Feb 03, 2020

By ViacomCBS staff
Balancing coverage of Mike Bloomberg and weekly calls with his mom.

In the lead up to the 2020 Election, we’ll be publishing short interviews with the CBS News reporters who are covering the campaigns. This interview is the first in the series.

Tim Perry joined CBS News last April as an embed—a TV reporter who’s tasked with delivering an always-on stream of content and news as they join a candidate’s team on the campaign trail. He’s covering the Mike Bloomberg and Deval Patrick campaigns, and earlier in this election cycle he spent considerable time on the trail with former candidates Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Julián Castro, Steve Bullock, and Jay Inslee.

Before joining CBS News, he worked on several shows across the ViacomCBS portfolio. He started as a news associate CBS Evening News in 2015, then became an associate producer at Face the Nation and fulfilled stints at The Rundown With Robin Thede and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

What drew you back to campaign coverage?

I came back specifically to be an embed, which was a great opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I was at Face the Nation for the last election, so I was aware of what the job entailed. But I knew this election was going to be different in so many ways. By the time I got back here, we were seeing one of the largest fields of candidates we had ever seen on the Democratic side. The group was extremely diverse, and I knew, just by the sheer interest, that this would be one of the biggest stories of my life. What better way to be a part of it than being on the road with the candidates and having the opportunity to tell those important stories?

You were covering several Democratic candidates who ended their campaigns. What was your thought process when that news was revealed?

The initial feeling is shock, even when you know things are likely getting near the end because you never really know the exact moment they will announce. There is still an element of surprise and a bit of disbelief because you already invested so much time with them and their campaign. But when they are no longer in the race, you get a chance to reflect on the candidate and recall the more human moments you shared with them.

"I knew that this would be one of the biggest stories of my life. What better way to be a part of it than being on the road with the candidates and having the opportunity to tell those important stories?"

With so many embeds from different outlets, is it competitive on the trail?

You are literally living on the road with people from different networks, and you become friends. You try to maintain your own sense of self and keep true to the things that you are interested in, and you definitely want to work harder to get that exclusive or uncover that thing. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and we all try to help each other, as corny as that sounds.

Among the many campaigns you’ve covered, what similarities and differences have you observed?

The role money plays in the election continues to be an interesting thing to point out. A lot of people may look at the ad buys, but being with a campaign gets you close to seeing how many costs there are: how much it costs to get from wherever you live to Iowa every week; how much it costs to pay the people who travel with you; how much it costs to set up a stage, to hire a sound man, just all these small things that add up.

The first two big-name candidates I followed who dropped out [O’Rourke and Harris] both cited money as the primary reason. And now, I’m with a candidate [Bloomberg] who will tell you himself that he has unlimited resources to run his campaign. In a way, you get whiplash from going to the two extremes.

What’s one of the stories you covered that stands out for you?

I was with Beto O’Rourke on Skid Row in L.A. back in September. I was proud of it because I think one of the most underreported stories today is the homeless problem. I live in New York and I see it here, but seeing it in places like L.A., it really hits you.


Tim Perry CBS News

When you’re able to squeeze in downtime, what do you do? How do you maintain a life balance?

If I’m on a long flight and the internet isn’t working, it’s a good time for me to pop up my iPad and watch Netflix. There are a few documentaries on Netflix that I love right now. I am also watching Watchmen on HBO, which is great, and the last season of Game of Thrones.

I went to boarding school when I was younger, so I have this rule that I call my mom every Wednesday and Sunday, no matter the time. It gets harder when you’re on the road in a different time zone, but that’s something I can honestly say I keep up. I have missed maybe one or two Wednesdays. It also helps you remember what day of the week it is.

Keep up with Perry’s coverage on Twitter.

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