Starr is a graduate of the California State University, Northridge, from which she earned a degree in journalism. From 1979 to 1988, she was a correspondent for Business Week magazine, covering energy matters. She then worked for the news magazine Jane's Defence Weekly from 1988 to 1997 covering national security and defense policy before joining ABC News as a producer, covering the Pentagon, for which she won an Emmy Award.
In June 2013, MSNBC reporter Chris Hayes ran a segment, in which he argued that Starr's publication of leaked information was at least as potentially harmful to national security as those published by Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian.
In July 2015, Starr received criticism from Kenyans through a Twitter hashtag that trended for several hours on the Internet when she called Kenya a "terror hotbed" as President Obama headed to the East African nation. She was referring to the security threat posed by Al-Shabaab militants operating from neighboring Somalia.
- "CNN Profiles - Barbara Starr - Pentagon Correspondent". CNN. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
- "Michael Hastings on a mission". politico.com. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
- Jeremy Scahill. "CNN Blames the Photos, Not the Torture". antiwar.com. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
- "MURIMI: Is CNN's Barbara Starr a 'hotbed of ignorance'?". citizentv.co.ke. Retrieved 30 July 2016.