The day seemed to be winding down for NBC’s Hallie Jackson and her fellow White House reporters when Donald Trump’s staff issued a “lid” signaling that the president-elect would not venture out of Trump Tower for the rest of the evening.
But just over an hour later, a motorcade pulled away from the building and delivered Trump and his family to the 21 Club, an upscale Manhattan steakhouse.
Jackson saw an opportunity and quickly made a reservation at the 21 Club, which enabled her to get in while other reporters were stuck outside. From her table across the dining room, she could keep an eye on Trump and publish blog posts and video of him at the restaurant.
Her creative reporting caught the attention of her competitors, who cited her work the following day. Jackson, who will deliver the Ewing Lecture on Ethics in Journalism at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy on Oct. 16, said it’s the kind of technique that’s needed in a competitive media environment. “You gotta do what you gotta do to be able to get the story,” she said.
Jackson’s reporting skills have earned her one of the most prominent jobs in American journalism. She is NBC’s chief White House correspondent and frequently appears on NBC Nightly News, Today and Meet the Press. She also anchors MSNBC’s daily program Live with Hallie Jackson.
She accompanied President Trump on his first foreign trip and scored an exclusive interview with Ivanka Trump following a visit to Germany.
“Slamming the media is something that, frankly, plays well with the president’s supporters, so why wouldn’t he do it?”
Jackson is known for her tough questions. She grilled Ted Cruz on whether he would endorse Trump and has irked White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders so much that Sanders chided, “Be respectful.”
Jackson, 33, earned praise for her coverage of the Republican candidates during the primaries. As others dropped out of the race, she focused on Cruz and then Trump.
Jackson was born and raised in Yardley, Pennsylvania. She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Johns Hopkins University. During her sophomore year, she worked at a New York public television station and was “bit by the broadcast bug.” For the remainder of her college career, she interned at WBAL in Baltimore.
After graduating in 2006, Jackson worked as a reporter for WBOC in Maryland and then WFSB in Connecticut before becoming a reporter in the Washington bureau of Hearst Television, where her stories aired nationally with the chain’s 26 affiliates. She left Hearst in 2014 to work as a reporter in NBC’s Los Angeles bureau.
After the 2016 election, Jackson was promoted to covering the White House. She said the round-the-clock demands of the beat and NBC’s programs means “not a ton of sleep and not a ton of personal time.” But she is energized by the fast-paced environment and recognizes the importance of her work.
“It’s one of the biggest stories in the world,” she said. “Who wouldn’t want to be covering Donald Trump’s administration right now?”
Jackson is adept at producing content for many platforms. On the photo- and video-sharing app Snapchat, for example, she posts raw news footage and behind-the-scenes videos of her team. She said she loves covering the White House but would like to incorporate more field reporting. “It’s so important to tell Washington stories from beyond Washington,” she said.
Covering Trump can be challenging for even the most seasoned journalist. He routinely insults reporters on Twitter and accuses them of publishing “fake news.” But Jackson takes it in stride. She believes that his New York upbringing endowed him with a deep understanding of the media.
“Slamming the media is something that, frankly, plays well with the president’s supporters, so why wouldn’t he do it?” Jackson said. “As a journalist, you just have to have a thick skin and keep doing accountability journalism.”