No, seriously: Why do people run for president?

[Talk of the Nation]

I was on NPR’s Talk of the Nation yesterday, talking about my op ed on why presidents run. You can listen here, and you can read the original piece here.

The best caller was an older gentleman from outside Indianapolis, which felt strange since I was doing my end of the interview from Indy’s WFYI. I’m in Indiana right now working on a profile of Mike Pence. Expect more in the future on why people run for governor!

Talking David Markson on NPR’s All Things Considered


On this weekend’s All Things Considered, I got a chance to talk with Guy Raz about David Markson and the surprising fate of many authors’ libraries. The segment was based on my story for the Boston Globe‘s “Ideas” section (see also this blog post), and NPR did a great job expanding on it — they even interviewed Annecy Liddell, the recent college grad who discovered one of Markson’s books and kick-started this whole crazy process.

One more thing: “connectable” is in fact a word. Not a common one — certainly not an elegant one — but a word nonetheless.

Bob Woodward’s New Book

On Monday, Bob Woodward’s latest book, Obama’s War, will hit stores in Washington, D.C., and everywhere else. As so often happens with high-profile political releases — in fact, I talked about this in my recent story on the digital leaking of Jimmy Carter’s White House Diary — a media outlet got an early copy of Woodward’s book and ran a story summarizing its juiciest details.

As so often happens, that outlet was The New York Times. Politico’s Keach Hagey has a great story on how it all went down, a story in which she kindly quoted me. The only thing I’d add to Hagey’s take is that this sort of thing has a long and equally intense history. Take Woodward (and Carl Bernstein’s) first book, All The President’s Men. It came out on June 17, 1974, but by early April newspapers across the country were running multiple-page stories summarizing the excerpts in Playboy. (The magazine paid $20,000 for two long excerpts from All The President’s Men, which ran in the May and June issues.) Books get fewer big serialization deals these days — I’d guess the online circulation of both the serializations and the summaries had more to do with this than the stories themselves — so the summaries now latch on to the books. And this happens with all kinds of political books: the Times got there first with Bill Clinton’s memoirs, Laura Bush’s memoirs, and Woodward’s last book, to name only a few.

What is new — and pretty fascinating — is the way new media are interacting with books. My story about Carter’s diary and Google Books is one example. Another is Politico’s Woodward fixation: the publication ran 8 separate insider-y stories on Obama’s Wars in the first two days after the Times‘ scoop. That hype sounds unbeatable — until you remember that Woodward and Bernstein sold the movie rights to All The President’s Men a full three months before its release.


Earlier tonight, I appeared on WICC’s “Talk of the Town,” where Jim Buchanan interviewed me about my story on the Cheshire case and Brian McDonald’s book. Click here to listen to an mp3.

This was my first radio interview, and I have to say I’m pretty happy with the lack of ums, ers, and yeahs. Of course, I also managed to say obviously 328 times in 14 minutes.

[UPDATE:] Another day (February 2), another interview—this one with Larry Rifkin on WATR 1320 AM. You can listen to an mp3 here.