An eagle-eyed teen reporter bagged himself a 45 minute interview with Donald Trump’s defence secretary James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis - after spotting a snap of his phone number online.
While reading a Washington Post article, high school journalist Teddy Fischer noticed that Trump’s bodyguard was holding a post-it note with Mattis’ mobile number scrawled across it in one of the photos.
Trying his luck, Fischer decided to give the number a call. When Mattis didn’t pick up, the Mercer Island High School pupil sent a text asking for an interview.
“It was a lark for him originally,” Fischer’s journalism teacher Chris Twombley told HuffPost.
“I don’t think he thought it would go anywhere. But the general called him back on his personal line and left a message for Teddy.”
Agreeing to a 15 minute interview that went on for another 30 minutes, Mattis gave the teen advice on everything from history to foreign policy - and told Fischer he believes the wars of the future will be fought in outer space and on the internet.
“The whole thing is just a miracle after a miracle,” Fischer told King 5.
The defence secretary told the teen: “No matter what you’re going to go into, whether it be business or politics or international relations or domestic politics, I don’t think you can go wrong if you maintain an avid interest in history.
“The reason I say that is you’ll find that really, there’s nothing new under the sun, other than some of the technology we use. I wish now, looking back on it, if I’d known what waited for me in life, I would have put a lot more attention into history.”
Mattis also told the teenager that the United State shouldn’t move toward isolationism. He echoed Trump’s desire to see NATO members increase contributions to collective defence.
“Being part of a country or an alliance like that is a little bit like going to a bank,” Mattis said. “If you want to take something out, you have to put something in, and I think it’s actually essential.”
Mattis said he called Fischer back because he tries to maintain his connection with students.
“I think we owe it to you young folks to pass on what we learned going down the road so that you can make your own mistakes, not the same ones we made,” he told Fischer.
Fischer’s nerve shows what young journalists should aim for, Twombley added.
“The position of the media is always to ask tough questions. A lot of kids his age wouldn’t have done that.”
The Washington Post has now removed the photo showing Mattis’ number from their site.