Meet the 17-year-old politics reporter who broke the news that Bill de Blasio is running for president
- Gabe Fleisher, a 17-year-old from St. Louis, Missouri, was the first to break the news that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was running for president.
- The news wasn't supposed to get out, but Fleisher got the big scoop while doing some research for his daily politics newsletter.
- Fleisher discovered a notice from an Iowa Democratic group announcing the "first stop" on de Blasio's "presidential announcement tour."
- The high school junior knew this was a big deal because de Blasio hadn't officially announced yet, so he posted the notice to Twitter and it blew up.
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Gabe Fleisher, a 17-year-old from St. Louis, Missouri, was doing some research on a site he regularly frequents for his daily politics newsletter on Wednesday when something jumped out and grabbed him.
It was a notice from a Democratic group in Sioux City, Iowa. Fleisher went to the group's Facebook page, and discovered an announcement for the "first stop" on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's "presidential announcement tour."
"That seemed pretty notable to me," Fleisher told INSIDER on Thursday evening, given de Blasio hadn't officially announced yet.
Fleisher put an image of the notice on Twitter, and it exploded. The high school junior had just broken the news that the mayor of the largest city in the US was hopping into the 2020 race.
"I hadn't seen anyone else tweet about it, and so I knew that I was on it early at the very least," Fleisher said when asked if he'd realized what a big scoop it was. "It did obviously seem like some wires had been crossed and it was ahead of his announcement."
But he did not expect the tweet to blow up to the extent that it did ahead of de Blasio's campaign video release and public announcement on "Good Morning America" on Thursday.
"It's been pretty wild," Fleisher said. "I've been at school all day. In my pocket my phone has been going off all day with alerts and stuff from Twitter and a lot of different people."
He reached out to de Blasio after he saw the Facebook post and got confirmation that the New York City mayor would be traveling to Iowa and would be on "Good Morning America." But de Blasio's people would not confirm that he was running.
"There was a little a bit of back and forth over email trying to get them to confirm, which they didn't," Fleisher said.
Fleisher has the instincts of a seasoned reporter, and in many ways he is. The St. Louis politics junkee has been running his "Wake up to Politics" newsletter since he was just 9-years-old.
"I first really got interested in politics during the 2008 elections," Fleisher said.
Something about the "whole process" really "fascinated" Fleisher, so he started asking his parents questions about the election, and began digesting as much information as he could on politics and history. Fleisher's passion for writing, combined with his interest in US politics, morphed into a newsletter that now has over 5o,000 subscribers.
The newsletter gained 1,000 or so followers after his big scoop, Fleisher said. He's also received numerous media requests.
"It's more than I've been able to do, because I was at school all day," Fleisher said, sounding both overwhelmed and amused.
When Fleisher first got the newsletter started, his mom was his biggest fan and he initially only sent it to her. She eventually began sending it out to friends, and it slowly but surely gained traction.
Fleisher said that before The Times' story his newsletter had about 2,000 followers. His following soon jumped all the way up to 40,000 subscribers. "I was thrilled with 2,000 subscribers at the time, but that's when it really exploded," Fleisher said.
To balance out time for homework and other standard aspects of being an American teenager, Fleisher typically does an outline for his newsletter each night before he goes to bed. He then wakes up at 5:55 am every single day to finalize the newsletter before sending it out at 7:30.
"It's all about compartmentalizing and putting focus where it should be at a particular time," Fleisher said. "I'm very passionate about doing it right."
Fleisher said he works really hard to maintain a non-partisan stance in the newsletter and avoids injecting his political views.
When asked if he's been particularly impressed by any candidate in the massive field of 2020 Democrats, Fleisher said, "It's been a fascinating field to cover, for sure. It's a lot of fun for me that there's so many candidates ... It's a bit of a challenge sometimes to cover such a large field, but it's also a lot of fun."
He said there's "no question" that it's going to be a "very interesting election."
Fleisher said a lot of his friends are also interested in politics, not quite to the extent that he is, but still engaged - and some subscribe to his newsletter.
He plans to study journalism in college and said he's started to look at schools.
"I like politics and I'm really passionate about journalism. I love being able to inform people, and I find it to be a real honor that people are reading what I write," Fleisher said. "I definitely see myself continuing in political journalism."
New York City Mayor @BilldeBlasio to headline an event in Sioux City, Iowa, on Friday, which the local Democratic Party is calling the "first stop on his Presidential announcement tour": https://t.co/WEiKNXXmfg pic.twitter.com/BNSabvbPav- Gabe Fleisher (@WakeUp2Politics) May 15, 2019