Feature

Mark Knoller’s presidential obsession

The CBS radio reporter has compiled a treasure trove of trivia about every president from Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama.

Mark Knoller is obsessed with the presidency, says Elizabeth Williamson in The Wall Street Journal. The stocky, rumpled radio reporter for CBS has covered the White House since 1975, while fastidiously compiling a treasure trove of trivia about every president from Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama. He’s kept notes and details on every trip the president takes, at home or abroad; bill signings; vetoes; pardons; every word of every speech; meetings with foreign leaders; hours spent jogging or playing tennis or basketball; social events; and more. If he doesn’t write it all down and file it, Knoller explains, “a lot of this vaporizes. I’ve got an assessment of the presidency that others don’t.” He can tell you how many presidents have promised “not to rest until every American has a job” (five), how many words were spoken in the recent White House health-care summit with Republicans (60,000), and how many trips President George W. Bush made to his ranch in Texas over eight years (77, spanning all or part of 490 days).

Knoller, a 58-year-old bachelor, last took a vacation a decade ago. The work “gives me a sense of achievement, fulfillment, contentment,” he says. “I really long for very little else.” After his 12-hour days, he eats a late dinner at a diner, rereading six newspapers, and then places them carefully in his car trunk, in case he wants to read them again. “That is me at its essence,” he says. “A trunk stuffed with newspapers.”

Recommended

Germany's center-left Social Democrats narrowly beat Merkel's bloc
Olaf Scholz
Germany votes

Germany's center-left Social Democrats narrowly beat Merkel's bloc

San Marino residents vote overwhelmingly to legalize abortion
A nun votes in San Marino.
referendums

San Marino residents vote overwhelmingly to legalize abortion

Switzerland votes to make same-sex marriage legal
Supporters of same-sex marriage celebrate in Switzerland.
it's about time

Switzerland votes to make same-sex marriage legal

Initial German exit polls show startlingly close race
German election.
neck-and-neck

Initial German exit polls show startlingly close race

Most Popular

Jimmy Fallon and Nicole Kidman almost make it through interview without awkwardness
Jimmy Fallon and Nicole Kidman
Last Night on Late Night

Jimmy Fallon and Nicole Kidman almost make it through interview without awkwardness

7 cartoons about America's vaccine fights
Editorial Cartoon.
Feature

7 cartoons about America's vaccine fights

Democrats are governing like Republicans
A donkey.
Picture of W. James Antle IIIW. James Antle III

Democrats are governing like Republicans