Astead Herndon


Astead Wesley Herndon is a national political reporter for The New York Times. He was previously a Washington-based political reporter and a City Hall reporter for The Boston Globe.


  • My father always stressed the importance of hard work and not skipping steps in your development. He used to say, “No one goes to bed a blunder and wakes up a wonder.”
    • Asked "What’s the best advice you ever received?" in interview (2022)
  • Perry making the impt point: hand wringing abt the alleged ineffectiveness of slogans like defund the police come from electeds or pundits who only see change thru electoral politics. That is not the goal of many activists. They are not setting out to help Dems win elections
    • On Twitter Dec 1, 2020, responding to Perry Bacon Jr. writing "Electoral politics matter. They do. But they can't be allowed to swallow every conversation.A lot of the police reforms haven't really worked. So more drastic ideas deserve a hearing. And people pushing more drastic ideas aren't all involved in the horse race--nor should they be."
  • One of the key questions to ask folks right now is 'Where are you getting your information? Where are you getting your kind of news from?' And when you hear where folks are getting it," Astead Wesley says, you understand "why they feel the way they do.
    • Quoted on Twitter from TV interview Dec 13, 2020
  • There's a uniqueness to the US Capitol obviously but I cannot overstress that much of what you see yesterday -- threat of violence, conspiracy, Q, open white nationalism -- is present at quite literally every Trump rally.
    • Jan 7, 2021 on Twitter, responding to Mick Mulvaney saying "We didn't sign up for what you saw last night"
  • folks say journalists focus on Trump the individual bc there's drama + Biden is "boring." Sure. But its also medias uncomfort in dealing w/ broader Trumpism. I.e. its easier to ask abt the man than the societal forces that define his rise and persist today
    • On Twitter Dec 17, 2020
  • If your greatest problem right now is boredom, that is a privilege. And while this describes what is the relative adaptability that some of us experience it fails to acknowledge that it is the outlier -- a lot of folks will not be fine at all…like most things in reporting, asking "who is the we here?" gives away the game
    • On Twitter Mar 24, 2020, responding to Crooked Media article "We Are Doing Fine"
  • stop falling for the spin of "we would've done real police reform if it wasn't for pesky activists yelling defund" from electeds who haven't shown any interest in doing things about police reform
    • On Twitter Nov 15, 2020
  • This is a clicky way of saying the majority of white ppl are Republicans, vote for the Republican candidate, and have done so since the 1960s
    • 8/6/2020 on Twitter, reacting to Newsweek headline "50% of white Americans would vote for Trump if election were held today"
  • responses to this are absolutely hilarious. ppl acting like backing trump is some niche or isolated thing and not quite literally the majority opinion among white ppl
    • 9/22/2020 on Twitter, responding to Josh Gad writing "Honest question. Who looks at 2020 and says, 'I want to vote for four more years of whatever this is'"
  • the officer was not involved in a shooting. the police shot someone
    • On Twitter Aug 24, 2020
  • never Trump Rs (handshake emoji) moderate Ds -> this is an aberration
    • 6/2/2020 on Twitter
  • another way of saying police repeatedly caught lying
    • 6/9/2020 on Twitter, responding to AP headline "Video evidence increasingly disproves police narratives"
  • suburban Chicago: I got a detention for challenging my teachers assertion that the civil war had nothing to do with slavery. It was AP US History Imao
    • on Twitter Jun 20, 2020
  • J.K. Rowling, thinking of a name of white character: Albus Dumbeldore, Hermione Granger, Minerva McGonagall. J.K. Rowling, thinking of nonwhite character: Cho Chang
    • on Twitter May 13, 2020
  • i follow this account of old slavery advertisements in newspapers because it reminds that the same medium that can shed light on atrocities can also perpetuate them
    • on Twitter

Interview with Slate (2021)

  • I think it was a failure of imagination from political media to really believe that nativism was where the base of the party was. Birtherism had political salience with the Republican base. Once you talk to Republicans, you’d realize that was true.
  • My personal opinion is that Trump has largely been consistent on the things that he has cared about since the day he came down that escalator. The chaos has been consistent in how he’s gone about it, too. And so if you were to reorient yourself into recognizing the forces that were motivating him, I don’t think anything’s actually been all that surprising. I think these four years were a kind of a manifestation of what he promised to bring upon the country. So, in that way, I don’t see the last four years as this journalistic anomaly that will never be replicated again. I think that it is one piece of what is a larger conflict in America. And I think that a risk is that a Biden administration that is better at norms, that is better at the kind of baseline stuff that people have come to get outraged about, will blind people to the forces that led to Trump in the first place.
  • What I liked about the last two years was I think there’s been an increasing willingness to write about Trump from the bottom up—how it was affecting people, rather than who he is as an individual leader. I think there was too much top down for too long, and I include myself in this. I think it took some folks until coronavirus to really think about how Trump impacted everyday people. And we could have more clearly communicated that for the Muslim ban, for Hurricane Maria, etc. There was too much written about Trump’s disorganization, his unwillingness to deal with facts, his unwillingness to constitute the mechanics of government, and not enough about the consequences of his actions.
  • I think The New York Times is the best day-to-day news outlet in the world.
  • I think of being a Black journalist as being pro-truth, pro-accountability and succeeding the tradition of Black journalists who have pushed the industry on what that looks like. Also, racism isn’t true. It’s false. And so as a journalist, it’s worth it to me to expose it as false, not as spite toward any one political actor.