February 17th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #759 'Welcome to the press room'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: The president has a new press secretary. With a little luck, perhaps he’ll get to read my daily letters!

Dear Mr. President,

So your new press guy seems to have survived his first day at the big podium. Good for him. I always like to see people have a decent start to a job, especially a tough one.

On the other hand, I have very mixed emotions about the whole idea of press spokespersons or, as I like to call them, reporter wranglers. See, the thing is, I generally don’t trust them any more than they trust us. They always say things like, “We’re here to make sure you get the right information,” and “We’re going to get you everything you need,” but I just can’t believe it.

I mean, honestly, if presidents wanted us to have the whole story, couldn’t you all just open the doors to the Oval Office and let us come in once every couple of weeks and tell us the score? I guess that sounds crazy, but I believe press relations used to be largely handled that way. The press and the president were not pals, but each side respected the need for information to flow, so they opened the spigot from time and time. Directly.

Probably wouldn’t work these days. Too many reporters, too many pressing issues, too much at stake if something is said at the wrong moment or in the wrong way. Still, it would be nice.

For the record, I would make a terrible press secretary, precisely because I would be really awful at keeping secrets. I’d just start laying everything out.

“How does the president feel about what is happening in the Middle East?”
“Frankly, I think he’s as baffled as the rest of us. I mean who the heck knows how that’s going to turn out?”
“There have been a lot of complaints about the new budget proposal. Any thoughts?”
“Yes. People suck. I mean, seriously, do you really think we’re going to get out of our deficit problems without cutting services and raising taxes? No way.”

Something like that.

Anyway, like I said, congrats to your new guy for a decent start. It’s late. I’m tired. More tomorrow.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Tim Gibson

    Isn't the WH press secretary just a hedge planted like any other to keep our view blocked and provide a groomed look at the harsh realities of our world and nation. Yet, it also is a divide when it should be a bridge.

    Unfortunately for the White House, many of us common folks do in fact own step ladders and are able to see above and beyond the hedge with an excellent view of the grounds.

    February 17, 2011 at 10:10 am |
  2. Lisa Stewart

    To Anyone who will Listen..I live on less than $12,000 a yr. I draw S.S. and haven't gotten a cost of living increase in 3yrs. If just one person on Capitol Hill would come live with me for one week like on 'undercover' boss, they would find out how difficult it is to make ends meet while my utilities have double and gas is going thru the roof. I am Mrs. John Q Public. How much does the people on Capitol Hill make a year? Are they willing to give up 'their' retirement plans? Or cut their pay? Or better yet agree to the same health care plan that all seniors have? When your sick or aging in America why the constant scare? This is the 40th comment I have sent to every news outlet in America and the White House so forgive me when I think somewhere someone will hear me

    February 17, 2011 at 9:49 am |