New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 9, 1985, New Braunfels, Texas
THE WHITE HOUSE
Tonight's news conference will be Reagan's first in six months
Dave Kraaier, General Manager Robert Johaeoe, EditorReagan press conferences: few and far betweenBy W. DALE NELSON Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Since President Reagan’s last formal White House news conference, new governments have come to power in Israel and Canada, Secretary of Labor Raymond Donovan has been indicted for fraud, and Nicaragua has accused the United States of plotting an invasion.
Don’t count on any of these subjects dominating tonight’s televised session with reporters, however. It is expected to focus on exploratory arms talks that ended Tuesday in Geneva and the president’s surprise announcement that Secretary of the Treasury Donald Regan and White House Chief of Staff James A. Baker III are exchanging jobs.
“The questions you tend to get are not about the most interesting things, but about the most recent,” said Jody Powell, who was press secretary to Reagan’s predecessor, former President Carter.
“If the press conferences were held on a more regular basis, the reporters would home in far more on events of the most interest,” said Stephen A. Hess, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who has made a study of government press relations.
“As it is, you have excellent reporters asking questions almost designed not to elicit much information,” Hess said.
The Brookings scholar and the former Carter aide commented as Reagan prepared for his first full-scale White House meeting with reporters since July 24. The session was scheduled for 8 p.m. EST.
Reagan has had brief question-and-answer sessions with reporters in more casual settings and a fairly wideranging session in Los Angeles on Nov. 7, the day after his re-election.
The longest previous gap in Reagan’s formal meetings with reporters was from June 16 to Oct. 1,1981. During some of this time he was recuperating from his wounds in an attempt on his life on March 30 of that year.
Altogether, this will be his 27th full dress White House meeting with reporters, compared with the 59 news conferences held by Carter.
“During the Iranian hostage situation, we limited press conferences rather severely, but I don’t think there ever was a six-month period without one,” Powell said.
The news conference is likely to be the last of Reagan’s first term, which ends at noon on Jan. 20. This would be one fewer than former President Nixon held in his first
term. Altogether, Nixon had 37 full-scale meetings with reporters before his resignation.
Former President Ford met with reporters 39 times in his less than 2 Mi years in office.
“The strange thing about it is that presidents do hold a good hand at press conferences,” said Hess. ‘They seem to be more fearful of it than they need to be. They needn’t look on it as a no-win proposition from their point of view.”
Hess served as an aide to Nixon and before that to the late President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower held 193 press conferences in his eight years in office in spite of often being criticized for speaking in twisted syntax that made it hard to unravel his meaning.
“The general view of people is that the president is standing up there dealing with a range of issues and reaching a large audience with a fair degree of confidence,” Hess said.
Reagan held news conferences about once a week when he was governor of California, as did Carter when he was governor of Georgia.
"The pressure (on a president) is just much greater and the consequences of a slip of the tongue or a mistake are a good bit higher,” said Powell. “Also, even in a state as large as California, you are dealing with a relatively
small number of journalists, most of whom you tend to know.”
Like other presidents, Reagan is briefed before his news conferences. But Lou Cannon, White House correspondent of The Washington Post, in his biography of the president, says Reagan has “met with the press so infrequently that it was difficult for even the most skillful briefers to anticipate what ground the questions might cover.”
Powell said aides prepared elaborate briefing books for Carter, but Cannon, who has covered Reagan both in Sacramento and Washington, said the president “simply has no inclination to cuddle up with a briefing book for any prolonged period of time.”
Early in Reagan’s administration, a loudspeaker was installed to help him hear the questions, as he is hard of hearing.
Although there have been many news accounts of factual mistakes by Reagan in his answers, White House aides have made it their general policy not to elaborate on what he says.
“The president meant what he said, and said what he meant” is the usual response of White House spokesman Larry Speakes.
Does Stockman have a future?
The library in Farmington, Conn a city of 17,000, has started a campaign to get people, especially children, to watch less television.
This makes as much sense as a television station organizing a campaign to get people to read fewer books. Barbara Gibson is director of the Farmington Library and if Barbara thinks all books are good and all television is bad, she hasn’t been to a bookstore lately. I can say with confidence that the percentage of junk in print is at least as high as the percentage of junk on television. Does she advise children not to read?
