Mary Louise Kelly

Mary Louise Kelly is an West German-born American broadcaster and author. She anchors the daily news show All Things Considered on National Public Radio (NPR), and previously covered national security at the network. Prior to NPR she reported for CNN and the BBC in London. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal,[1] Newsweek, The Atlantic, and other publications. Her first novel, Anonymous Sources, was published in 2013; her second, The Bullet, in 2015.[2]

Mary Louise Kelly
ML Kelly.jpg
Born (1971-03-27) 27 March 1971 (age 49)
Augsburg, West Germany (present-day Augsburg, Germany)
OccupationNovelist, Journalist
EducationHarvard University (BA)
Emmanuel College, Cambridge (MPhil)
GenreCrime fiction, Thriller
SpouseNick Boyle
Official website


Mary Louise Kelly grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1993, studying government and French literature. As a senior editor at The Harvard Crimson, she covered the 1992 Presidential election, and the first inauguration of President Bill Clinton.[3]

In 1993 she landed her first job in reporting at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she stayed for a year before leaving for the U.K. to pursue a second degree. In 1995, she graduated with a master's in European studies from Emmanuel College, Cambridge. During that same academic year she interned with the BBC in Glasgow and London.


Kelly's first post-college job was reporting on local politics for her hometown newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. After her post-graduate studies in Cambridge, England, and internships at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in Scotland and London, Kelly joined the Boston team that launched the radio news magazine The World, a joint venture between the BBC and Public Radio International.

The following year, Kelly returned to the UK, working as a host, foreign correspondent and senior producer for the BBC World Service, and as a producer at CNN in London. Kelly reported from the Afghan-Pakistan border, radical Hamburg mosques, Kosovo refugee camps and the deck of an aircraft carrier. At the BBC, she covered the peace talks that ended the troubles in Northern Ireland.

In 2001, Kelly returned to the United States to join NPR in Washington. For three years, she edited NPR's evening newsmagazine, All Things Considered. The NPR website described her as a "bad-ass babe on breaking news".[4] In 2004, Kelly launched NPR's intelligence beat.[2] She reported on spy agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency. In 2005, Kelly became the first reporter to interview Gary Schroen, the CIA operative who was dropped into Afghanistan in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks with a six-man team and a directive to bring back the head of Bin Laden.[5] In 2006, Kelly broke the news of the CIA's secret decision to disband the unit aimed at searching for Osama Bin Laden.[6] The story caused an uproar and led to the Senate voting on September 8, 2006, to reinstate the unit.

From January 2009 to 2011, Kelly was National Public Radio's senior Pentagon correspondent, reporting on defense and foreign policy issues. As part of NPR's national security team, Kelly covered the Obama administration's approach to the wars in Afghanistan and the Iraq War. She also focused on how the U.S. projected its military power elsewhere in the world; how the U.S. reacted to, and dealt with, the emerging global military muscle of countries such as China; and the way in which U.S. foreign policy goals are often sought, and sometimes achieved, through defense and Intelligence agency channels.[7]

From 2011 to 2014, Kelly focused on writing novels, and raising her sons, moving twice to live in Florence, Italy. She became a contributing editor at The Atlantic magazine in 2014, hosting multiple live events including the Aspen Ideas Festival, The Washington Ideas Forum and CityLab London.[8]

In 2016, Kelly returned to NPR as National Security Correspondent and guest host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. She continued as a contributing editor at The Atlantic magazine and is working on her third novel.[citation needed]

In January 2018, Kelly took over as anchor of flagship daily news show All Things Considered, following the retirement of Robert Siegel.[9]

