Bill Whitaker was named a 60 MINUTES correspondent in March 2014; the 2017-2018 season is his fourth on the broadcast. In four decades as a journalist, he has covered major news stories domestically and across the globe for CBS News.
Whitaker’s investigation with the Washington Post revealed how the DEA’s efforts to curb the opioid epidemic were hampered by a law pushed by drug industry lobbyists. The report was credited with forcing the law’s chief sponsor, a congressman, to withdraw his nomination for the Trump Administration’s drug czar.
Whitaker’s 60 MINUTES reporting has been wide-ranging and prolific. More than 50 percent of 60 MINUTES broadcasts in the 2016-2017 season contained segments reported by Whitaker. He has reported from Asia, Africa, Europe, Mexico and the Middle East in his three seasons, including a timely investigation of the vetting process Syrian refugees undergo before coming to the U.S. and an interview with the highest-ranking North Korean official to defect in decades. His report on the biggest data leak in Swiss banking history won an Emmy.
Domestically, his stories have provided keen insights into the hot-button issue of race and policing in America, with his reports from Cleveland, Chicago and most recently Tulsa, Okla., where he got the news-making first interview with the city police officer accused of manslaughter for shooting an unarmed black man. His stories have also drawn attention to death penalty issues in the U.S. and America’s heroin epidemic. Whitaker has chronicled the epic battle to capture and hold Mexico’s infamous drug lord Joaquin “el Chapo” Guzman, gaining rare access to investigations on both sides of the border.
Before joining 60 MINUTES, Whitaker covered virtually all of the major news stories in the West since he was posted to Los Angeles in 1992, reporting regularly for the CBS EVENING NEWS and other CBS News broadcasts. He also has worked for CBS SUNDAY MORNING, turning out feature stories and thoughtful profiles, including ones on Barbra Streisand, Norman Lear and Gladys Knight. One of his most memorable CBS SUNDAY MORNING profiles was of ex-boxer Mike Tyson. He has interviewed First Lady Michelle Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.
Whitaker frequently reported from overseas as well, covering the funeral of Nelson Mandela from South Africa. He also did pieces from Japan on the Fukushima nuclear disaster and from Haiti after the tragic earthquake there. He reported from Kabul during the early stages of the War in Afghanistan.
In 2008 he covered Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. He was CBS News’ lead reporter on the 2000 presidential campaign of George W. Bush.
Prior to his assignment to Los Angeles, Whitaker served as CBS News’ Tokyo correspondent (1989-1992). There, he covered stories throughout Asia, including the pro-democracy uprising in Tiananmen Square, military coup attempts in the Philippines and the enthronement of Japan’s Emperor Akihito. He was in Baghdad for the build-up to Desert Storm.
Before that, Whitaker was based in Atlanta (1985-1988), where he won an Emmy for his reports on the collapse of Jim and Tammy Bakker’s television ministry and covered the 1988 presidential campaign of Michael Dukakis. Whitaker joined CBS News as a reporter in November 1984.
Previously, Whitaker was a correspondent for WBTV-TV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte, N.C. He began his broadcast journalism career at KQED-TV in San Francisco, where he was a producer, associate producer and researcher/writer.
Whitaker was born in Philadelphia on August 26, 1951. He graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges with a B.A. degree in American history and from Boston University with a master’s degree in African-American studies. Whitaker also holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley. He was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 1997.