Big shout out to Shane Harris and his piece on Mark Knoller, “the unofficial White House statistician” that just about every White House flack and hack has relied on to keep meticulous stats on the presidential ongoings. From stump speeches to the putting green, Knoller knows just how many appearances the last three presidents have made on each along with a slew of random Pennsylvania Ave. trivia. Harris’ profile in this month’s Washingtonian is well worth the read for an inside look at one of the most recognizable faces in White House reporting.
Knoller spends about 90 minutes each workday combing through the President’s schedule, transcripts, and pool reports, distilling the day into a factual record. He adds short explanations about what was in the news that day, putting the official tick-tock into some context. “I’m writing this with the idea that I might go back and read this two years from now,” he says.
He performs this ritual at least five days a week, often seven. “The only way to do this is to do it contemporaneously, otherwise you’ll miss something,” he says. “I’m sure there are errors in the logs. But they’re as close to perfect as I can make them.”