"Longtime journalist W. Dale Nelson presents an insightful and absorbing history of the president's press secretary. . . . [He] does a wonderful job recreating the atmosphere of briefing rooms, describing the court politics faced by press secretaries in each White House, and explaining the competing cultures and demands of the press and the politicians."—The Journal of American History
"This book chronicles the genesis and development of the position of the White House press secretary during this century. Nelson covers each administration in interesting, anecdotal detail, relying on a wealth of newspaper, archival, and interview sources."—Virginia Quarterly Review
"[A] rare book that both covers the important events and makes the story come alive with an engaging style. This book is truly a page turner."—Mark J. Rozzell, author of The Press and the Bush Presidency
"With public attitudes about the media and government particularly polarized in early 1998, this lively survey . . . lends illuminating context to current conflict."—Booklist
When President Warren G. Harding fell ill in 1923, Steve Early, a reporter for the Associated Press, became skeptical of the innocuous bulletins being issued by the White House. He remained at the hotel where the president was staying, and when Florence Harding called out for a doctor, Early scrambled down a fire escape to file the story. His Associated Press report was six minutes ahead of others with the news of Harding’s death.
A decade later, when Franklin D. Roosevelt entered the White House, Steve Early became the first person to hold the title of presidential press secretary. Mike McCurry, Jody Powell, and Marlin Fitzwater have all become familiar names.
But how has the role of the White House press secretary changed over the years? We see these spokespeople at White House briefings, hear them quoted by reporters-but what do they really do? Whom do they really
serve: the president, or the press?
In his latest book, former Associated Press journalist and White House reporter W. Dale Nelson provides an insightful look at what has gone on behind the scenes of the White House press podium from the 1890s to the Clinton administration. Nelson draws on interviews with former press secretaries, press office records, and his own experience as a White House reporter to trace the history of the position, from its early, informal days to its present, seminal role in the Clinton administration.
About the Author
W. Dale Nelson spent forty years as a reporter and editor with the Associated Press. His journalistic honors include the Aldo Beckman Memorial Award for reporting about the presidency. Nelson is the author of The President Is at Camp David, also published by Syracuse University Press.
6 x 9, 340 pages, 22 black and white illustrations