 Fourth Estate Award winner Jim Lehrer, both spoke of Mitchell’s unrelenting energy, drive and commitment to journalism.

“Working with Andrea is like being a medium tennis player and playing Serena Williams,” Strickland said. “Everyone working with you knows it’s got to be good.” During his remarks Strickland repeatedly turned to Mitchell and said, “You’re simply the best.”

Lehrer spoke of Mitchell’s commitment to facts over speculation. “Andrea doesn’t tell you what she thinks or knows or believes, but what she knows and what people she trusts have told her,” he said.

In her own remarks, Mitchell spoke of changing technology -- from the rolls of audio tape edited in the field 45 years ago to the smartphone and rapid news cycle of today. “In the 45 years I‘ve been a journalist, our profession has found very different ways to write this first draft of history,” she said.

“The way we communicate the story has changed,” Mitchell said, “but the fundamentals are the same.”

Mitchell’s book, “Talking Back... to Presidents, Dictators, and Assorted Scoundrels,” is available at bookstores everywhere. As is Fourth Estate custom, she received a lifetime membership to the National Press Club.

The event was a fundraiser for the National Press Club’s Eric Friedheim National Journalism Library, which provides training for news professionals, research for journalists and other media professionals, and journalism scholarships.