Bethesda Interview: Kate Bennett

Bethesda Interview: Kate Bennett

The CNN White House reporter talks about fashion in D.C. politics, and more

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Photo by Michael Ventura.

 

Name: Kate Bennett

Age: 44

What she does: White House reporter for CNN

Lives In: Cabin John

 

As a journalist for nearly 20 years, Kate Bennett has chatted up Elton John at his piano in Las Vegas, ridden in a motorcade with Michelle Obama, and helped wrangle a bulldog in a diamond necklace during a magazine fashion shoot. But interviewing first lady Melania Trump during an official White House visit to Asia last November might have been her most memorable experience yet.

“She hadn’t done a solo on-camera interview with anyone until then,” Bennett says. “I hustled for that opportunity, flying all the way to China for just 60 hours. There I was standing on the Great Wall of China talking to her—it was surreal. We were both kind of out of breath from climbing the wall, and I think it broke the ice a bit. She’s very real, and is much more present in person than in the images the public sees.”

Bennett’s storytelling chops might be genetic. Her mother, Mary Glassman, and her father, James K. Glassman, were part owners of Roll Call from 1987 to 1993. James was also an editor at Washingtonian magazine and spent time at PBS before shifting gears to work for President George W. Bush as under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs.

Bennett, 44, grew up in the Somerset neighborhood of Chevy Chase. She attended high school at the tony Miss Porter’s School in Connecticut and later graduated from St. John’s College in Annapolis. Her first job out of college brought her back to the D.C. area as a producer for Hardball with Chris Matthews in 1997. “I started a week before the Monica Lewinsky story broke,” she recalls. “It was during the rise of political punditry, and a crazy time. Just about every major player in the scandal came through while I was there—from Bill Clinton accuser Kathleen Willey to a young pollster with a lot of grit, Kellyanne Conway.”

In 1999, a job editing a gossip column for the Las Vegas Sun took Bennett out west, where she surprised herself by staying for nearly a decade, eventually becoming the editor of Vegas magazine and coming to appreciate Sin City. “I went out there at 24 and thought, ‘ew,’ but then I found it fascinating,” she says.

When the editor-in-chief job at Capitol File magazine came up in 2010, she moved home with her 5-year-old daughter in tow. “I’d always wanted to come back, and it was time,” Bennett says. “I wanted to bring my daughter back to the place I grew up, with its museums, diversity and family ties. And I was tired of living amid so much stucco.”

A few years later, Washingtonian nabbed Bennett to be the magazine’s fashion and bridal editor. Stints as a gossip columnist at Politico and Independent Journal Review (IJR) followed before CNN poached Bennett from IJR just before Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Bethesda Magazine interviewed Bennett at her newly renovated Cabin John bungalow. She designed the sleek kitchen herself, and often hangs out there cooking French food for her daughter and kicking back with her rescue dog, Coco.

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