Fitzwater: Press Secretary isn’t for the faint of heart

by Ronald J. Cooper III

While answering students questions during a recent visit to Franklin Pierce University, Marlin Fitzwater revealed the unknown troubles, seriousness, and responsibilities that

(Photo; Jen Connors)

(Photo: Jen Connors)

come along with being the Press Secretary to two presidents.

Fitzwater was Press Secretary to former President Ronald Reagan and former President George H. W. Bush for ten years. “I was the one who had to tell the American people, as well as the rest of the world that we were ‘invading Panama to stop Noriega’ as well as ‘we are liberating Kuwait from the control of Saddam Hussein’, the final step in a declaration of war,” Fitzwater said.

“Having to tell the world that America was going to invade a country was dangerous and frightening,” he said.  “You don’t have a second chance to make a mistake, there’s a large risk factor and you have to work hard because the rest of the nation is going to take cue from what you say.

Even when the country wasn’t going to war, the job of Press Secretary was a hard one.

“The job of a Press Secretary is one with tight constraints, and it was a tough one. You don’t have any room for mistakes because if you mess up, you’re fired. I liked being Press Secretary, I was very fortunate to be one, and for ten years, and two Presidents,” said Fitzwater.

When asked why he wanted to be a Press Secretary he answered, “It helped a lot to that I was very interested in journalism, and that before working for the government as a Press Secretary, and even before working for the EPA, I was a journalist. When I was a kid, I lived on a farm, and growing up I knew one thing, I didn’t wanna be a farmer like my father. So I got into journalism in high school.”

 

One Response to Fitzwater: Press Secretary isn’t for the faint of heart

  1. Marlin was the most phenomenal press secretary.I remember first watching the difference in the White press corps from when Jody Powell was press secretary. The press went from angry to enjoying the humor. No matter how heated it got, Marlin had humor and you just trusted him.

    I knew him from before he was at the White House, when he was working at the EPA and then Treasury Dept. with Don Regan.

    He granted me interviews with cabinet secretaries when I was just establishing the Washington Bureau for PBS “Nightly Business Report”.
    Eventually, I got to interview President Ronald Reagan. Marlin’s belief in me to be fair and his graciousness will always be appreciated and remembered. I’m sure I’m not the only one. He straddled that balance beam of communication and trust brilliantly. There’s a reason he was a press secretary for 10 years!

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