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The reporter who’s been “schlepping” around with Hillary Clinton for eight years

July 29, 2016 at 6:15 PM EDT
New York Times political reporter has been covering Hillary Clinton since her run in 2008. Through the good times and bad — from losing the Democratic primary in 2008 to becoming the first female presidential nominee for a major party in 2016. Chozick gives us an up-close-and-personal look at what it was like to be at the Democratic nominee’s side through it all.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally, another installment in our Brief But Spectacular series, where we ask interesting people to describe their passions.

Tonight, we hear from New York Times political reporter Amy Chozick, who has been providing The Times with regular coverage of Hillary Clinton since her first presidential run in 2008.

AMY CHOZICK, The New York Times: From the outside, it looks like, oh, you’re covering Hillary Clinton, and it’s like the most exciting news story of the year.

The day-to-day is a lot of, like, schlepping around to Holiday Inn Expresses, eating out of your lap in plastic containers on a bus, pretty grueling, not all that glamorous.

I had been a foreign correspondent based in Tokyo with The Wall Street Journal. And my editors moved me back to the U.S. and they said, how would you like to cover Hillary Clinton?

I didn’t know what a caucus was, which the Clinton people joked with me years later, that that’s OK, they didn’t know what a caucus was either.

And I saw Hillary Clinton’s arc from thinking, oh, I’m assigned to Hillary Clinton, I’m riding this to the White house, to all of a sudden seeing her lose to Obama and also, when she was losing, become a very different type of candidate, less guarded, more willing to communicate with the reporters who traveled with her, just sort of having fun when it looked like she had nothing left to lose.

She would do this famous game that — the campaign trail, and that was rolling oranges down the aisle of the plane. The press sits in the back, would write a question on the orange and roll it up to the front of the plane. And then she writes her answer and rolls it back.

Well, my editor said, OK, that’s enough. We really need you to go be with the Obama campaign. I saw him, just, you know, keep a crowd just raptured. And my takeaway was that this guy is incredibly charming to a crowd of 50,000 people, and Hillary is incredibly charming to a crowd of five, you know?

And that’s been a struggle for her current campaign. It’s a pretty historic phenomenon that this first female nominee of a major party has a predominantly female press corps covering her. I don’t think we think about it very much, you know, on a day to day, but it’s certainly more female than 2008 or any of the press corps I have seen.

Writing a tough story about a candidate who you’re going to see the next day, whose advisers you’re going to be in very close contact with the next day, is inherently awkward.

With Hillary Clinton, I know she takes these things pretty personally, the coverage, but I also always think of her as one of those, like, kid’s dolls that you punch and they bounce back up. I mean, she has bounced back from so much difficult coverage, whether it’s Whitewater, Monica.

I mean, you could — decades of coverage. And I think that’s very much formed her impression of the political media, rightly and wrongly. And so there’s not a lot she hasn’t seen at this point.

My name is Amy Chozick, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on covering Hillary Clinton.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And you can watch more of our Brief But Spectacular series on our Web site. That’s PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief.

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