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CNN investigative journalist Drew Griffin passes away at age 60

By Sarah May on
 December 24, 2022

The journalism world was shocked and saddened last week to learn that longtime, award-winning CNN correspondent Drew Griffin passed away at the age of 60, as the network itself reported.

According to the outlet, Griffin had been fighting cancer for a lengthy period of time but had kept his battle a largely private one.

Long and storied career

Originally from Chicago, Griffin got his start at Champaign, Illinois ABC affiliate station WICD-TV as a reporter and cameraman.

From there, Griffin spent time working in an array of other locales, including television markets in South and North Carolina, Florida, and Washington.

It was when he moved into an investigative reporting role at KIRO-TV in Seattle that Griffin seemed to find his calling, eventually taking the skills gained there to CBS 2 in Los Angeles, where he helped establish an investigating reporting team at the station.

Investigative focus

Once he landed at CNN, Griffin was known for his contributions to a lengthy list of stories, documentaries, and other programming that earned some of the most highly coveted honors in the industry, including Emmy, Peabody, and Murrow awards.

Griffin's career included influential reporting on a number of key stories of the day, many of which prompted real reform in areas that needed it most.

As CNN noted, Griffin spearheaded a probe that revealed deadly delays and patient care problems within Department of Veterans Affairs facilities, an investigation that eventually prompted the resignation of the agency's secretary as well as significant changes to the manner in which the VA operates.

Another of Griffin's change-making reports delved into the unusually high volume of sexual assault claims made against Uber drivers, and in the end, the company adjusted its background check procedures, beefed up security features available to users, and abandoned its practice of forcing assault accusers into non-disclosure agreements and arbitration processes.

According to CNN, Griffin also pursued investigations related to fraud claims against Trump University, 2020 election irregularities alleged by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, and the Jan. 6, 2021 unrest at the Capitol.

Licht pays tribute

As the Hollywood Reporter noted, CNN chief Chris Licht sent a memo to network staffers on Monday paying homage to Griffin's life and work.

“Drew's death is a devastating loss to CNN and our entire profession. A highly acclaimed investigative journalist, Drew's work had incredible impact and embodied the mission of this organization in every way,” Licht wrote.

“He cared about seeking the truth and holding the powerful to account. He was hard-hitting, but always fair,” the network CEO added.

Lauding the doggedness with which Griffin conducted his professional duties, Licht continued, “His work ethic was unparalleled. He spent long hours poring over documents and working the phones. Even as he battled cancer, he refused to give up on the reporting that was so important to him and was even working on an investigation until the day he passed away.”

Colleagues mourn

CNN personality Don Lemon was among Griffin's colleagues shaken by the news of his death, with the host choking up and breaking down into tears when he announced the news on his morning show.

Describing Griffin as “our colleague and friend and longtime distinguished CNN journalist, Lemon mournfully added, “[y]ou will be missed, and I hope you're smiling down on us from heaven.”

CNN investigative unit executive producer Patricia DiCarlo also offered effusive praise for Griffin, who leaves behind a wife and three children, saying, “You know when a Drew Griffin story starts – it's going to be great. His way with words set him apart.”

DiCarlo added, “There are just so many people who worked with him and loved him – this is a devastating loss. There was no one else like him. We were Team Drew.”