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Griffin, who garnered acclaim and accolades for tackling stories related to corruption, fraud and malfeasance, specialized in challenging investigations that had an outsized impact and was known for tough interviews that didn’t hold back.
His reporting into nursing home deaths and looting by some police officers led to investigations in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. His reporting into long delays for care at Veterans Affairs hospitals led to the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and reform legislation by Congress. More recently, Griffin led investigations into election denialism in the wake of Jan. 6, 2021, including an interview challenging MyPillow founder Mike Lindell.
His investigations included deep dives into safety issues in Ford vehicles, sexual assault claims against Uber drivers, fraud claims against Trump University, and illegal drift net fishing in Singapore. He reported from New York in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and on how gerrymandering and super PACs have changed how elections function in the U.S. And while covering Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Griffin and his crew pulled a man from a pickup truck that had become caught in a flood current, live on-air.
“Drew’s death is a devastating loss to CNN and our entire profession,” CNN CEO Chris Licht wrote in a memo to staff Monday morning. “A highly acclaimed investigative journalist, Drew’s work had incredible impact and embodied the mission of this organization in every way. He cared about seeking the truth and holding the powerful to account. He was hard-hitting, but always fair.
“His work ethic was unparalleled,” Licht added. “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.”
A native of Chicago, Griffin began his journalism career as a cameraman and reporter at WICD in nearby Champaign. After stints at a number of local TV stations, he joined KCBS in Los Angeles in 1994, where he helped create the West Coast flagship station’s investigations team, and worked as a reporter and anchor.
Griffin joined CNN as a correspondent in 2004, based in Atlanta, and quickly established himself as a staple across CNN’s dayparts with his incisive reporting and investigations on everything from politics to business to sports.
“Whether it was two-hour documentaries or two-minute live shots — and there are a thousand 5-10 minute pieces in between those two things — Drew always always always made an impact,” CNN programming executive Michael Bass wrote in a note to staff. “He was not only gifted, but also modest … a wonderful guy who put his head down and did his thing and despite remarkable enterprise and exclusives and journalism of the highest order, never one to blare his own horn. But always one ready to credit the work done by the team around him.”
Along the way, he won multiple Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, an Edward R. Murrow award and other honors.
“But people mattered more to Drew than prizes,” Licht wrote, noting that he would often send handwritten notes to the subjects of his stories, “even the tough ones,” after they aired.
“His interviews were unwavering, and he gave a voice to those who don’t have one,” said CNN anchor Anderson Cooper in an on-air obituary Dec. 19.
Griffin is survived by his wife, three children and two grandchildren.
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The Fien Print
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