Clinton’s Public Relations
John C. Tedesco
While “sexual relations” with Monica Lewinsky will undoubtedly mark Clinton’s biggest scandal, it is only one of the seemingly countless acts or circumstances that will disfigure his presidency throughout history. From days not long after he announced his run for the presidency through (and beyond) the controversial contents of the moving van for Chapaqua, Clinton’s words and misdeeds were troublesome. While this entire volume is dedicated to various aspects of Clinton’s image, scandals, and communication strategies, this chapter is devoted to analysis of the administration’s relationship with the press during the beginning months of Clinton’s presidency. Specifically, this chapter addresses the Clinton administration’s West Wing lockout of the White House press corps and the subsequent circumvention of the “institutionalized” relationship between the presidency and the press.
The marriage between the presidency and the press is not simply an arrangement of convenience. Not surprisingly, like most marriages, the president-press relationship has witnessed its share of difficulty. However, from the start of his presidency, the White House press corps cried foul at the lockout policy and accused Clinton of cheating on their relationship. Although thousands of journalists have White House press credentials, the standard guard of the White House press corps usually comprises about sixty beat reporters from major television, radio, print, and wire service news organizations such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, NBC, ABC, CBS, Associated Press, Reuters, and