Hey media channel, get excited for Blue15! We are welcoming award winning author, presidential historian and public speaker Jane Hampton Cook to our stage. Office Hours are now in session.
What song is at the top of your playlist?
Right now in my season of life as the mother of a toddler, anything Baby Einstein: Mozart, Vivaldi, Beethoven tops my mind. My toddler frequently loves to listen and dance to the Baby Einstein DVD collection.
Because I have frequent migraines, I’m often sensitive to sound, especially certain music. I’ve had to “let it go” sometimes and reduce my playlist.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be many things: an actress, ballerina, singer (as in Amy Grant), veterinarian, missionary, university administrator, and fashion designer.
At my wedding’s rehearsal dinner, my father “roasted” me and went through all of the many things I wanted to be when I grew up. Then he said, the one thing I DIDN’T want to be, was the very thing that I had become, a Cook, referring to my married last name, Cook. My family knows that my better talents aren’t in the kitchen or in cooking.
What is the best piece of either personal or professional advice you’ve gotten?
I worked at the White House in Sept. 2002, during the one year anniversary of the terror attacks on 9-11-01. The year before I’d been one of those staffers who’d been told to take off my shoes and run to evacuate the White House complex.
In Sept. 2002, White House counselor Karen Hughes led a meeting with the communication team. As usual, she wanted to emphasize the positive and be encouraging as much as possible, especially during such a solemn anniversary. She encouraged us to say “we will always remember those who lost their lives on 9-11” instead of “we will never forget.” Though the meaning was the same, saying “always remember” was a more positive approach to words.
Seeking to emphasize the positive in public communication as much as possible has stuck with me. Too often people in the media throw out firebombs and stick labels on people. That doesn’t mean you avoid the truth, but you seek to respect the person in the process and find positive words whenever possible to elevate the discussion or dialogue.
As I’ve had the opportunity to be a guest on national TV news (about once a month since 2008, often on the Fox News Channel), I’ve kept Karen’s advice in mind. I might be on TV more often if I was more negative, but I prefer my responses and critiques to be more positive and avoid firebomb labels.
Do you have a favorite quote or scripture verse that motivates and inspires you?
Joshua 1:7-9, (paraphrased here): “Be strong and courageous, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I discovered in writing my book on the American Revolution (Stories of Faith and Courage from the Revolutionary War) that our founders often referred to Providence. To us today, Providence means “good luck” but back then, Providence meant God’s presence. The only member of the clergy to sign the Declaration of Independence described Providence as the “walking of God with and among his people.”
The governor of Connecticut sent his friend George Washington a letter and quoted Joshua 1:7-9 to encourage him at the start of the Revolution. At the end of the Revolution, Washington told his men that the “interpositions of Providence” was nothing short of a “standing miracle” in the victory and formation of our nation.
I think about that connection of God’s presence throughout the generations: from Joshua and the Jewish people establishing Israel, to Washington and our founders and to my life today. God is with us wherever we go, whatever we encounter. The promise is not the end result, but it’s the process, that God loves us and is with us wherever we are in life. That promise has meant a lot to me, both personally and professionally.
Do you have a website or blog to share with our readers?
More about Jane:
Jane Hampton Cook makes history relevant to news, current events, politics, faith,and modern life. She is the award-winning author of eight books, including America’s Star-Spangled Story (Aug. 2014), Pulitzer-nominated American Phoenix (2013), and Stories of Faith and Courage from the Revolutionary War. A national media commentator and former White House webmaster to President George W. Bush, Jane is a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel and other television and radio outlets. She has been a cast member and on-camera storyteller for the History Channel’s sister network, H2, on the show, United Stuff of America. Launching her passion for biography and history through a research fellowship from the Organization of American Historians and White House Historical Association in 2003, Jane is a graduate of Baylor University and Texas A&M University. She lives with her husband, Dr. John Kim Cook, and their children in the Washington DC area in Fairfax, Virginia.
Jane Hampton Cook’s Books