The Fatherly Questionnaire: Glenn Thrush
The storied political reporter and current White House Correspondent answers the Fatherly Questionnaire.
Today, Glenn Thrush is perhaps best known for being portrayed by Bobby Moynihan on Saturday Night Live. But the veteran reporter has been on the political beat since the days of New York Mayor Ed Koch. After covering the presidential campaign for Politico, Thrush joined The New York Times in January. Under the Trump administration and alongside his colleague Maggie Haberman, Thrush has been a leading critical, but always fact-checked, voice for freedom and accountability. We subjected him to the Fatherly Questionnaire.
What is your name?
White House correspondent for The New York Times.
How old are your child/children?
I have two 14-year-old boys.
What are their names?
Nathaniel and Charles.
Are they named after anyone in particular?
Nathaniel’s middle name is Grayson which is a family name on my wife’s side. But Charles is named after my deceased mother Carol, in the Jewish fashion after someone who died.
Do you have any cute nicknames for your child?
I call them Natty and Charlie.
What do they call you?
How often do you see them?
Every day, when I’m around.
Describe yourself as a father in three words.
Interested, distracted, bookish.
Describe your father in three words.
Aggressive, mechanical, querulous.
What are your strengths as a father?
I have never treated them like children intellectually. I’ve always shared what I was reading, what I was listening to musically, with whom I was talking. The membrane between my intellectual life and theirs has always been highly permeable. In terms of their emotional life, of course, I’ve had more boundaries. I don’t know if I’m great at it, but the combination of treating them as adults intellectually and creatively but understanding that they’re children from an emotional perspective is something I’ve certainly been conscious of.
My biggest regret is my habit of taking what my kids say literally and responding to that emotional way in the moment as opposed to processing it and trying to figure out why they are saying what they’re saying.
What are your weaknesses as a father? Relatedly, what is your biggest regret as a father?
I have a terrible temper. I can be imperious in terms of expressing my opinions, and I’m highly distractible in terms of my job. My biggest regret is my habit of taking what my kids say literally and responding to that emotional way in the moment as opposed to processing it and trying to figure out why they are saying what they’re saying. I tend to be sort of impulsive and then I have to go back and clean the mess.
What is your favorite activity to do with your children, that is, your special father-kid thing?
Talking. Actually, rather than talking I’d use the word arguing.
What has been the moment you were most proud as a parent? Why?
Their bar mitzvahs. I had no idea that they were working as hard as they did and they nailed the Torah portion and their speeches, their D’var Torahs were exceptional. It was a real moment when I had one of those great parental surprises where your kids far exceed what your expectations of them were.
What heirloom did your father give to you, if any?
Skepticism, and my anti-authoritarian impulse. My father was a guy who ran his own business, he repaired his own television, he thought his own thoughts, he was entirely independent and he was suspicious of anybody who imposed any authority on him. That has had an indelible stamp on me throughout my career and also just the way I deal with the world.
[My sons are] a blast, they’re wonderful companions. Mind you, they’re a massive pain in the ass. But I’d rather spend time with them than anybody else.
What heirloom do you want to leave for your children, if anything?
Nothing physical, I mean there’s really nothing physical. And Lord knows I’m gonna leave them nothing physical. A capacity to think independently. To take kind of this blizzard of inputs that we have and synthesize it into something that’s uniquely their own, and to give them enough sense of themselves as thinking machines that they never allow someone to tell them what to think.
Describe the “Dad Special” for dinner?
It’s not really dinner, but to double down on the Jewish theme, matzoh brei.
Are you religious and are you raising your children in that tradition?
It’s funny, I wouldn’t say we’re super religious but we are raising them in the tradition. There’s a lot of skepticism and we have debates about it but yes, having an understanding that Judaism is our tradition and having them grounded in that is important.
What is a mistake you made growing up that you want to ensure your child does not repeat?
Not to rebel for the sake of rebelling, and to be able to read situations with an eye towards what you are attempting to achieve. Don’t take cheap and easy satisfaction out of telling people you disagree with off.
How do you make sure you kid knows you love him or her?
The truth of the matter is I don’t think I have to. I mean I tell them all the time, but the way I tell them I love them is by actually wanting to be around them. If you met them you would understand why. They’re a blast, they’re wonderful companions. Mind you, they’re a massive pain in the ass. But I’d rather spend time with them than anybody else.
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