Writings

As a journalist, I’ve covered the full spectrum of life in Washington, both high and low, writing about national security on one end and on the other, breaking the story that Beyoncé lip-synced the national anthem at Barack Obama’s 2013 inauguration.

Recently, I’ve written about the real-life truth behind ABC’s new TV drama, “Designated Survivor,” as well as an article for the Washington Post about how the government is struggling to find enough lawyers who understand cyber cases. My oral history of being aboard Air Force One on September 11th, 2001, entitled “We’re the Only Plane in the Sky” and written for the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, was one of the most popular stories POLITICO has ever published. You can read a Q&A with me about that story by the Columbia Journalism Review. I also dove into and read the 250 pages of FBI files about Hillary Clinton’s email servers and produced the first comprehensive narrative of how her email server scandal unfolded, a story that was adapted into a This American Life episode the weekend before the 2016 election.

Earlier in the election, I journeyed to the Texas-Mexico border to write about Donald Trump, border security, and “The Wall,” a fascinating story where I went out with the Border Patrol and in 30 minutes, watched them stop 37 people crossing the border. That story was a follow-up, of sorts, to my 2014 POLITICO Magazine article, “The Green Monster: How the Border Patrol became America’s most out-of-control law enforcement agency,” which created waves at the Department of Homeland Security and on Capitol Hill.

After FBI Director James Comey’s press conference on Hillary Clinton’s emails, I dove into why he gave such a remarkable press conference—and how he was prepared to face down Congress. In the wake of the horrific Orlando shootings, I wrote about the surveillance challenges the FBI faces investigating would-be radicals in the United States. You can also read my POLITICO article about drones at the White House, an extensive profile of FBI Director James Comey, and an examination of the threat of terrorism from the Canadian border, as well as my editor’s letters introducing the magazine’s Justice Issue, Media Issue, and War Issue.

I’ve written extensively over the years on technology and politics, including for Wired magazine. In the July 2016 print issue, I examined how the polling industry is facing huge problems in the 2016 election and a Chicago data startup—founded by Obama’s campaign analytics guru—that think it’s built the better polling mousetrap. Going back further, here is one piece I did about datamining and microtargeting in politics in 2008 and a piece I did on Tom Friedman’s Hot, Flat, and Crowded. My magnum opus on Barack Obama’s 2008 internet campaign (PDF) was published in Infonomics Magazine.

I write a fair bit about history and national security, like this story about the grim task that awaits new British Prime Ministers—hand-writing a “Letter of Last Resort” for nuclear armageddon. Among the op-eds I’ve written, I’ve argued against moving the FBI headquarters outside of Washington, explained FBI Director James Comey’s history as a principled crime fighter, and complained about politicians’ stunning lack of knowledge about the internet in the Washington Post, Don’t Know Their Yahoo From Their YouTube, and in The New York Times, Text the Vote. As part of a Harvard Kennedy School executive session, I authored a white paper arguing for better citizen engagement by the judiciary, Courts are Conversations.

Want some multimedia? Listen hear to a Newseum discussion about the FBI and catch some of my C-SPAN appearances here.

At The Washingtonian, I wrote about a wide variety of subjects, from my 2009 roundup of Washington’s Tech Titans to my two-part 2008 profile of the FBI director, The Ultimate G-Man: Robert Mueller Remakes the FBI, to my 2006 forward-looking profile of the junior U.S. Senator from Illinois, The Legend of Barack Obama. I wrote about datamining and microtargeting in They Have Your Number and have twice done the magazine’s quadrennial list of Washington’s 50 Top Journalists.  From 2005 until 2010, I also edited the front-of-the-book Capital Comment section, doing little interviews with counterinsurgency expert David Kilcullen, restaurant legend Mel Krupin, internet co-founder and Google guru Vint Cerf, and Slate’s Dear Prudence, and covering gossipy topics like possible Cabinet picksgalas, and even Michelle Obama’s fashion.

In 2005, I founded the blog FishbowlDC, where I blogged regularly for a year-and-a-half. I’ve written regularly for Harvard Magazine over the years, where in college I was an undergraduate Ledecky fellow. Here’s an article, “To The Rescue,” I wrote for Harvard Business School‘s alumni magazine about a nascent 911 dispatch program in India. In 2004, at the conclusion of the Dean campaign, I wrote a commentary for VPR about grassroots politics.

Going even further back, here’s the full collection of my articles from The Harvard Crimson in college. A few of my favorites: The obituary of a former Harvard police chief; my treatise on campus security after 9/11; a look at Larry Summers’ first day as Harvard’s president after we first broke word of his selection months before; an examination of the famed Harvard Management Corporation, which runs the University endowment; my narrative of the presidential search itself; my afternoon shooting with HUPD and the day-in-the-life that I spent with them; my on-the-street piece from Nashville during Al Gore’s 2000 election; a look at the Class of 1950; a look at the phenomenon of Natalie Portman at Harvard; a silly look at the guy who puts the slogans on those candy Valentine’s Day hearts; and, the first major story that I followed for the Crimson during the fall of my freshman year, the so-called “Yard Burglar.”



Contact Me

I'm very easy to reach and love to discuss story tips and speaking invitations. Email me: garrett DOT graff AT gmail DOT com.

Call me: (802) 448-0564

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