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ended an interview with Kelly abruptly on January 24, 2020[10] and called her to his private quarters without a recorder, where, in a "profanity-laced rant", he rebuked her for asking questions regarding Ukraine during the interview.[11][12] The interview transcript was posted to the U.S. State Department website.[10] Pompeo said the incident was "another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President Trump and this administration", and claimed that Kelly had lied about whether Ukraine would be covered and whether the post-interview conversation would be off the record.[12] However, emails sent between Kelly and Pompeo's staff contradicted Pompeo's claim.[13] Taking his cue from Fox News personality Mark Levin, President Donald Trump later threatened to eliminate funding for National Public Radio (NPR).[14][15] Trump praised Pompeo. “That’s impressive Mike,” Trump said. “That reporter couldn’t have done too good a job on you.” Pausing, he added, “I think you did a good job on her, actually.”[16]

Kelly has served for many years as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, teaching classes in national security and journalism.[17]


Kelly's political spy thriller, Anonymous Sources (ISBN 978-1-4767-1554-4), was published in 2013 by Simon & Schuster. In it, journalist Alexandra James investigates a clandestine nuclear plot.[18]

Her second novel, The Bullet (ISBN 978-1-4767-6981-3), appeared in March 2015. The protagonist, Caroline Cashion, a professor at Georgetown University, finds a bullet lodged in her neck and sets out to unravel the mystery.[19]

Personal lifeEdit

Kelly is married to Nicholas Boyle, a litigator and partner at the international law firm Latham & Watkins.[1]

Kelly suffered significant hearing loss in her forties.[20]


  1. ^ Kelly, Mary Louise (March 25, 2016). "Why I answered my son's questions about Brussels". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on April 1, 2016. Retrieved March 26, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Mary Louise Kelly". NPR. 2020. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  3. ^ "Mary LOUISE Kelly". The Harvard Crimson. 2020. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  4. ^ Seabrook, Andrea (April 20, 2006). "NPR News Agenda From the Thursday Editors' Meeting". NPR. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  5. ^ Kelly, Mary Louise (May 3, 2005). "Why the Hunt for Osama Bin Laden Has Failed". NPR. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  6. ^ Kelly, Mary Louise (July 3, 2006). "Hunt for Osama Bin Laden Shifts Gears". NPR. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  7. ^ "Mary Louise Kelly: Guest Host". NPR. Archived from the original on October 21, 2010. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  8. ^ "Mary Louise Kelly". Aspen Ideas Festival. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  9. ^ "Hosting Changes to NPR's 'All Things Considered'" (Press release). NPR. December 18, 2017. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  10. ^ a b Pompeo, Mike (January 24, 2020). "Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Mary Louise Kelly of NPR's All Things Considered" (Interview). Interviewed by Kelly, Mary Louise. U.S. State Department. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  11. ^ Breslow, Jason (January 24, 2020). "Pompeo Won't Say Whether He Owes Yovanovitch An Apology. 'I've Done What's Right'". All Things Considered. NPR. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  12. ^ a b Wong, Edward (January 25, 2020). "Pompeo Denounces News Media, Undermining U.S. Message on Press Freedom". The New York Times. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  13. ^ Farhi, Paul (January 26, 2020). "Emails support NPR host after Pompeo calls her a liar in setting up contentious interview". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 27, 2020.
  14. ^ Kleefeld, Eric (Jan 26, 2020). "Because of Fox News, Pompeo's insult of reporter leads to Trump threatening NPR". Media Matters.
  15. ^ Echavarri, Fernanda (Jan 26, 2020). "Trump Threatens to Cut NPR's Funding After Pompeo Meltdown". Mother Jones.
  16. ^ Trump Praises Pompeo for Cursing Out Female Reporter: “You Did a Good Job on Her” By Inae Oh, Mother Jones, 28 Jan 2020
  17. ^ "Mary Louise Kelly". Retrieved 2020-02-27.
  18. ^ "Anonymous Sources - Overview". 2020. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  19. ^ "The Bullet - Overview". 2020. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  20. ^ Kelly, Mary Louise (April 7, 2015). "I Lost My Hearing in My Forties. Here's How I Handled It". Washingtonian. Retrieved January 25, 2020.

External linksEdit