Mercer Island student newspaper lands interview with U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis

A rare interview with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis came from an unlikely source: the Mercer Island High School student newspaper.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis generally avoids the press. He’s absent from news shows and only answers one or two questions during news conferences. Even the largest news outlets would covet a candid interview with the retired Marine Corps general whose nickname is “Mad Dog. ”

So a 5,900-word interview with Mattis about ISIS, warfare and radicalization made quite an impact as the story went viral Monday — especially since the interviewer is a student at Mercer Island High School.

Teddy Fischer, who will be a junior at the Seattle-area school next fall, was reading a Washington Post article in May about President Trump’s bodyguard that included a photo of him walking with a stack of papers with a yellow sticky note that, examined closely, listed Mattis’ phone number.

The Islander’s Jim Mattis interview

To read the full interview, go to

The Post eventually took the photo down, but Fischer had already saved the number. He left a message with Mattis shortly afterward, asking for an interview for his school newspaper, The Islander.

Education Lab is a Seattle Times project that spotlights promising approaches to persistent challenges in public education. It is produced in partnership with the Solutions Journalism Network and is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

· Find out more about Education Lab  

It’s hard for a reporter to get a direct private number of a senior official. It’s even harder to get that person to call back, especially if you’re a student from across the country.

But Mattis told Fischer that his message was compelling, in part because Fischer is a student, and in part because Mattis grew up in Washington state along the Columbia River, and graduated from Central Washington…

Read the full article from the Source…

Back to Top