How A High School Reporter Scored An Interview With The US Secretary Of Defense
James Mattis, US Defense Secretary, rarely gives interviews to news outlets — and if he does, they’re not very long.
The retired four-star Marine Corps General pretty much dropped from the national spotlight as the Trump administration battles several investigations about whether aides colluded with Russia during the campaign. One official reportedly said, “He sees no value in having his name in the paper.”
The photo that revealed Mattis’ cell phone number.
So when he gave a student at the Mercer Island High School newspaper a 45-minute interview in late June that resulted in a nearly 6,000 word article — covering topics like ISIS and the differences between the Trump and Obama administrations — the big question was: How?
Teddy Fischer described the process to BuzzFeed News as “miracle after miracle.”
In May, Fischer, who will be a junior at the Seattle-area high school in fall, came across an article from the Washington Post about President’s Trump’s longtime bodyguard. The photo showed Trump’s bodyguard walking with a stack of papers, and on a yellow piece of paper was a Mattis’ cell phone number.
Fischer called the number. No one responded, and Fischer didn’t leave a message.
So he texted Mattis instead, stating who he was, that he was from Mattis’ home state, Washington, and that he was writing an article on US foreign policy. (Fischer wasn’t — at the time.)
Fischer saved the number in his phone as “Jim M.” A week later, while in his journalism class, Fischer looked down at his phone to see “Jim M’ calling.
"I didn’t think this would happen so when he called, I wasn’t ready. It was a little awkward because I think he was ready to do it right on the spot,” Fischer told BuzzFeed News.