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The Atlantic Wire - Claire McCaskill: What I Read

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By Rebecca Greenfield

How do people deal with the torrent of information pouring down on us all? What sources can't they live without? We regularly reach out to prominent figures in media, entertainment, politics, the arts and the literary world, to hear their answers. This is drawn from a conversation with Sen. Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, who is on the campaign trail as she finishes up her first term.

If I get up at 7 I have to wait until 8 when he posts it, but first thing I read John Combest. He puts together all the political Missouri headlines for that day. He just has the political news so I'll also read the front page sections of the Missouri papers, the Kansas City Star and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

When it's earlier, I'll read the New York Times digital. I read everything digitally with the exception of the St. Louis paper, at home. And when I'm on the road, I'll read whatever the town paper is. Or, I'll read USA Today, New York Times or The Wall Street Journal if I'm traveling outside of Missouri. The Sunday paper I don't read digitally. I think the Sunday paper is ritualistic. You just need to read the paper. Then almost everything else I read digitally. I also use Evernote to send myself articles that I dont have time to read.

I think a lot of the columnists do a great job. I'm a personal fan of Gail Collins. I think Maureen Dowd has her days; there are other days I scratch my head. One of my favorite columnists is Barbara Shelly, at the Kansas City Star. And Bill McClellan, too. He is fantastic. I read him religiously.

If I'm watching TV, then I'll get to the morning shows, like Morning Joe. When I'm on the treadmill, though, in the morning, I'll confess to watching dramas. I just finished Deadwood, I watched Downtown Abbey, now I'm on Game of Thrones. So I just get 45 to 50 minutes of uninterrupted drama. I like to treat myself just for getting on, so I don't watch any news while I'm on there.

I don't follow anyone on Twitter, but there is a reason. [Twitter founder, now the CEO of Square] Jack Dorsey told me he thought it was very good, so I have approval of people at the very top of Twitter. I read every @ reply I get every night -- even from the haters. I'm looking for the people who are tweeting me from Missouri. I've been able to actually help people, we've gotten case work off my tweets. If I were following people it would just be too much. Every week I DM dozens of Missourians that send me messages. They can't privately DM me back, but they can send me a reply back and then we can call them.

Twitter is just a good interactive way for me to communicate directly. I like it because when you're a Senator there is a tendency for everyone to want to edit you, and I get tired of that. I yearn to break free and say whatever I want. Twitter is my space to do that, nobody edits it. It drives my staff crazy. I have done some embarrassing things, like when I left the 'L' out of public option. People were excited to read about the "pubic option." I think the fact that it is flawed and not perfect makes it more genuine and more authentic.

I wouldnt be on Twitter if it weren't for my kids. They are quick to tell me when I'm doing something stupid. They are like my little police about whether I'm being a tool or whether I'm being cool. Sometimes I'm just going to be a tool because I'm a lot older. One of my very first tweets was talking about what a weird hat Justice Scalia had on. It was this weird mushroomy cap looking thing, it was bizarre. I kind of got made fun of in the Senate for it.

I do Instagram, I tried Pinterest but I didn't get it. Instagram is great, especially on the campaign. I think it's an easy way instead of trying to think how I can be clever in 140, I can just take the image. Like, we were out on the road for the campaign and we bought this giant Missouri watermelon and I could've thought a cute tweet about a giant watermelon but it was just easy to Instagram it.

On airplanes when I'm working really long hours, in that period of time when I can't have my electronic device on, if I dont have a newspaper with me, I will confess to a guilty pleasure of a Vogue or an Elle, or MacLife or Wired. I subscribe to Wired and I read that pretty religiously every month. I subscribe to that and The Economist digitally.

In the evening, if I'm home at a decent hour I will maybe indulge in some DVR. I love Antiques Roadshow and I certainly will confess that HGTV gets more of my time than I should admit. I like those and the Food Channel. I like to watch PBS for news in the evening. Sometimes one of the network shows, either Brian Williams or Diane Sawyer. Then, of course, the most important of the day: The Daily Show and Colbert. I adore both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert because they have made government more accessible to a generation through humor. I think it's much harder in terms of intellect to make the day-to-day funny and both of them do it very well. I usually make it through half of Colbert before I fall asleep.

I read for pleasure every single night before I go to bed. I start picking up a book on my iPad when Colbert finishes his monologue. I am about half way through Passage of Power. But I read a range of stuff. Before that I read Cleopatra, before that I read the The Night Circus. I get through a book per month -- maybe not quite as many this year since I have two jobs. I have been an avid reader since a young age. My mother did a really wonderful trick when we were little. When we would misbehave, our punishment was we were not allowed to go to the library for two weeks. She did this reverse psychology on us, which meant that this was something that was really cool. It kind of worked.


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