CBS News talent executive and producer Maria Mercader died in a New York hospital today after contracting the novel coronavirus.
She was 54.
Mercader had fought cancer and related illnesses for more than 20 years, and had been on medical leave for an unrelated matter since the last week of February.
“Even more than her talents as a journalist, we will miss her indomitable spirit,” CBS News president and senior ep Susan Zirinsky said in a statement. “Maria was part of all of our lives. Even when she was hospitalized and she knew something was going on at CBS, she would call with counsel, encouragement and would say ‘you can do this.’ I called Maria a ‘warrior.’ Maria was a gift we cherished.”
It is with profound sadness that I share with you the loss of a dear member of our CBS News family. Maria Mercader, who embodied all of a journalist’s vital traits, foremost the fearlessness she showed battling cancer and now COVID-9. She was a warrior. Love Z pic.twitter.com/jlR6txkDvX
— Susan Zirinsky (@szirinsky) March 29, 2020
According to CBS, Mercader started at the network in 1987 as a page. She worked on the CBS News foreign and national desks, and helped produce many of the biggest stories, including the death of Princess Diana and the 9/11 attacks.
She worked closely with CBS News’ anchors and correspondents over the years, and was active in coordinating the news division’s participation in the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and the National Association of Black Journalists.
CBS News talent chief Laurie Orlando added: “Maria was a friend to all. It’s nearly impossible to be someone EVERYONE loves, but Maria was. She always had a warm hug, a word of advice or support and a big smile for everyone in her life. She was a bright light and will be sorely missed.”
Mercader, a native New Yorker, won a Business Emmy in 2004 for her work on a CBS Sunday Morning report on computer spam. She is survived by her father, Manuel and brother, Manuel.
COVID-19 has now taken the lives of two television newsers, the other being Larry Edgeworth, a longtime audio engineer at NBC News who passed away on March 19 after contracting COVID-19. He was 61.