Hamburger, Harris: top political journalists with Rochester roots

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As the Nov. 3 vote looms, attendees of an upcoming Rochester Beacon online event will have a chance to gain an informed perspective on what promises to be one of the most consequential and most fraught national elections in U.S. history.

Slated to start at noon Oct. 6, the one-hour Zoom event features a conversation between two veteran political journalists: Tom Hamburger, Washington Post investigative reporter and MSNBC analyst, and John Harris, Politico cofounder and columnist.

The event, moderated by Rochester Beacon publisher Alex Zapesochny, is free but registration is required. 

Now Washington, D.C.-based habitues of the upper echelons of national politics, both men grew up and attended public schools in suburban Rochester, Hamburger in Brighton and Harris in Pittsford. They will trade thoughts and share insights on the upcoming election and the current state of the media.

Tom Hamburger

As a national desk reporter for the Post, Hamburger has covered the White House, Congress and federal regulatory agencies, focusing on the intersection of politics and money. With Peter Wallsten, he coauthored the 2007 book “One Party Country: The Republican Plan for Dominance in the 21st Century.” His many awards include a 2018 Pulitzer Prizeand George Polk Award won for work as part of a team probing the Trump administration’s and Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Hamburger also was a 2018 finalist for a Goldsmith Award for Investigative Reporting.

Among recent articles on which Hamburger’s byline has appeared are an analysis of the relationship between Trump and Attorney General William Barr and former 2016 Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s connection to Russian disinformation.

After spending two decades as a political reporter for the Washington Post, Harris was named the newspaper’s national political editor in 2006. A year later, he cofounded Politico with Post colleague Jim VandeHei. After working the White House beat from 2001 to 2003, Harris wrote a book on the Clinton presidency, “The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House,” published in 2005. With journalist Mark Halperin, he also coauthored a 2006 book foreshadowing Barack Obama’s election as president, “The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008.”

John Harris

In little more than a decade, Politico has become one of the country’s leading political news sites. In 2018, it reported 26 million monthly unique visitors to the U.S. website and more than 1.5 million unique visitors to the European site.

Until 2019, Harris served as Politico’s editor-in-chief. Since stepping down from that position, he has written Altitude, a weekly column offering “perspective on politics in a moment of radical disruption.” Recent columns have looked at the battle in Washington triggered by the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Bob Woodward’s book on Trump.

In a November 2019 interview with Rochester Beacon Washington correspondent Peter Lovenheim, Harris discussed the importance of the role journalists play in a democracy and voiced concern about the state of local journalism.

“Somebody’s got to be covering the machinations of power—government power, business power,” he said. “At Politico we found a model that works in this environment—the national capital—but it’s not necessarily replicable at the local level.”

As the days to the election dwindle, the contest for the White House between incumbent Republican Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, grows increasingly tense. 

Already marked by unexpected flash points including a still-raging coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans and sparked a deep recession, the election took another sudden turn last week with Ginsburg’s death. 

The conversation with Hamburger and Harris will take place a week after Biden and Trump are slated to verbally joust in the first of three scheduled presidential debates and one day before Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, squares off on the debate stage with Vice President Mike Pence.

Armbruster Capital Managementthe Burke Group and the Estate, Legacy and Long-Term Care Planning Center of Western NY are presenting sponsors of the Beacon event. Bond, Schoeneck & King is a gold sponsor.

Will Astor is Rochester Beacon senior writer.

One thought on “Hamburger, Harris: top political journalists with Rochester roots

  1. Why are there two media types from the left? Wouldn’t some diversity be more interesting with one journalist from the left and one from the right.

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