You’ve probably noticed something different about The Daily over the past few weeks.
There are new hosts. Several of them, in fact. Which give?
Here’s the story: my wife and I had a baby, so for the next few months I won’t be working every day which will give you a chance to hear more voices on the show – colleagues (and frequent guests) like political correspondent Astead Herndon, national correspondent Sabrina Tavernise and tech columnist Kevin Roose.
I’m not going anywhere – I’m still going to host the show several days a week and tell you, in a weirdly inflected way, what else you need to know today.
And over the next few weeks, in this newsletter, I’m going to introduce our guest hosts to you by asking them the kinds of questions I would ask anyone on the show.
Today we start with Astead, a journalist whose work I have admired for years.
Michael: So Astead, in your aggressive Midwestern world, not quite al-dente-pasta lover growing up, what were your earliest journalistic influences? Who have you read or watched and thought to yourself, oh, I wanna be THAT person!
Astead: I read the Chicago Tribune growing up, but mostly for the sports section. The early sports writers were really my first introduction to the profession – especially the ones covering the Chicago Bulls and the NBA In high school, I joined the school newspaper and published a column called “Get in Astead’s Head Where I wrote about expensive prom fees and candy sales and other important matters. But when I went to college, I thought I wanted to work in politics – especially as a speechwriter – not write about politics.
Michael: OK, I’ll bite.
Please give me an example line from “Get in Astead’s Head”.
Astead: LOL – I’m not sure I have a sample line on hand. And watching him would be really, really embarrassing. I will say I asked my girlfriend from high school to prom using the column. We did a graphic of the two of us in formal clothes and it was a huge success.
Michael: Well done.
So you wanted to be a political actor, not just an observer? Has this ever happened?
Astead: That was the plan. But I really hated the political science classes and the little interactions I had with political campaigns in my first year. I became a major in journalism, but the big change for me was doing AmeriCorps and teaching small groups of kids on the north side of Milwaukee. And that led to an educational reporting internship that I loved at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It merged the journalism I knew from sportsland with the social issues that interested me.
Michael: Ah. So this seems like a pivotal moment – are you starting to see journalism as a kind of social good?
Astead: Yes! And the experience in the newsroom was very different from what I had in the classroom. I had the impression that journalism courses were sterile and that they taught us that being impartial was a condition for success. At Journal Sentinel, this was not true. I have met so many people who are very concerned about their pace and systemic injustice. Journalism was a way of telling the truth to this – in a clearer way than campaigns or political parties.
I have already mentioned this in The Daily, but my father is a pastor. Basically I think I needed a job that I felt was a calling, and journalism started to fill it.
Michael: I got you.
You’re going to Boston, I swear, I’m not the one trying to get you to tell the story of The Bribe. But could you, in short?
Astead: I appreciate that you started this!
I had an internship at the Boston Globe after college which turned into a full time gig. And that first year, I was a general assignment reporter who really focused on local crime, politics, and just the news of the day. The story you are talking about was one day on an arraignment that was assigned to me to cover up an alleged real estate scammer. At the courthouse, the father of the alleged scammer offered me $ 10,000 to leave the building and not write history.
I declined and we wrote a two-part family history of real estate fraud series that ended with an attorney general investigation.
Michael: Now that turns lemons into lemonade! And I have to say it’s an amazing amount of money NOT to do something!
Astead: If he had the editor I had at the time, he would know 10k wasn’t enough to make his anger.
Michael: MDR. So, accommodation! You’ve been doing it for a few weeks, wonderfully. How did it go, going from guest to host? Weird? Awesome? Both?
Astead: There is a real difference between hosting and guest, and I think as a host I have learned to appreciate different ways of influencing an episode. These are not YOUR thoughts or YOUR ideas, but I have learned to take great pride in speaking to reporters and putting them at ease in a medium that can be difficult (in the same way you helped me when I was working for the first time).
I also appreciate the extreme work ethic of the Daily team. You juggle multiple topics at the same time, and for me it’s really fun talking about things that aren’t politics.
Michael: It’s a pretty incredible team.
Astead: My favorite part, to be honest, is talking to reporters I didn’t know in the NYT newsroom. People like Jan Hoffman and Coral Davenport were personalities I knew and loved, but connecting with them to do an episode really helps you feel like a newsroom ambassador. It was the most unexpected joy.
Michael: Well, on behalf of all of our team, I want to thank you for being so free to work with us and I humbly ask that you continue to do so, with your permission.
A few years ago, an employee at the Vienna airport came across an old black pistol in the bathroom. A police sting operation revealed that the weapon belonged to a German army officer, known as Franco A. His story, however, would prove to be darker and stranger than it first appeared. departure – and was part of an alleged far-right assassination plot. bring down the German government.
That’s the story we tell in our new series, Day X, hosted by Katrin Bennhold, Berlin bureau chief for The Times.
In five episodes, Katrin and producers Lynsea Garrison, Clare Toeniskoetter and Kaitlin Roberts attempt to attack a national network of far-right extremism within the German police and military. Some have called it a shadow army, a loaded phrase that evokes the nation’s dark past. Now Katrin explains why this moment is not just an account for Germany, but rather raises a question that democracies around the world are waking up to: what if the threat comes from within?
The music for this series was composed by Hauschka, an Oscar nominated German composer and pianist. You can check out his website here.
You can expect to hear more of the series on Thursdays at nytimes.com/dayx or every Friday of the following month on Le Quotidien.
The Daily, Live: Meet the people behind the Odessa series
This year, we followed the reopening of a high school in Texas during the pandemic. But where are these teachers and students now? And what awaits us? Join Michael Barbaro and the Daily team to catch up with them and mark the end of a school year like no other in Odessa. Times subscribers can RSVP for this free event on June 10 at 6 p.m. EST.
Daily this week
Monday: Could a financial misconduct investigation be the loss of America’s most powerful gun rights group?
Tuesday: The story of one of the most important student free speech cases before the Supreme Court in half a century.