I delivered the Boston Herald when I was a kid. It was a way to make a little money. And I started out with a small route, but it expanded over time where I actually had a pretty good little enterprise going. When it snowed, I would still do it on my bike as much as I could, even though the snow sometimes would be up to my hips. But that was my first introduction to actually having the paper in my hands every day. And I would sometimes sit on the front porch and read — if there was something great on the front page or the sports page — and I’d be a little late because I would read before I went.
My first introduction to [politics] was really my dad. In those days, Boston was first a three-, and then a two-, newspaper town. And my dad always read the papers every day, always watched the news and was active in the local union. My dad was high-school educated, a blue-collar guy. He was a jail guard, but he just believed that you should pay attention. My parents both died very young. And it burns me every day of my life that I couldn’t give back to people who gave so much to me. One of the things I try to do is remember who I am, and that’s who I am. I’m the son of two hardworking blue-collar people. And I’m one of seven. I was a paperboy, and I was a dishwasher, and I was a mover, and I was a bartender. And I’m lucky now to be a journalist.
My dad died right before my first trip to Iowa with Mike Dukakis. My mom saw me cover the ’88 campaign and the first Gulf War. I snuck into this little town called Khafji to cover this battle in the first Gulf War, and the Pentagon was trying to keep the reporters away from the action. And I snuck in with an AP photographer. It was actually the first time I was ever on television — the network morning shows —when we came out of Khafji and wrote the stories that the military was lying. They were saying that there were no troops in there, and there were American troops in there. And we wrote the story, and I think I did “The Today Show,” and I still have the handwritten note my mother sent me at the time. It said, “Your father would be very proud of you.” And the last part of it was funny. It said, “Come home now.” It was literally two sentences: “Dear Johnny, Your father would be very proud of you. Come home now.”