Nancy Pelosi: What I Read

The minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives is "addicted" to newspapers, loves to get the local journal wherever she goes, and can't do without her New York Times crossword puzzle.

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How do people deal with the torrent of information pouring down on us all? What sources can't they live without? We regularly reach out to prominent figures in media, entertainment, politics, the arts and the literary world, to hear their answers. This is drawn from a conversation with Nancy Pelosi, minority leader of the House of Representatives, who recently marked her 25th anniversary of serving California's 8th district in San Francisco. 

When it comes to consuming news, I’m an insatiable beast. I am an insatiable newspaper reader, and now, of course, electronically, I can even have more opportunity, a bigger diet. In the morning it depends on where I am, and if I’m in San Francisco, which is my home, I get the papers there first thing: The [San Francisco] Chronicle and The New York Times. Beyond that, the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today would be part of what I would read on any given day. I don’t get them all at the house because I don’t want them piling up when I’m not there.

When we’re on the West Coast you’re in the different place, in terms of the markets already being open, so in the morning my first news would probably be CNBC, because it covers the markets, just to see how they’re doing, to see what’s happening to the economy. Then on my smart phone almost everything else: AP, Washington PostUSA Today, Huffington Post, Giants on SFGate (appropriate to the season) on iPhone.

Let me just say that two of my main interests in the news are sports and the stock exchange, because they're numbers. When I was growing up, I read the newspaper cover to cover all the time. Ships in port, phases of the moon, stock market, sports, as well as the other news of the day. Anything that has to do with the numbers has an appeal to me. It’s objective. It’s not anybody’s opinion.

When I'm in Washington, it’s The Washington Post and The New York Times. I’m soon out the door, getting the others: Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the rest. I read these papers pretty fast, and since you read it every day, you know basically what the story is so you’re reading the continuation. Or what’s new. So it doesn’t take that long to read all of that. But I love reading the paper. I’m just addicted to it. It’s an old-fashioned notion, but it is what I do.

I travel a lot so I always read the local metropolitan journal, for lack of a better term, and I watch the news. When I’m traveling to cities, as I’m doing mostly every week, I like to see the news as it is presented in those communities. And of course read the local papers. So this weekend I was in Boston so I read the Boston Globe, and then I was in New York so of course The Times, Daily News, Post, the weekend Wall Street Journal. I love The Wall Street Journal. As I always say, two dollars, two papers: You have wonderful reporting, then of course the editorial page. And I realize that my insatiable appetite for the news is going to make me be relying more electronically on receiving some of this because it does weigh a lot to carry a lot of these on the plane if I haven’t read them before I left. People laugh at me on the plane because they always can depend on me to be handing out newspapers.

During the day I’m working and I’ll have the TV on in case something breaks -- usually the House floor, sometimes the Senate -- but I really am attending to my work for most of the day. My daughter Christine and my wonderful communications staff keep me attuned to anything that is breaking that I need to know in real time. I think it’s important to note that if you miss something, that’s OK. You can’t absorb it all. I mean, I have a job to do and I have a family to keep, and the rest. But in the course of the day as news breaks, just as anyone else, I’ll look up, but otherwise I’m hopefully making news with the legislation that we’re either stopping or starting on the floor of the house or instigating on the steps of the Capitol or something like that.

In the course of any day, if I have time, mostly when I’m on planes, I read magazines. And that’s as much for relaxation as information gathering. I try to read as much as I possibly can but you know, it could be one time I’ll read Rolling Stone cover-to-cover, another time it might be The Atlantic, another time it might be something I’ve been reading for decades, Businessweek now Bloomberg Businessweek.

I’m not a big TV person. I guess like anybody else around now, I get some of my news from Colbert and Stewart late at night as well. My daughter Christine is on Current TV on Wednesday nights, so I’ve now introduced Current into my array of things. I have one favorite TV show, called Person of Interest. It’s absolutely fabulous. You go see it one of these times and you’ll be intrigued. It’s all about technology and how the government has all this information.

I do ESPN all the time. And I do Giants, but that’s seasonal of course. I do the San Francisco Giants’ website. When you’re with a team, it gets very personal. It’s like you want to know every single thing about every single person that is playing. Not necessarily their politics, but their good health and their fitness, and the rest. I think that when the World Cup was on I watched almost every match. The hockey games to the Stanley Cup conclusion (go LA!). I watched Wimbledon most recently, as much as possible, and sometimes I had to watch it very late at night. The Williams sisters were so fabulous, and too bad for England that Murray did not win, but good for Federer that he won his seventh Wimbledon.

I have a day job, and I have to do that. But I have a Twitter account, I have all of that, and I interact in that way. But again, I’m not 24/7. You know we live in a wonderful world now. When I first came to Congress we had three networks and the beginning of CNN. And now as I tell my members, we live in a world of choice. People don’t have to go any one place or any three places for their news. We have such an array of choices. So I avail myself of all of those opportunities. But I don’t have time to just do that.

But my main, absolute must-do — I stayed up last night, started at one o’clock, ended at two o’clock to do it — The New York Times crossword puzzle. I couldn’t do it on Sunday because I was busy all day with events for the Democrats. That was like, "I really should go to sleep but I have to do this puzzle right now." So that is an absolute must, to get that puzzle and get that done. That’s my real relaxation.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.