Berkeley Talks: Journalist Nahal Toosi on national security reporting under Trump

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A reporter holds up her phone to record Trump speaking during a press conference

“Even to this day, now more than three years later, they (the Trump administration) do things and my immediate instinct is, ‘Well, they can’t do that.’ And then, I have to train myself, like, ‘Wait, wait, come on. You’ve reported on this. You know that they’re going to do this.'” (Office of the President of the Republic of Finland photo by Matti Porre via Flickr)

“One myth I think that increasingly people are realizing, and I think Trump has accelerated this, is that national security is really about military and crime,” said Politico reporter Nahal Toosi at a UC Berkeley event in March. …I think what we’re learning increasingly is that it’s about the economy. It’s about cyber issues. It’s about climate. It’s about migration. It’s about the coronavirus.

“…I’m having to work with our health reporters because we’re realizing these things are all coming together. So, it’s not just about war and it’s not just about the FBI or whatever. It’s all these other things that have to work together.”

Toosi joined professor Mark Danner at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism on March 2, 2020, to discuss what it’s been like working as a foreign affairs correspondent during the Trump administration.

“The good news under Trump is that there are a lot more people willing to talk,” said Toosi. “Within weeks, people were losing their minds. … Even to this day, now more than three years later, they do things and my immediate instinct is, ‘Well, they can’t do that.’ And then, I have to train myself, like, ‘Wait, wait, come on. You’ve reported on this. You know that they’re going to do this.’ So, the the key lesson for me was: Don’t assume that anything in Washington, DC, is permanent — not a norm, not a rule, not a law and definitely not an institution.”

The event was sponsored by the Graduate School of Journalism, in collaboration with the Pultizer Center for Crisis Reporting, the Institute for Governmental Studies and the Goldman School of Public Policy.

Listen to Toosi’s talk, followed by a discussion with Danner and a Q&A with the audience in Berkeley Talks episode #85: “Journalist Nahal Toosi on national security reporting under Trump.”

Politico reporter Nahal Toosi spoke at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism in March 2020. (Berkeley Journalism video)