All the Presidents' Spokesmen: Spinning the News, White House Press Secretaries from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George W. Bush

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 249 pages

This is the first volume to chronicle the story of the evolution of the symbiotic relationship between the presidential press secretaries and reporters who covered White House news during the terms of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. Author Woody Klein has been both a reporter (for the Washington Post and the New York World-Telegram & Sun) and a press secretary himself to New York City Mayor John V. Lindsay, who ran for president in 1972. The book reveals how the presidential press secretaries' role has evolved from old-fashioned public relations into a smooth-working system of releasing news and responding to reporters' questions at daily briefings by portraying the president in the best possible light. Klein ferrets out fresh, anecdotal information and includes interviews with nationally known personalities--including former White House press secretaries and notable journalists who have covered the White House. He brings to life the personalities and views of every presidential spokesman on how the job has grown in stature as the press secretaries or spinmeisters have become high-profile officials.

Klein reveals how the tension between government and the media--normally healthy in any democracy--has resulted in the manipulation of facts and the release of favorable official news. It started subtly in the Roosevelt administration and has been carefully honed with the transformation of the media in the information and technology revolution; he shows how it has been refined to the point where it is now recognized for what it is: slanting or packaging the news in favor of the president to make it acceptable--even desired--by the public. Perception quickly becomes reality, and once the facts of a situation have been accepted by the establishment--politicians and the press alike--it becomes virtually impossible to change people's minds about them. The book documents scores of examples of White House spin by topic rather than chronologically--for example, how different press secretaries managed the news in wartime, in foreign policy, in scandals, and in a host of domestic issues such as education and national disasters. Twenty-three press secretaries are included. The most notable among them are Steve Early (Roosevelt), James Hagerty (Eisenhower), Pierre Salinger (Kennedy), Bill Moyers (Johnson), Ron Ziegler (Nixon), Marlin Fitzwater (Reagan and G. H. W. Bush), Dee Dee Myers (Clinton), Mike McCurry (Clinton), Joe Lockhart (Clinton), Ari Fleischer (Bush), Scott McClellan (Bush), and Tony Snow (Bush).

 

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All the presidents' spokesmen: spinning the news, White House press secretaries from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George W. Bush

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Jerald terHorst, President Gerald Ford's press secretary, likened the position to a "trapeze artist in the middle of his walk with a stick in each hand, trying to keep his balance." Here, Klein ... Read full review

Contents

The White House Press Secretary After the Presidency Itself The Toughest Job in the White House
1
Hot War
35
1945 Franklin Delano Roosevelt
44
1945 Harry S Truman
48
19501953 Harry S Truman
52
19641975 Lyndon B Johnson Richard M Nixon
56
20032007 George W Bush
68
20032005 George W Bush
73
Photo essay appears following page 158
159
Domestic Crises
159
1970 Richard M Nixon
161
1981 Ronald Reagan
164
1992 George HW Bush
166
September 11 2001 George W Bush
168
2005 George W Bush
176
Domestic Controversies
195

Cold War
87
1948 Harry S Truman
88
1961 John F Kennedy
90
1962 John F Kennedy
93
19791980 Jimmy Carter Ronald Reagan
106
1981 Ronald Reagan
112
Presidential Scandals
121
1974 Gerald R Ford
140
19861989 Ronald Reagan
144
19981999 Bill Clinton
149
2001 George W Bush
202
2002 George W Bush
212
2002 George W Bush
218
Global Issues
221
2006 George W Bush
224
2007 George W Bush
227
Selected Bibliography
235
Index
241
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

WOODY KLEIN is a former Press Secretary to a New York City Mayor, a former award-winning investigative and political reporter for daily newspapers in Washington, D.C., and New York, and an award-winning historian. He is the author of Westport, Connecticut: The Story of a New England Town's Rise to Prominence, winner of the Connecticut League of History Organizations' Book Award

Toward Humanity and Justice: The Writings of Dr. Kenneth B. Clark, Scholar of the Brown v. Board of Education Decision in 1954 (2004), winner of Best Book of the Year award from the Connecticut Press Club in 2006

d Liberties Lost: The Endangered Legacy of the ACLU (2006). He also authored Let in the Sun (1962) and Lindsay's Promise (1970).

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