When Bianna Golodryga and her family first moved to Houston in the early 1980s as political refugees from the former Soviet Union, the future reporter was called a commie spy by other children. She begged her parents to not speak Russian in public. Decades later, Golodryga’s fluency in Russian and expertise in the country at the center of a growing national security scandal is proving to be a much greater asset.
In a first-of-its-kind arrangement, Golodryga, who previously served as a business anchor for Yahoo News and the anchor of ABC’s weekend edition of “Good Morning America,” will be working for CBS News and CNN simultaneously. She signed multiyear deals with both networks late last week.
While Golodryga’s new CNN colleague Anderson Cooper contributes reports to CBS’ “60 Minutes,” most of his time is spent with the cable network. What makes Golodryga’s deal unusual is that she could work for both networks each day, contributing reports to CBS shows and serving as an on-air contributor on CNN shows like “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”
Golodryga filed her first story early Tuesday for “CBS This Morning,” about the water quality in flood-ravaged Houston, and appeared live wading in stagnant floodwater in her hometown. Her first appearance on CNN is set for this Wednesday evening.
Golodryga may contribute stories to any CBS news show but will focus most of her attention on “CBS This Morning.” She will also fill in as an anchor on “CBS This Morning.” While she declined to say what other stories she was currently working on, there’s no doubt some of her focus will be on stories related to Russia and the Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. She will be the only on-air reporter covering Russia at any of the major networks who is a native Russian speaker.
In an exclusive interview with HuffPost, Golodryga considered her personal arc from rejection to acceptance of her Russian heritage: starting out as a child embarrassed about where she came from, then deciding to major in Russian studies in college, and now teaching Russian to her two children with former Obama and Clinton administration official Peter Orszag. These days, the public focus on Russian President Vladimir Putin and the investigation into his country’s electoral interference also makes Golodryga the center of attention at social gatherings.
In the past eight months, Golodryga has appeared on MSNBC and CNN to offer her analysis on the Trump White House and in particular the investigation into Russian interference. Both cable networks offered her the exposure that Yahoo News didn’t.
But it was after Golodryga filled in on “CBS This Morning” for a vacationing Gayle King that she was given the opportunity to go back to network television and do what she loves most, anchoring and reporting from the field for the network she grew up watching with her family. “60 Minutes” was a staple in their household.
Having a platform on two major news networks could also help Golodryga land big interviews again (while she was at ABC, she sat down with former President Bill Clinton and legendary investor Warren Buffett) and avoid the kind of mix-up that made news earlier this year.
In the book Shattered, a postmortem on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, it was revealed that Golodryga missed the interview of a lifetime thanks to a confusion of names. According to the book, Clinton had told top aide Huma Abedin that she wanted to grant an interview to “Bianna.” Abedin shared the request with the campaign press team, who reportedly thought she meant “Brianna,” as in CNN reporter Brianna Keilar. By the time the mixup was noticed, it was too late to cancel the interview with Keilar.
Golodryga had no idea that she lost the chance to interview Clinton until she was reading a copy of the book in advance of an interview with the authors Amie Parnes and Jonathan Allen.
Since she joined CBS, Golodryga said that she has not yet reached out to Clinton’s team, but that she would welcome the opportunity to sit down with her.
As Clinton gears up for a monthslong book tour, Golodryga’s opportunity may come sooner rather than later.