In The Know

Major Garrett: CBS News’s coffee-chugging, Led Zeppelin-listening political correspondent

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He’s covered politics for more than two decades, penned three books and interviewed countless candidates and lawmakers, but not much is known about Major Garrett — something CBS News’s chief White House correspondent says is no coincidence.

“I’ve been in D.C. since 1990, and hardly anyone knows very much about me, and that’s precisely the way I like to keep it,” Garrett says. “None of what I do is about me.”

What we do know is that Garrett, who’s been on the road covering the 2016 White House race, will be a panelist for Saturday’s GOP presidential debate in Greenville, S.C., on CBS, moderated by “Face the Nation” anchor John Dickerson.

ITK wanted to learn even more about the private, coffee-loving journalism pro, so we asked him these questions.

Grew up in: San Diego

College attended: University of Missouri

What did you want to be when you were a kid? First: an oceanographer. Second: a Major League Baseball player. Third: an actor. And fourth: a
journalist.

By the time I was 13-and-a-half I realized I couldn’t do the other three. And what I realized then was that my fascination in the news and politics was the one constant thread in my life as I dreamed of doing all those other things. And then it sort of dawned on me that I should probably pay attention to the thing that had been the constant thread while I had these Walter Mitty dreams of all these other things.

Favorite hobby/activity: Photography; I would say nature photography. I’m constantly stopping the people I’m with with my iPhone, or I’ll wake up early and take my Nikon out and shoot a bunch of stuff. And I do a lot of stuff on the campaign trail, too. I have an Instagram account [@MajorCBS] where I put a lot of stuff up.

Most embarrassing/most memorable moment: I would say at 53, I’m old enough to know I haven’t had either yet. I’m sure there will be something in my life more embarrassing than I’ve experienced so far and more memorable than I’ve experienced so far.

I’ve had a lot of things in my professional career that are personally, deeply memorable to me. But that’s just for me, and my whole philosophy is I’m never the story. I never want to be part of the story. So I just sort of carry those in my own head.

As far as embarrassment, I really can’t think of anything. I’m sure others can.

Favorite band: Led Zeppelin

What you like/dislike about D.C.: I love the work. And if I’d say there’s anything I dislike about D.C., it’s the volume of work.

There is a constancy to the work of either government or politics because when one ends, the other begins. For example, covering a presidential campaign, when the final votes are tabulated, that’s not when you get to rest because that’s when a transition begins. And that is a whole different degree of work.

So when you’re most tired as a reporter, and interestingly as a president-elect, that’s some of when you have to do your hardest work. That’s the great, intoxicating part of D.C. for me, but it’s also the part that grinds you down.

If I had a theme song, it would be: “Ramble On” by Led Zeppelin

My celebrity crush is: Ralph Waldo Emerson. Seriously, I don’t care about celebrities.

I have a fear of: Heights.

Biggest pet peeve: Weak coffee — which we don’t have very much of in America anymore. It used to be far more prevalent than it is now. But occasionally I’ll come across it, and it’s very disappointing.

Best advice given: The best professional advice I’ve been given is a friend or colleague can get you a job, but only you can keep it. Meaning relationships matter, they matter a lot, and associations matter, recommendations matter, but nothing matters more than the work you do.

Getting your foot in the door is helpful, but only you keep that foot there, and only you keep yourself with a job you’ve been lucky enough to get.

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