'CBS This Morning' Host John Dickerson Is Writing a Book About the Presidency (Q&A)

John Dickerson - Publicity - H 2018
John Paul Filo/CBS

Writing about the institution has informed his coverage of Donald Trump's presidency, he said.

John Dickerson has until 2020 to deliver a new book about the institution of the presidency, which he argued in a recent cover story for The Atlantic ("The Hardest Job In The World") has gotten too big for any one person to get a handle on. The book will be published by Random House and will be Dickerson's third.

The veteran political journalist, who joined the cast of CBS This Morning in January, told The Hollywood Reporter that studying the history of the presidency has been "helpful" in providing context for the Trump presidency. 

Between working on the book, co-hosting a morning news show for two hours every weekday and hosting two podcasts for Slate, good time management is mandatory for Dickerson, who spent two and a half years anchoring Face the Nation on Sunday mornings before taking the morning show chair vacated by Charlie Rose. "I now get up at 4:00 every day, which is actually super helpful, because in my old job you weren't sure when to get up," he said in an interview in his office.

The whirlwind pace of the Trump administration, however, poses unique challenges to any author working on a book that touches on current events. "As you can imagine with a book, you close it here, and in this fast-moving news environment, you can have 60,000 different things happen between the two," he said.

Dickerson is one of the few broadcast journalists to have interviewed Trump in the White House. He said he's had positive interactions with him since the president walked out on his April 2017 interview after objecting to Dickerson's line of questioning.

He plans to ask members of the Trump administration to sit for interviews for the book, which is meant as a historical study and analysis rather than a partisan jab or an attempt to decode the current occupant of the White House. "I hope they will talk in the spirit in which the conversation will take place, which is: this is about the presidency," he said.

DIckerson discussed Trump's tendency to quickly take credit for what he deems policy "wins," such as his historic — but controversial — summit last week with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. "He takes credit for things before they've come to fruition," Dickerson said. "And he takes credit for things over which he may or may not have had any effect." 

In an increasingly polarized media ecosystem, Dickerson said "it's really a joy" and a "delight" to be able to focus on the news and play it down the middle. Here, he mentioned his mother, the late television journalist Nancy Dickerson. "I grew up with this talk about what the role of the press was supposed to be," he said. "And the day-to-day prosecution of our jobs here is pretty much very close to exactly what I grew up hearing about, which is: What's the news? What does it mean? How do we tell that? And, who do we get to say it?"

Dickerson said that CBS This Morning viewers come up to him and thank him for delivering on the show's premise. "They know what to expect, and then they end up getting what they expect," he said.