FishbowlDC Q&A With Fox News Trump Campaign Correspondent John Roberts

Roberts reflects on his time on the Trump trail.

Fox News senior national correspondent John Roberts tracks his time on the campaign trail by the cities and towns he has passed through while covering this election. Name the place, and the month, week follows. Sometimes he figures it out by going backwards through his flight itineraries. “But you know what, if you were to ask me right now where I was yesterday, I would have a hard time telling you where that was,” he told FishbowlDC when we spoke to him last week. But then he remembers: Valley Forge.

With the frenetic, sleep-deprived (he averages about four hours a night) schedule of a correspondent on the trail of Donald Trump, Roberts must live in a perpetual present, covering the now of so many stops, events and twists.

If this is a presidential campaign that has been marked by so many new journalistic faces on the scene, Roberts is the vet. He’s been doing it since 1996, when he was at CBS News, “flipping back and forth on that campaign” as he covered both Bill Clinton and Bob Dole. What that experience tells him, aside from the fact that he’s “never seen anything like this election,” is that, while subsequent elections may recover and scale back on the crazy, they probably won’t follow suit on length. “Just get used to, in the future, particularly with the explosion of social media, the ultimate perpetual campaign,” he said.

FishbowlDC spoke with Roberts about his time on the trail.

FishbowlDC: How are you holding up?

John Roberts: I’m a little tired, trying to sleep when I can, and it’s very funny–something on the campaign trail that seems to be a constant is the quality of the hotel rooms that we get is inversely proportional to the amount of time that we spend in them. We had a great hotel last night in Miami, and we spent four hours in it.

FBDC: Following the election’s close, what’s the first thing that you plan to do?

Roberts: My wife [CNN correspondent Kyra Phillips] is on the board of the Fisher House Foundation, which is a military charity, and they have a big fundraising golf tournament on the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, S.C. on November the 11th—Veteran’s Day—and she and I plan to be playing that tournament, that is, after I finally get home and kiss my wife and kids, because it will have been a month since I’ve seen my five-year-old twins. Six weeks since I’ve seen my wife.

FBDC: How has your coverage approach changed from the beginning of the campaign to now?

Roberts: I think that the one thing that I’ve had to do on many, many, occasions is suspend disbelief. I thought after covering every political campaign since 1996 is that I had seen it all. Every day we see something that we couldn’t even in our wildest dreams predicted would happen. We joke amongst ourselves that if you thought you’ve seen the craziest thing that could ever happen in politics, just wait because something crazier will come along. It really has been extraordinary from that standpoint.

FBDC: Looking at your time on the trail, what have been some of your most memorable moments?

Roberts: For me I think the thing that really stands out was the day that I flew with Trump on his plane from St. Louis to Chicago. We were doing an interview with him on the plane as part of a documentary that’s aired a number of times on Fox. And it was being on a plane with him, seeing him in a more relaxed setting, and then getting to Chicago and seeing the chaos that ensued when all those protestors, some of them, I think, paid to be there, others I think were students at the college and disrupted the event. It was the very first time that a Trump rally had been disrupted to that point. It was a defining moment for how absolutely different this campaign was from anything that I have every covered before. We had initially thought that that was just some sort of organic event. Maybe a part of it was, but it also seems at least a good portion of that was organized as well.