Veteran CNN journalist Drew Griffin, whose investigative reporting affected real-world changes, lost his battle with cancer Saturday, the Western Journal reported. He was 60 years old.
"Drew’s death is a devastating loss to CNN and our entire profession," Chris Licht, the network's CEO, said of him in a staff letter. "A highly acclaimed investigative journalist, Drew’s work had incredible impact and embodied the mission of this organization in every way."
During his 19 years at CNN, Griffin won the industry's top awards, including Peabodys, Murrows, and Emmys, according to Fox News. "But people mattered more to Drew than prizes," Licht added.
The network leader also said Griffin "was widely known for his ability to get even the most hostile of interviewees to open up" to him. "Less known was that after conducting interviews — even the tough ones — Drew would usually mail a hand-written thank-you note to those who appeared in a story," Licht said.
"His work ethic was unparalleled. He spent long hours poring over documents and working the phones," Licht added. "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."
"Drew was beloved and respected by the investigative team, and he will be deeply missed," Licht later went on. "I know this is heartbreaking news for everyone."
Several of Griffin's reports shed light on serious problems. However, it wasn't just that he pulled back the curtains on the issues but also that many of his investigative reports ended in favorable resolutions for the aggrieved parties.
His reporting was instrumental in forcing the Department of Veterans Affairs secretary to resign after it came to light that the VA's lagging care contributed to veterans' to deaths. The investigation spanned a year and led to legislative changes forcing the VA to overhaul its system for setting crucial medical appointments in a timely manner.
Griffin also probed the ride-sharing company Uber after finding several instances of drivers committing sexual assault. His investigation led to a change in hiring practices for the company that increased rider safety.
An interview about fraud and malfeasance in California's state-run drug rehab program led to one unforgettable moment. Griffin's tough questions directed at California’s Health and Human Services Agency head sent her scurrying toward a restroom that turned out to be locked.
The loss of Griffin all but seals the fate of CNN. The network has faced several setbacks, including scandals, the failure of CNN+, and several personnel shakeups.
Just a year ago, CNN abruptly fired Chris Cuomo after finding out that he helped his brother, disgraced former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, navigate his sexual misconduct allegations. It was only a few months later that CNN+, the network's premium streaming platform, folded due to a lack of subscribers.
In late summer, CNN fired Brian Stelter and John Harwood and changed their lineup in hopes of pulling out of a ratings slump. Don Lemon was forced out of his "Don Lemon Tonight" and into mornings to revive its "New Day" program, but that change has yet to bear fruit.
While Griffin certainly had a left-leaning bent, his reporting substantially changed the issues he uncovered. His loss will be devastating for the network as so few remaining journalists there can do what Griffin did.