New York Times White House Correspondent Maggie Haberman ’96 Speaks at Sarah Lawrence College

Discusses the challenges facing the media in the current political climate as part of the College’s Democracy and Education series

New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman ’96 gave a packed house a glimpse of what it’s like to be a journalist covering the Trump administration at an event at Sarah Lawrence College on June 9.

A 1996 graduate of Sarah Lawrence, Haberman’s appearance on Saturday was part of the College’s reunion weekend—open to an audience of alumni and the public—and was the culminating event in its yearlong series on Democracy and Education.

In a question and answer session with Sarah Lawrence College President Cristle Collins Judd, Haberman spoke about journalism in the digital age, the erosion of US institutions, and how she handles the unintentional notoriety of covering Donald Trump.

A political analyst for CNN in addition to her job at The New York Times, she previously worked for Politico, the New York Daily News, and the New York Post. She covered the 2016 Presidential election and was part of a team at the Times that won a Pulitzer Prize this year for reporting on Donald Trump’s advisers and their connections to Russia.

Describing her life as “the long day that never ends,’’ Haberman said reporting in the digital age is an exhausting job, especially when coupled with raising a family. She said that she spends time shuttling between Brooklyn and Washington, DC and that her days normally begin at 6 a.m. and end well after midnight.

Haberman said Twitter and Trump’s habit of denigrating the news media and dragging reporters into the spotlight have made it difficult for them to maintain objectivity.

“No other President has treated the media as one of their peers,’’ she said, adding, “he doesn’t fundamentally get the relationship between the President and the press corps.’’

Haberman said while she appears on CNN and uses social media to extend her writings to a larger audience, she is uncomfortable with her role in the spotlight and believes that reporters who share their opinions publically are, in part, responsible for the loss of public confidence in the news media.

“It is vital that we are not seen as taking sides,’’ she said. Quoting a democratic strategist source, Haberman added that Twitter leaves “an evidence trail that people will use against you.”

President Judd, returning to the theme of Democracy and Education, asked Haberman what advice she has for students, alumni, and the general public about safeguarding democracy.

In response, Haberman stressed the importance of people educating themselves about the fundamentals of government. She added that she is alarmed by the “lax reaction to the erosion of institutions” and the “misunderstanding of the limits of those institutions.”

She added that news literacy and public participation are vital. “Participating is not writing an angry blog post,’’ she said.

Asked by President Judd how her Sarah Lawrence education figured in her work and life 22 years after graduating, Haberman said that she appreciated the values and skills she learned at the College.

“I am grateful for my time here at Sarah Lawrence and to be in a place that valued critical thinking,’’ she said.


About Sarah Lawrence College

Founded in 1926, Sarah Lawrence is a prestigious, coeducational liberal arts college that consistently ranks among the leading liberal arts colleges in the country. Sarah Lawrence is known for its pioneering approach to education, rich history of impassioned intellectual and civic engagement, and vibrant, successful alumni. In close proximity to the unparalleled offerings of New York City, the historic campus is home to an intellectually curious and diverse community.