AU alumna Tara Palmeri has a front row seat to Trump's White House
Politico correspondent discusses her career path and why Sean Spicer sees her as a "threat"
Constantly checking her Apple Watch and two cell phones is just an average day for busy Politico White House correspondent and AU alumna Tara Palmeri.
Palmeri, who graduated from the University a year early in 2008, has covered news around the globe, from New York City’s gossip at The New York Post to Brexit at Politico’s European edition, which she helped found.
For the 29-year-old reporter, her interest in journalism began in Lincoln Park, New Jersey, where she described growing up in the “shadow” of New York City.
“I was always sort of a very inquisitive kid,” Palmeri said. “I always used to kind of spy on people and I would pretend that I was a war correspondent when I was a kid or I would interview people on the couch like I was Oprah [Winfrey].”
At the suggestion of her high school guidance counselor, she decided she would go to college for journalism, picking AU’s “strong” communication program.
“AU was a place where I got to meet a lot of people who were still movers and shakers in the industry,” Palmeri said.
She said that the University helped set her up for “a real job,” crediting SOC professor Gemma Puglisi and AU alumni for helping her earn a spot in the journalism industry after she left AU. Palmeri said that she often finds herself running into AU alumni in the journalism field.
“The more I’m out and about in this business, the more I meet American alumni,” Palmeri said.
After graduating from AU, Palmeri began working as a news assistant at CNN. She said that sometimes she would end up working 90 hours a week doing “not really so much journalism, but more learning how to be an assistant to the overall process.”
“Working late nights, having to get into the office at five in the morning for morning shows so you could turn the teleprompter, print out scripts, get people coffee, just very basic jobs,” Palmeri said.
At CNN, Palmeri produced stories in her free time, some of which made it to primetime. It was networking with guests and people in the greenroom that helped her land her next job, she said.
She began to work at the Washington Examiner where she had her own gossip column, eventually graduating to the New York Post’s Page Six gossip column where she first covered Donald Trump.
She then moved from the gossip section to the news section, where she covered breaking news around the country like the John Edwards trial and the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
Her last beat in New York City was covering Mayor Bill de Blasio, during which she received an opportunity that would change the course of her carrier. She sent in her resume to Politico and was given an opportunity to travel to Brussels, Belgium to help start Politico Europe.
As a columnist and reporter at Politico Europe, Palmeri said she covered Brexit and was key to the success of the new operation. Palmeri, along with the rest of the Europe bureau, sought to cover Brussels with the “Politico touch,” writing about Europe’s political characters and their connected story arcs.
Now, as one of Politico’s White House correspondents, Palmeri is constantly connected with the news and her sources, and frequently checked her phone during her interview with The Eagle.
“The stories are changing every day. It’s not Russia, it’s personnel, it’s health care, it’s tax reform,” Palmeri said. “There’s so many different angles to this White House.”
Recently, her relationship with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer gained national attention after he called Palmeri “an idiot with no real sources” in an email to Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle.
Palmeri, who has known Spicer since her time with the Washington Examiner, said Spicer didn’t like her “off the bat.”
“Maybe he thinks because I’m one of the newer members of the team that he can pick me off,” Palmeri said. “Sean is trying to divide and conquer the team and he sees me obviously as a threat.”
Palmeri started her D.C. coverage of Trump when he was the president-elect in December 2016. Today, she is always trying to find the latest White House scoop.
“You kind of have to also go with your instincts on who’s up and who’s down and what that might mean for the next few days,” Palmeri said. “It’s not just instinct, it’s talking to as many people as you can, inside the White House, outside the White House.”
Reflecting on her time at CNN, Palmeri cited her ambition and networking skills as qualities that helped her move forward in her career.
“I was just really ambitious and I tried to meet as many people in the green room as possible, the guests that were on TV, one of them ended up being my future editor,” Palmeri said. “I was always networking.”