Friday Feature: Mark Knoller
Every Friday, The Hotline's Latest Edition features a profile a media figure. From all walks of the industry, we ask questions varying from the personal to the absurd. Today, we thought readers would enjoy our latest Friday Feature, Mark Knoller.
Mark is an award-winning White House Correspondent for CBS News. You can catch him on CBS Radio daily. If you're reading about the White House, you're also probably following him on Twitter -- he's a must-follow for updates for the White House and historical details. He's covered every president since Gerald Ford. Before joining CBS News in 1988, for 13 years, he covered everything from presidential campaigns to hurricanes to Elvis Presley for the AP Radio Network. Without further ado, here is our Friday Feature!
Where's your hometown? And what was it like growing up there?
Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Fond memories of Flatbush. We used to play punchball in the street (like baseball with a pink Spalding or Pennsy Pinky that you punch and then run the bases. Past the sewer was a groundrule double. If a car drove down the street, it was a do-over.) Loved the subway as a kid - which was elevated in my section of Brooklyn. Great rite of passage was first time I was allowed to take the subway on my own.
What were you like in high school?
Went to Midwood HS, about 20 years after Woody Allen was a student there. Applied for but not accepted into 11th grade journalism class. Still resent that. Student government was fashioned after the City of New York: Mayor, Comptroller, President of the Student Council. I ran for office with the clever slogan "Knoller for Comptroller." I won.
What's your most embarrassing on-the-job moment? (Or as embarrassing as you'd like to reveal?)
I'll get back to you. Next question.
Who's your favorite fictional president? Historical president?
No actor more presidential than Henry Fonda in "Fail-Safe" (1964), though his decision to nuke New York City was ill-advised. Also, Frederic March had great presidential bearing in "Seven Days in May." More recently, couldn't help but like John Goodman as "Pres. Walken" for a few episodes of "The West Wing" in 2003. Among real presidents: would have loved to have covered Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt.
What's been the most memorable moment covering a president?
Remember being deeply moved on a few occasions including the 50th Anniversary of D-Day on Pres. Clinton's trip to Normandy. Also his visits to Babi-Yar and Rwanda had me tearing up too.
What is the most memorable commentary you've received from a superior?
Still waiting for one.
If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Soundtack from Goldfinger (1964) Music by John Barry. Vocal by Shirley Bassey.
Who would play you in a movie?
If only Pavarotti were still alive.
Who do you look up to as a journalist?
My White House booth mate for 20 years now: Bill Plante. Great reporter, writer, classiest guy in journalism and puts up with my rants and attempts at humor.
If you could have one super power to aid you in your job, what would it be?
X-ray vision and super-hearing has served me well these many years.
Following you on Twitter, people learn the most obscure trivia. What's your favorite trivia?
Declining to accept your characterization of my various databases and presidential activity logs as "trivia" and "obscure," I keep records because I find the information interesting. Favorite: can a parent choose between one child and another?
What's your guilty pleasure on TV and favorite political movie?
I get a hoot out of the cable shows about pawn shops. The 1964 film "Seven Days in May." Great cast. Terrific script by Rod Serling. Love the dramatic opening music by Jerry Goldsmith. Great director John Frankenheimer. Favorite scene: showdown between Chairman of the Joint Chiefs plotting an overthrow of the Government (Burt Lancaster), and his aide Col. 'Jiggs' Casey, who blew the whistle on him (Kirk Douglas). And though you didn't but should've asked my favorite journalism movies: Ron Howard's "The Paper" (1994) and Humphrey Bogart in "Deadline: USA" (1952).
Favorite Halloween costume?
Still have my Walter Mondale mask from the 1984 campaign.
What is your favorite "newsroom meal"?
Still waiting for a Slurpee© machine to be installed in the press room vending area. Recommend the sugar-free Cherry-Lime.
What time do you go to bed?
Usually fall asleep with the TV on between 11p and midnight. Up around 630AM.
If you weren't working as a journalist, what would you be doing?
NYC subway motorman.
In one sentence, your best advice to young, fresh-out-of-college journalists.
Take any job in journalism just to get your foot in the door.
What has been your favorite moment so far in the 2012 presidential race?
White House posts beer recipes. Ale to the Chief.
Finish this sentence: Today I ...
... mistakenly agreed to do this Hotline Q&A.
Editor's Note: National Journal and CBS News have been partners for 2012 presidential election coverage.