Brianna Keilar: ‘Right as the Primaries Were Wrapping Up, My Mom Died’

By Mark Joyella 

In an interview for the CNN series Girls on the Bus, correspondent Brianna Keilar talks about struggling with the grief over her mother’s sudden death while maintaining the grueling pace of reporting on the campaign trail.

“I thought the hardest thing I would deal with in 2016 was covering the election. It was a reasonable assumption,” Keilar says, describing a call she received from her father while on a plane in Washington–calling to tell her Keilar’s mom has been hospitalized. “I have no idea that by noon tomorrow she will be gone.”

Keilar writes about her mother’s constant presence in her life, calling or texting to ask about the candidates or to offer gentle suggestions about Keilar’s work:


This year, the election is her all-you-can-eat reality show buffet. She’s obsessed with the drama of the contest. Each big primary night is appointment television. She watches for me and texts.

“Who are you following in Oregon? Bernie?”

“My darling daughter, it’s after midnight! Sleep!”

“I’m watching you on New Day!”

“So. Can I critique you in an I’m your biggest fan manner? Can you say yes instead of yeah when Wolf asks you a question?”

Our constant conversation helps me keep my sanity as I dart, sleep-deprived, from state to state.

“My Mom was the rock of our family,” Keilar says, noting that she still feels her presence. “It’s like she’s just there with me.”