A first row seat to history

November 16, 2018

WESTVILLE — Purdue University Northwest’s Sinai Forum on Sunday hosted journalist Robert Costa.

Costa has worked for many news organizations and is currently a national political reporter for The Washington Post and political analyst for NBC news and MSNBC. He was invited to speak on the recent midterm elections that took place on Nov. 6.

Costa has garnered notoriety by breaking high profile scoops on President Donald Trump, earning him the nickname the “Trump Whisperer.” He is also known for his work covering the 2013 United States federal government shutdown, which led to him being called “the golden boy of the government shutdown.”

Costa’s success can be attributed to his willingness to report on stories that other reporters would disregard. He gave numerous examples of developing relationships with high-profile politicians years before they were in office, taking a special interest in them before the height of their careers.

“I covered the fringe of the fringe of the fringe, and they are now running the government,” Costa said.

Some of these notables included acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker; co-chair of the Donald Trump campaign and key witness in the Mueller investigation, Sam Clovis; former governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin; and former White House Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon. Costa created connections with these people when other journalists assumed nothing would come of their stories.

“To understand the midterm elections in 2018 and to understand where we go in 2019, you have to understand, at some level, how we got here,” Costa told the audience. “I have had a first row seat to history over the last 10 years, in a way that is almost surreal to me.”

Although Costa is known for his rapport with President Trump, he prides himself on reporting for all parties, and often reminds people about his early reporting on Bernie Sanders.

“The thing about being a reporter right now is, it’s a challenging time because institutionally, we are being challenged all the time. One of my missions as a reporter is to resist being politicized,” Costa said. “People crave real reporting that doesn’t tell them right or left, just tells them what is happening in this country. People care more when they know that there is no spin coming at them.”

Costa gave his observations on how the midterms played out. He explained how, although the Democratic Party has gained the House majority, the Democrats did not do as well in the midterms as many had predicted.

While briefing the audience on his thoughts about the election results, he touched on how results varied by population density.

“The Democrats have to come back in the midwest. The Democratic Party is doing well in urban and suburban areas, but Republicans are as strong as ever in rural and ex-urban areas,” he said. “That’s the real national divide. This country is so divided in those rural/urban dynamics.”

He closed out his remarks giving one promise, “It’s an honor to be here at the Sinai Forum and it’s an honor to be a reporter in this country. I’ll just keep reporting and I promise you, I will keep assuming nothing.”

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