I’d suggest to the Farmington library that they stop advocating not watching television at all and start trying to get kids to be more selective in their viewing. Every newspaper carries daily television listings. Farmington should suggest that kids set a television time limit for themselves. They’d decide they were going to watch television for two hours a day, perhaps
They wouldn’t sit down in front of
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the set and watch everything that came on. They’d select, in advance, what they were going to watch. They’d open the newspaper on the floor and mark, with a pencil, the things they wanted to see. Selective viewing, not a ban on viewing, would be the answer.
Nancy DeSalvo is the children’s librarian in Farmington. She says that when children spend too much time watching television, they aren’t living a normal life.
“Preschoolers have to conquer their world by playing,” she says. “They’re not playing when they sit in front of that television. They’re not mastering their world at all.”
That’s a pretty good statement but, of course, kids aren’t playing when they’re reading books, either.
Helen McMullen, principal of the Noah Wallace elementary school in Farmington, is having teachers hand out “I Pledge Not To Watch TV” cards. I wish, instead, that she was asking children to watch the news on television. It’s the best way to get kids interested enough in the real
world so they’ll read the newspaper for the full story when they grow up.
There’s too much that’s good on television to tell children not to watch it. You can’t expect television to be any better than our movies, our books, our clothes, our restaurants, our columnists or the classes rn Helen McMullen’s elementary school. I’ll bet she’d be embarrassed at what goes on in some of those classes but she wouldn’t suggest kids should stay home from school because of them.
Television doesn’t broadcast mediocrity on purpose. Television is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, at the flick of a switch. Where are programmers going to get 8,760 hours of great programming? Are your teachers all good, Helen McMullen? Are all the books in your library first rate, Barbara Gibson?
Television has expanded, not contracted, children’s views of the world. Children know more about everything than pre-TV generations did. Even if you wish they didn’t know some of it, you have to believe
that some of that knowledge is good. If you believe in information, you have to believe in television.
For all that’s wrong with television, there’s too much evidence that, overall, it has been an educating force in the world. The best thing about it is that it distributes information to everyone. Television isn’t fussy. It doesn’t limit itself to people with brains as a good newspaper does.
Most of television is aimed at an audience of average, or less-than-average, intelligence. That’s because people with average intelligence will not watch a broadcast that calls for any thought. It is stjange but true that, on the other hand, a lot of smart people do watch dumb television. I don’t know why that is.
Of course, there’s a lot (rf terrible television and some kids watch too much of it but to say they shouldn’t watch any is a silly, fake-intellectual suggestion. Television need not replace play or anything else. It is an added dimension in all our lives.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Reagan administration shakeup is moving so rapidly that it will take time to assess its impact on policy and politics, but the changes could have implications for the prospects for tax revision — and David Stockman's future.
President Reagan announced the latest surprise shifts today when he appeared in the White House briefing room to say that chief of staff James A. Baker III and Treasury Secretary Donald Regan are swapping jobs.
The shift of Regan to the White House raises this question: Wwhat does it mean for the future of Stockman, the budget director who has clashed frequently with Regan over whether high budget deficits are threatening the nation’s economic well-being.
The new shift immediately set off speculation that Stockman may depart this spring after he completes work trying to shepherd the new Reagan budget through Congress.
“Ifs too early to really see if it’s going to make a difference,” said Richard Viguerie, publisher of Conservative Digest. Viguerie, a conservative who belives Baker is too moderate, has been calling for years for Baker’s removal from his position at Reagan’s side.
“It may be a change without a difference,” Viguerie said.
A source close to the principals said the shift represented Baker’s long desire to leave the White House staff after four years as the president’s top aide and a lightning rod for conservative complaints about the administration.
The source, who spoke only on condition that he not be identified, said the shift of Regan to the White House staff appeared to indicate that tax simplification will be a top priority item during the second Reagan term.
A Treasury Department task force proposed a revamping the tax code to lower rates while scrapping many popular deductions. The plan immediately ran into strong opposition from many groups benefitting from specific deductions.
Sen. Robert Packwood, R-Ore., new chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, also said he opposed such sweeping changes in the tax laws.
Within the White House, there’s the quesions of whether Regan will be the strong staff chief that Baker has been. He will not have to deal with
.. .not a Regan fan
.. .soon to depart? the in-house competition that could make life difficult for his predecessor.
Soon to depart the White House staff are Edwin Meese III and Michael Deaver — Meese as the nominee for attorney general and Deaver to enter private business. Also leaving the administration are Attorney General William French Smith and Interior Secretary William Clark, both long-time Reagan aides from his California days.
Also likely to depart is U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, a favorite of conservatives, who had hoped she would become a top foreign policy adviser.
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