Journalist Amy Chozick discusses what she learned from covering the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and the future of political journalism.
Amy Chozick: "Chasing Hillary" - Lessons From The Campaign Trail
My favorite review said it was boys on the bus maids devil where the Devil Wears Prada. So that was sort of exactly what I was trying to get at. That's a good pitch for Hollywood too. Yeah. You're listening from your lips to Reese Witherspoon's ears.
Yes but so I read you know being a political reporter I had read every campaign book as I'm sure you have what it takes. By Richard Ben Cramer and the boys on the Bus and HunterS. Thompson and all of these great campaign books and they're all written by men who have had to prove that they can get inside the campaigns of other great men. And we had this confluence of things happening in 2016 Hillary Clinton being the first woman with a real shot at the presidency. And her press corps was predominantly female. It's always been the boys on the bus and suddenly like 18 of 20 of us who traveled everywhere Hillary went were women. And so I wanted to write with a very female story about how this figure trying to become the first woman president had taken over my 20s and 30s. You know every major life decision when to get married and to have a baby all of these things kind of loomed around my career which was covering this woman trying to be president I think a lot of women you know make those sacrifices for their career but mine just happened to be Hillary.
Hillary. So take us a little bit about how you became a political reporter. You grew up in San Antonio Texas worked a little bit for a high school newspaper went to Yuchi worked in the paper in Austin and then you moved to New York decided to be a journalist without a job. And you found your way to the Wall Street Journal.
It was not quite that direct but a couple of pit stops. Exactly yeah. CONAN Gordon maybe yeah but yeah I I moved I wanted to be a journalist. I moved to New York.
It's very naive looking back no job no apartment. I had to I had a stack of clutch the Daily Texan where I'd worked in college and I didn't have any contacts. I was dropping out. It was like very working girl I was running around like my sneakers and suit like dropping off clips at magazines that I wanted to work at and I attempt to support myself. I went through some crazy jobs including a Conde Nast which I sort of document in one chapter of the book. These kind of fashion editors asking me for. You know I was I was that assistant. I remember getting in the elevator with this very young assistant probably my age and she had like a ten thousand dollar or mezz bag and her friend got in and said Oh my God I love your bag is that new. And she said no I got it like a week ago.
So there were like all of these things it seemed like completely crazy to me. I just moved from Texas I believe. And so I had this education about New York and eventually ended up getting a job as the foreign news assistant at The Wall Street Journal.
And this was right after Danny put sounds kind of glamorous. That was it was.
I think it was one of the great jobs in journalism but sadly I don't think it exists anymore but it was right after Danny Pearl had been kidnapped and killed in Pakistan. And we were in the thick of the Iraq war and. And right down here actually that the journal had been basically bombed out of its headquarters in 9/11 and so I was the four news assistant but I was doing really interesting things. I was like getting bulletproof vest to reporters and I was you know keeping track of where all the foreign correspondents were.
At one point I had to get an armored BMW to a correspondent in Baghdad and the only way they could think to get her enough money to buy this vehicle was to wire it to my personal savings account. So it went from like three hundred dollars to like forty thousand dollars.
And then I went was accused of money laundering.
So then I go and like withdraw this cash. The guy actually at the bank was like Would you like us to put that in a suitcase. And I go to Western Union across the street and like yeah I'm pretty sure I'm on some kind of money laundering list. I was like I need to get forty thousand dollars in cash to Baghdad but it was just like a great one.
Yes. It was a great education about journalism. My editors all encouraged me to write.
You know they were like forget doing expenses and getting coffee and all the like assistant duties they really don't want to see your name on page one. And I wrote a ton and eventually I got promoted to be a foreign correspondent in Japan.
And you covered business in Japan.
Yeah it was consumer culture so it was kind of anything. The Japanese are buying or doing or. I mean I was sort of like an anthropological beat because Japan is so much about consumer culture. So I wrote some of those and a lot of those quirky middle columns the Wall Street Journal that you had.
Yes. So then you come back home and get recruited to join the 2008 campaign. Hillary running against the unknown or relatively little known senator from Illinois. She seemed like the favorite to describe covering that campaign. What was like what the comedown was like. Eventually yeah.
So my boss and when I was in Japan was editor named John Bussey who was the foreign news editor. He had hired me to be the assistant and then promoted me to be a correspondent and he became Washington bureau chief.