When he was 15 years old, Daniel Lippman interrogated White House officials about trade agreements and energy policy. He queried the attorney general about the Patriot Act and asked Neil Armstrong if humans could really go to Mars.
As the “lone regular” on the Ask the White House online forum, the teen-aged news junkie attracted attention from The New Yorker, which wrote that “like many boys his age, Daniel has an Internet habit his parents don’t really understand. He interviews mid-level Bush administration bureaucrats.”
When he was in college, Lippman developed a habit of sending polite corrections to reporters when he noticed a misspelled name or a broken hyperlink in their stories. He was so well-known that the NPR program On the Media aired a segment about him in which Ron Fournier, Washington bureau chief for the Associated Press, described receiving corrections from Lippman on “nearly three-quarters” of his stories. After discovering that Lippman was not “a gray-bearded law professor,” Fournier invited the college student for a tour of the AP’s newsroom and introduced him to other reporters.
“I don’t know if I could have turned as many heads if I had brought the president of the United States in,” Fournier said.
Today, Lippman, 27, has channeled his curiosity and finicky talents into a high-profile job as a reporter for the Politico Playbook, a daily news download for Washington influencers.
Lippman, who will be featured at the Lunch and Learn event hosted by Duke University’s Center for Political Leadership, Innovation and Service (POLIS) on Nov. 13, starts his day at 3:30 am. He spends the next two hours writing Playbook with fellow authors Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman.
“We’re reading a lot of news, and we’re also looking in our inbox for tips that our sources have sent us,” Lippman said.
Playbook is a compilation of political news from the previous day, scoops about top officials’ upcoming agendas and tidbits on Washington social events. In just a few hours, Playbook is built from an empty Google Doc into a newsletter that lands in more than 100,000 subscribers’ inboxes. “It’s kind of a miracle,” Lippman said.
For the rest of the day, Lippman works his beat. He talks with sources, gives television and radio interviews and follows news coverage.
Lippman graduated from George Washington University in 2012 and then interned for The Wall Street Journal and HuffPost. In 2013, he wrote about the Syrian civil war for HuffPost and CNN.com. He returned to cover environmental news for E&E Publishing and then joined Politico, where he teamed up with legendary political reporter Mike Allen, the founder of Playbook.
When Allen left to start Axios, Lippman, Palmer, and Sherman took over Playbook. “Mike was a mentor and good friend, so we had big shoes to fill,” Lippman said.
Since Allen’s departure, the Playbook team has started a podcast and an afternoon newsletter.
“We feel like we’ve taken a great product and made it even better,” Lippman said.