The New York Times appears to have realized that having Donald Trump alight in Washington isn’t business as usual. In addition to hiring veteran political reporter Glenn Thrush from Politico, the newspaper has recalled longtime Washington hand Peter Baker from his posting as Jerusalem bureau chief, the better to cover the Trump White House.
“Hey guys, the Trump Effect has spread,” wrote Baker in a Facebook post. “It’s been a terrific if much too short adventure for all of us in Jerusalem — and we’re lucky to have made many new friends in these last few months. Our schedule isn’t set but we’re expecting to get back to Washington next month.”
Baker was appointed Jerusalem bureau chief in January 2016 and moved to the post later in the year. His wife, Susan Glasser, worked as editor of Politico and left the company to join him abroad. She’ll serve as Politico’s chief international columnist from Washington.
That the New York Times would yank a reporter of Baker’s stature from Jerusalem is a big deal on its own terms. As the newspaper noted upon Baker’s appointment, “There are few foreign posts as challenging, or closely scrutinized, as our chief correspondent in Israel and the Palestinian territories. There are also few foreign assignments that demand not only great reporting and writing but also an intuitive sense of Washington politics and diplomacy.”
Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet tells the Erik Wemple Blog, “obviously this is part of an effort to cover the most extraordinary story in Washington in years.” Asked whether it was his call, Baquet responded, “It was a unanimous decision — me, [Washington bureau chief Elisabeth] Bumiller, [Managing editor Joe] Kahn and [deputy managing editor Matthew] Purdy. All saw the need for a big robust team to cover an exceptional moment.”
According to Baquet, the Trump White House will face “more reporters” than the New York Times has ever had on this particular beat. “Peter is an expert on the presidency, how presidents change the job and how they fit into history. This will be an historic presidency and he should be part of the coverage,” notes Baquet via email.
Baker joined the New York Times in 2008 and previously worked at The Post and the Washington Times. He’s steeped in the intricacies of reporting on the White House and during the Obama administration delighted in nailing details on various meetings that the president held off the record with journalists and policy experts. He wrote the book “Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House” and is at work, with Glasser, on a biography of James Baker.
The following memo lays out the entire New York Times White House team:
Mark Landler, Mike Shear, Julie Davis and Maggie Haberman have been doing a sensational job breaking stories, covering 6 a.m. tweets and staying ahead of the relentless news on the transition beat.
On January 20, they’ll officially become our stellar Trump White House team, along with two terrific additions: Peter Baker, who is returning to Washington from Jerusalem, and Glenn Thrush, who is joining us from Politico.
Peter needs no introduction and Glenn is a friend to many of you. But here goes:
Peter, The Times’ Jerusalem Bureau Chief, covered the Obama White House for The Times and the George W. Bush and Clinton White Houses for The Washington Post — a total of 15 years on the beat. In between he spent four years in Moscow for The Post covering the rise of Vladimir Putin and the early months of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s written books on the Clinton impeachment and George W. Bush’s presidency, and has one coming out in May on the Obama presidency.
Glenn, Politico’s chief political correspondent and a senior staff writer for Politico Magazine, was previously Politico’s main White House correspondent. He’s a master of breaking news and long-form storytelling, but may be best known for his fedora, which Politico editors enshrined as part of the logo for Off Message, his successful podcast. His writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, The Village Voice and Guitar World, where he wrote under the pseudonym Glenn Thrash. He’s a native of Brooklyn, a graduate of Brooklyn College and managed his parents’ ice cream store in Brighton Beach.
Mark, an Obama White House reporter and the author of “Alter Egos,” about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, will be based in Washington along with Peter, Glenn and Mike and Julie, who have expertly covered the second-term Obama White House for us. Maggie, who covered the 2016 presidential race from deep inside the Clinton and Trump campaigns and has been responsible for daily scoops and tireless reporting during the transition, will be based in New York to cover the White House north and the doings at Trump Tower.
Glenn will start in the bureau on Jan. 3 and Peter soon after.
The Trump White House is going to be an extraordinary story and we’re thrilled to have such an extraordinary team covering it.
Elisabeth and Bill