Mark Mazzetti: What I Read
The New York Times national security correspondent and author of The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth, is a fan of Homeland — despite covering the C.I.A., and despite the liberties the show takes.
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 telephone conversation with New York Times national security correspondent Mark Mazzetti, whose new book on the changing landscape of American warfare, The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth, was published Tuesday.
I wake up to Morning Edition, and after that get on the New York Times website first. Even though I'm working for the Times, I kind of know what's going to be in the paper that day. Stuff happens overnight, so I'm looking at breaking news, and checking out my competitors — the Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times — either on their websites, or...usually on their websites. But sometimes I'll look at Twitter to see who's reporting what, and what I have to know about before I go into the office, and who beat me on which particular story.
There are a lot of really good reporters on my beat, so I will look out for Greg Miller, Julie Tate, and Joby Warrick at the Washington Post; Siobhan Gorman, Adam Entous, and Julian Barnes at The Wall Street Journal; Ken Dilanian at the Los Angeles Times; and Kimberly Dozier, Adam Goldman, and Matt Apuzzo at the Associated Press. We're all sort of toiling in the same vineyard, so those are the ones I worry about.
I'm kind of late to Twitter, which is a little embarassing, but I'm getting more into it as a news feed. I'm not an active tweeter myself, but I've become more of an active follower on Twitter, and so I do see the incredible benefit of finding out things in real-time that can appear faster than a website can post them. Drunk Predator Drone, I follow that. Josh Rogin at Foreign Policy has a really good Twitter feed. He's really on top of it, in terms of really breaking foreign policy news. Laura Rozen is very good.
Danger Room at Wired is really good. Stuff in The Atlantic I track. Things that are more specific, like The Long War Journal, which tracks drone strikes, I try to keep track of that. Lawfare, I read frequently. It tracks various legal questions surrounding counter-terrorism, and they've got a lot of very smart writers working on it. There are a number of bloggers that dig into these issues, like Marcy Wheeler. A lot of reporters will be reading her blog on these issues, to get a sense of her take.
I subscribe to The New Yorker. We get a lot of magazines at the office — we get The New Republic, The Weekly Standard. But The New Yorker is the only magazine I get at home. We also get The Atlantic at the office! (Laughs.) I get the Times delivered at home. My wife takes it. Since I work here, I read stories during the day before they go into print, so I'm more familiar with what's in the paper. And yes, I think everyone should continue to read the print New York Times.
I just finished a book, so I'm looking forward to getting back to reading things that are not related to the subject I was writing about. I just got back from a short vacation and finished a book which I loved, The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien. It's awesome. I loved The Art of Fielding. I thought it was terrific. The ensemble of characters were really well-drawn. It took me way too long to read, because I kept putting it off, picking it up and putting it down. But I read The Things They Carried in a day.
News outlets that I cannot live without: I have to say the Times, I have to say the Post, and I would have to say BBC. Their website is really good, I look at it a lot. Especially when I'm trying to figure out what's going on in Yemen, or Somalia, or Pakistan, they have really good coverage.
I go to the gym far less frequently than I would like to (or should), but when I go I watch ESPN, as a break from thinking about work. I'm a Yankees fan, although I suspect it's going to be hard to be a Yankees fan this season.
I watch Breaking Bad, Homeland, Mad Men (although I didn't see it Sunday night), a lot of HBO shows. I watch the NFL fairly religiously. I'm a 49ers fan, so I'm looking forward to next season. I'm starting Katherine Boo's book about Mumbai, but I'm just in the beginning of that, and looking forward to reading the rest of it.
I'm halfway through the second season of Homeland, so don't tell me the ending. People criticized it for kind of getting a little bit far-fetched. I don't know how it ends, and I've managed to hold it off this long not knowing, but so far I like it. I don't like it as much as Season 1. I think they've got some very smart story lines. Covering the C.I.A., you can look at a show that's, you know, an entertainment show and say, well, that's completely ridiculous. But it's entertainment. I do find it amazing that a C.I.A. officer can carry out an affair with this guy, who is a suspected al Qaeda agent. But it's fun to watch, so I won't criticize the liberties that they take, and I hope the show keeps going. It's better than 95 percent of what else is on, so I'll take it.