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Jonathan Decker

United States
The relationship between the US and the EU has so much to offer to the world and if we work together we have the means to change the world for the better

Jon Decker is the White House Correspondent and Senior National Editor for Gray Television and has been a member of the White House Press Corps since 1995. In 2015, he was elected by his colleagues to the Board of the White House Correspondents' Association. Jon serves on the faculty of Georgetown University and the UCLA School of Law where he is an Adjunct Professor. He also serves as a Media Fellow at the McCain Institute. Jon, a member of the Washington DC Bar, is the only lawyer in the White House Press Corps.

Previously, Jon served as the White House correspondent for Fox News Radio, Reuters Television and SiriusXM Radio; Washington correspondent for PBS Television’s “Nightly Business Report”; the host of PBS Television’s “This Week in Business”; business reporter for the NBC affiliate in Washington (WRC); and field producer for NBC in Miami. He has served as a Media Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and was also an aide to the late U.S. Senator John Heinz.  Jon, who was born in Washington, DC, received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees with Honors from the University of Pennsylvania and received a J.D. from the George Washington University Law School. He also studied international law at the Sorbonne in Paris.

Jon has covered the Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump and Biden Administrations, as well as 26 State of the Union Addresses, 7 Presidential elections and the Impeachments of both President Clinton and President Trump. He has been in the Supreme Court to cover some of the most important cases of the past two decades - including Bush v. Gore, NFIB v. Sebelius - which challenged the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, and Windsor v. United States - the landmark civil rights case concerning same-sex marriage.

In the past two decades, Jon has reported from Athens, Brussels, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Geneva, The Hague, Stockholm, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the West Bank, Luxembourg, Madrid, Rome, Milan, Montreal, Panama, Hong Kong, Beijing, Taipei, Singapore, Seoul, the DMZ, Melbourne, Buenos Aires, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Havana and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Columbia Journalism Review has called Jon "refreshingly self-aware-for-a-reporter."…

Jonathan Decker

Speaker's Corner

Can you describe and evaluate the experience of your EUVP visit?

Because my EUVP visit occurred after September 11, 2001 (9/11) and my view of the world had changed, it was important for me to hear about EU’s and Europe’s collective values. At the time of participating in the EU Visitors’ Programme in 2009 I was with Reuters Television.  My experience with the programme was outstanding. Having the opportunity to meet individuals who helped me gain a deeper understanding of the various institutions that comprise the European Union was an experience for which I will always be grateful.

What has the EUVP experience meant for your career?

The programme was incredibly beneficial and offered me a deeper and better understanding of the European perspective in terms of trade and foreign policy as well as the transatlantic relationship.  This new appreciation provided invaluable insight that has served me well in my capacity as a White House Correspondent. Building upon that foundation of knowledge and with frequent European travel over the course of the past two decades, I have cultivated a network of individuals that I can easily and frequently consult with on a variety of key issues. It is a privilege to know so many people across Europe – Eastern, Central and Western – who strive to improve the relationship between the US and the Europe.

Participating in the programme, I recognized immediately that it would provide an incredible opportunity to learn more about the EU and to gain a deeper understanding of the EU. Eventually, it was the beginning of a rewarding relationship with the EU itself and with other institutions in the European community, such as the American Chamber of Commerce in Europe (AmCham). Subsequently, I have been invited to be guest speaker at various European capitals: Brussels, Madrid, Paris, Stockholm and Amsterdam. Ahead of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election, I offered an in-depth analysis and previewed the race for many of the AmChams in Europe and recently spoke at these AmChams in Europe about the first 100 days of the Biden Administration, offering analysis and my outlook about what political initiatives and direction to expect. Naturally, due to Covid-19 pandemic-related restrictions, most of these events were virtual.

What are today’s challenges for you in your role as White House Correspondent?

My experience as a White House Correspondent goes back to President Bill Clinton’s first term. Since 1995, I have had the privilege to be covering the breaking news events out of the White House. It is challenging to cover the White House and involves a considerable amount of travel. Some of the more memorable trips for me include a 2016 trip with former President Barrack Obama for his historic visit to Cuba to meet with Cuban President Raoul Castro, the first US President in 90 years to visit Cuba. Another historic trip that I covered and that really stands out is former President Donald Trump’s visit to North Korea for his meeting with Kim Jong Un on the stalled nuclear proliferation talks in 2019.

During my career, I have observed and reported on the strength of the EU-US relationship. We share the same goals and values and we view our adversaries in the same manner. President Biden has focused on transatlantic relations and his attendance at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay in June, that I also covered, helped underscore the fact that he wants to focus on strengthening the EU- US relationship. And now he is preparing to head to the G20 Summit in Rome, Italy and the UN Global Conference on Climate Change in Glasgow, Scotland further demonstrating his Administration’s commitment to our European partners. I will be traveling with President Biden to Rome for the G20 Summit and reporting on his visit for Gray Television’s 113 stations.

What do you feel has been the greatest achievement in your career?

Singling out one achievement, given that I have covered so much over the last two decades, is difficult. But if I had to point to a couple of consequential news events, certainly covering the White House on the day of the 9/11 attacks is something I will never forget. Then there were the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the creation of the new Department of Homeland Security, and all of the changes that occurred in the wake of 9/11. Then of course the work and efforts that we in the US have aspired to bring to the global community in terms of peace and democracy.

I am truly gratified for my career trajectory and all of the incredible opportunities I have been afforded while working for such consequential and globally recognized news organizations like Reuters, Fox News, and now Gray Television. Gray TV is the second largest television broadcaster in the US and it is an honor and privilege to work for such a high-respected, innovative, and ethical news organization focused on fair, unbiased reporting at all of our 113 stations.

In terms of a personal achievement that I am proud of, I would point to the fact that I was admitted to and completed 4- years of law school in the midst of my career and I am the only lawyer in the White House Press Corps. It was a very challenging period of time with such a busy work schedule and attending class 4-5 nights a week. But it was all worthwhile and I am honored to be a member of the DC Bar.

What would you say to young leaders trying to change and shape communities for the better?

I have the opportunity to address young people on a frequent basis given that I am on the Faculty of Georgetown University and on the Faculty of the UCLA School of Law. I never miss the opportunity to convey to all the young people that I come across that they should pursue their passion in life, whether it is off the beaten track or whether it is in the field of a more traditional profession such as lawyer, doctor or journalist. One should choose a profession that is rewarding and that brings happiness in life. When you find that and give 100% to that effort, you will be successful.

Additionally, I encourage my students and young people to pay attention to global affairs. We cannot just focus on our own country or region’s well-being. We need to be aware of the impact we can have on the world collectively. We should all keep that in mind.

The relationship between the US and the EU has so much to offer to the world and if we work together we have the means to change the world for the better - that is whether we talk about strategic issues, trade or climate change. There are so many ways in which we can tackle the challenges our world is facing and I have no doubt that the EU-US partnership will continue to grow and evolve and help make our world a better place.

The interview took place on July 2nd 2021

The opinions expressed by the EUVP distinguished Alumni on the Wall of Fame do not necessarily reflect the official EU position.