The White House Press Secretary with Marlin Fitzwater
By Ian Corey
Monday, July 20 marked the beginning of Presidency and the Press 2015, a media and politics conference at Franklin Pierce University. Former White House Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater took time out of his day to allow us students to interview him.
Ian Corey and Marlin Fitzwater
Photo by Kayla Sciarretti
Fitzwater was Deputy Press Secretary to President Ronald Reagan in 1983; two years later Vice President George H.W. Bush hired him to be his Press Secretary. In 1987 President Reagan asked Fitzwater to be his Press Secretary and Fitzwater stayed as the White House Press Secretary under President George H.W. Bush. Fitzwater holds the second longest term of White House Press Secretary for a total of six years between two Presidents.
During the 80’s and early 90’s there was so much going on in the world, namely the end of the Cold War and the start of the Gulf War. During this time there was also the rise of the 24-hour news broadcasts.
The role of the White House Press Secretary has significantly changed since Fitzwater was in office. According to Fitzwater, the Press Secretary’s role was to cover the various governmental departments. He explained, “[Duties ranged from covering] the President, Agricultural Department, the space program, and to every other corner of government and I had to set up an internal press operation to get information from around the government. And at that time we focused on the substance of what the administration and government was doing.”
But in today’s fast paced and technologically connected world the Press Secretary focuses less on information and more on explaining their President. Fitzwater went on to say, “The Press Secretary really only focuses on the political aspect of the President . . . The Press Secretary’s job has been diminished.”
Fitzwater was grateful for being able to be the Press Secretary in a time where the position was still focused on the workings of the government rather than the politics of the President.
In describing his time as Press Secretary, Fitzwater expressed relief in the fact that he did not have to experience the pressure and the demand of 24-hour news stations and the flood of Internet bloggers along with other news outlets that White House Press Secretaries have to work with today.
At the end of the interview Fitzwater stated, “Satellites and the Internet changed communications forever.”
Ian Corey is currently a sophomore at Franklin Pierce University majoring in Political Science