DEADLINE: First off, just from a logistical standpoint, you are mostly working from home, how is that working out?
MARY HAGER: I think right now it is a challenge because there’s so much information, and so much of it is being done on email. We’ve also got Slack channels up and running. We’ve done Zoom conferencing. We’ve done larger network editorial calls, smaller network editorial calls, so it’s challenging. We’ll only be seeing each other probably Sunday for a brief amount of time.
DEADLINE: How did it work last Sunday?
HAGER: It was difficult last Sunday. Our broadcast center in New York shut down because we had a couple of reported cases and they wanted to make sure that the building was cleaned, and also to make sure that anyone who had come into contact with the people who tested positive knew about it. So a lot of the resources, a lot of the responsibility fell to the Washington bureau.
DEADLINE: Margaret, has it made the preparation process, the reporting process more difficult?
MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s been the preparation. It’s awkward. You can’t all sit in the same room and have conversations. … I’m sure everyone in every industry is going through the exact same thing related to that. And there is something different when you’re not face to face with someone.
The reporting, in terms of making calls, in terms of reading in terms of researching, we’re doing the same thing as we always do. … If anything, people right now need some curation. They need some separation of facts and clarity and editorial in a way that is different than ‘day in, day out.’ I think people are probably really overwhelmed. We’re overwhelmed by the amount of information coming in. And that’s what we’re trying to do before we get to Sunday, to lay out clearly for viewers here’s the top things you need to know on the health front to protect you and your family. Here’s what’s coming next week as best as we can ascertain from the guests that we have lined for you who have insights into the policymakers.
[Dr. Anthony] Fauci sat with us last Sunday and said he wouldn’t feel comfortable going into restaurants, personally, and two days later, the government [guidelines]. So I feel that we are thinking of our level of responsibility, in a way of trying to ask the things that viewers need to know to keep themselves safe. And also need to know to protect and plan ahead, particularly on the economic front because there is so much uncertainty out there right now. As we are in this recession, as so many banks have already come out and said, ‘We’re in the middle of a real downturn here.’ So we have those two things that we’re trying to flesh out last Sunday and certainly this Sunday as well — what changed dramatically in the course of seven days.
DEADLINE: In January you asked Tom Cotton about China and their response to the coronavirus.
BRENNAN: I knew as someone who covered the global market for a decade in the middle of a financial crisis, and someone who’s covered national security and foreign affairs, as I continue to do that the kind of outbreak that was happening in China was going to have global complications. …. Tom Cotton had been out there talking about the need. Obviously he had been briefed at that point, as a member of intelligence committee, on what was happening and he was raising red flags back then. There were people on Capitol Hill who were perhaps more kind of hawks who are raising concerns. There were health officials. It just wasn’t necessarily breaking through. And for me, I saw the connection that China is the second largest economy in the world. It is incredibly interconnected to everything that we do. And any kind of economic slowdown there was going to have an impact here. But I don’t think any of us projected the level of dramatic change that we would see on American shores as a result of this coming here in that way.