Teddy Fischer, a student at Mercer Island High School in Washington state about to enter his junior year, snagged an exclusive 45-minute phone interview during the Memorial Day weekend with Defense Secretary James Mattis.
Having discovered a photo published by the Washington Post where the cabinet official’s phone number was visible, Fischer sent Mattis a text message.
“I never really thought it would work,” Fischer told Seattle’s KING5. After sending a message to the number he found stating he was a student working for his school newspaper and a native of Washington state, the defense secretary called back and agreed to a phone interview. Secretary Mattis is also from Washington state.
After preparing with his teacher and editor on questions, Fischer conducted an insightful, thorough discussion with Mattis, covering topics such as national politics, foreign policy, and issues facing teenagers today. Fischer also said he learned an important lesson beyond public affairs.
“It never hurts to ask anybody anything,” he said. “Even if they seem like they’re a distant figure, even if they seem like a powerful figure. There’s a human side to politics and people are much more approachable than you think.”